Bella is aged six-and-a-half years and I have had her since she was a pup. She is family! Bella has a happy and friendly personality; her tail never stops wagging! She loves her food as well as getting her tummy scratched!

Towards the end of 2022, Bella was having a run on the beach when she tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in her back knee, and this was operated on at the start of November. As part of her rehab, I had to take her to the vet for check-ups.

It was at one of these check-ups that my local vet identified the lumps under her chin and behind her knees. She had bloods taken and sent away and they came back with the diagnosis of B cell Lymphoma. In hindsight, her knee injury meant that her lymphoma was diagnosed very early, and it also shows how quickly the cancer grows.

I was referred to a specialist who ran through my options for Bella which was primarily either do nothing and lose her in a couple of months or have chemotherapy and prolong her life for around 12 – 18 months. A lot of the discussion was centred around side effects from the drugs and how they would be managed with more drugs.  Also, they would have to change the dosage of the chemo which would have an impact on the length of her survival.

The chemo would cost around $20,000, it would not cure Bella and it would not be a pleasant experience for her. There were also precautions that we would have to take to ensure we weren’t exposed to the chemo!  All-in-all, not a great option.

I am a shareholder of PharmAust and have known about their Monepantel trial for dogs with B Cell Lymphoma. I informed the specialist that I would park the chemo option while I made enquiries about trying to get into the trial.

I live in Melbourne and the closest clinic that is participating in the trial is in Albury, some 400 km away.  Dr Renee Pigdon is the doctor running the trial at this centre and she has been nothing short of amazing. She squeezed Bella into her busy schedule and so I drove Bella up to Albury at the end of January 2023.

Bella was accepted into the trial and away we went. So far Bella has had no side-effects from the Monepantel drug and her life goes on as normal. She still has a good appetite and loves her walks. I have changed her diet to one that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. I have hit the Google machine and YouTube to get as much information as I can to do my best for Bella.

 

As much as the terminal diagnosis is extremely sad for our family, I’m glad that Bella can be a part of such an important trial that could benefit a lot of other dogs in the future.

 

It’s one thing to be a shareholder of a company that is conducting a drug trial for canine lymphoma. But it takes on an entirely different meaning when my dog has lymphoma and her quality of life depends on this trial!  I can’t thank PharmAust enough for accepting Bella into the trial. I also thank Dr Pigdon for squeezing Bella into her busy schedule and for taking great care of her.

 

Michael, Melbourne

Ruby is our 12-year-old, black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She is just the sweetest, gentle girl.

We got Ruby as a mate for our other Cavalier, Lily. They were inseparable, bringing us so much joy and laughter. Besides loving food and sneaking off to steal some of our cat’s dinner, Ruby just spends her time loving on everyone and snuggling up to me.

Ruby was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in June 2022 by our local vet at Chelmer Graceville Vets after my daughter Ella found lumps under Ruby’s jaw. She had no other symptoms. This diagnosis was confirmed by Dr Kathleen O’Connell at Animal Referral Hospital (ARH) in Brisbane.

After our consultation and investigation with ARH, I was given two pages of possible treatments. Dr O’Connell discussed the possibility of the Monepantel (MPL) trial over the phone as I was home sick with Covid. I did some research about MPL and found Ryley and Chica’s testimonials which made me feel more comfortable about the trial.

I decided to do the trial as I felt that with her age, pancreatitis issues and thyroid issues, chemotherapy would be too much for Ruby. The Monepantel trial would allow us to have longer with her and with good quality of life, which was very important to me.

So far, our experience on the trial has been very positive. We have been delighted to get an extra four months with Ruby. She still enjoys doing much of what she previously did, albeit a little slower, but she has no health issues since being on the trial and the team at ARH have been wonderful.

Each month that we pop in for her check-up we can’t believe that another month has passed, and we still get to have her in our lives. I try and tell everyone about this trial because I think it is so valuable and is another option that is more cost effective for the average person.

Carrie, Brisbane

Ryley is our 5-year-old Border Collie x Kelpie. She is friendly, energetic, loyal, obedient, intelligent and inquisitive. She got her name from the country town where she was born – Rylestone.

Ryley is our companion and the reason why we go for walks or runs, even when we don’t feel like it. She loves chasing waves, playing tug of war with her fluffy and squeaky toys, chewing large bones and burying them around the yard, exploring hidden places and greeting everyone walking past our house by racing up and down the fence line.

Ryley was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in July 2021 by our local vet. My husband was giving Ryley a pat and noticed a few lumps on her neck. We had also heard her coughing a few times. When we took her to our vet at Burwood Road Veterinary Clinic, we never thought it was anything serious, as she never seemed unwell. She had her usual appetite and energy levels.

We were amazed when our vet said it was lymphoma and that her life expectancy was weeks to months. It was confronting to have that diagnosis. We didn’t want to put her through anything drastic, which would make her more unwell and affect her quality of life. We felt that chemotherapy was not an option as life expectancy is still not much more than 1 year. Our main aim was to hopefully extend her life, but more importantly maintain her quality of life.

We immediately started researching clinical trials and found Dr Sonya Yu (Animal Referral Hospital), who is involved in the MPL Trial. I am a nurse with some experience in clinical trials, so I had a bit of an idea of what I thought would be a suitable trial. This trial guaranteed that she would actually be on the medication – not a placebo – and it didn’t involve an excessive amount of invasive investigations and clinic visits.

The MPL trial has been a positive experience for us. Dr Sonya is fantastic and has been wonderfully supportive to Ryley and us. It’s been easy to give Ryley two tablets a day and fortunately we live quite close to the Animal Referral Hospital, so it’s been easy to take her for the visits.

Our GP vet was also supportive of the trial, and it felt reassuring to do something.

Sharon, Sydney

Chica was a Black Kelpie born on a farming property in WA. She was a very active and very smart little dog with and incredible capacity to respond to your mood.

We got Chica when we were living in rural WA having returned from 5 years living in Peru where we had to leave our family dog.  She was named Chica as it means little girl in Spanish.

We went to a farmer’s market and our daughter’s friend had a litter of puppies for sale. Chica was being pushed around in pram with a baby’s bonnet on. We bought her for $25 and the farmer threw in a couple of bales of hay.  He regretted that decision later when she turned out to be a very good herding dog.

Chica’s favourite thing to do was to be by your feet in the paddock “helping” with whatever we were doing! She was diagnosed with lymphoma in April 2021 when I took her for a check-up as she had a small lump on her face and had been a little under the weather.

When she was diagnosed, we began looking for alternatives to chemotherapy. My vet had heard about the Monepantel trial and researched it for me before referring us to the Animal Referral Hospital in Brisbane, which was participating in the trial.

The trial was very straight-forward, clearly explained and did not require much from us in terms of input or reporting; just a simple diary and to give the medication (tablet) every second day.

Unfortunately, we had to have Chica put to sleep on October 10th. Until the last week she was almost completely normal, with occasional periods of quieter behaviour than unusual.

She was originally given 2 – 4 weeks to live and went on to have a great quality of life for nearly six months, so we are very grateful.

My advice to other pet owners is early detection and knowing what is and isn’t normal for your dog is important. Diagnosing the lymphoma early gave us time to do something about it to slow it down.

The trial gave us an alternative to chemo (which wasn’t an option for us), slowed the progression and gave us more time with Chica. We would really like to support the trial to continue as I really think it gave us a significant increase in time and quality of life for Chica. I’d love to see others have the same opportunity without the invasive treatment of chemo.

Gemma, Brisbane