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Labrador Retriever


The Amazing Mali:

by Ilene Powell

Hi All,

My Mali is fighting splenic hemangiosarcoma (HSA), a cancer of the blood vessel system. Mali is my hero and a true inspiration to those battling canine cancer.

Here is her story:
Mali was a Christmas present to me on 12/24/1997. She is the most lovable black Lab, who never met man (or woman) she didn't lick...Labs are oral, and her tongue clearly does not fit in her mouth.

Fast forward to 12/20/2004. Mali collapsed without warning and when I noticed she was lethargic and had pale gums and tongue, I called our Vet; he said get her here immediately. Fortunately we do not live far from Metairie Small Animal Hospital. Dr. John Martin performed an emergency splenectemy and told me she was hanging on by her toenails. She had nearly bled out from her spleen rupturing.

The next morning, I went to see her and noticed that she was bloated and unresponsive to me. Dr. Martin was there and said he had been watching her recovery; then said he needed to open her up again. Her internal sutures had ruptured, and she was bleeding out again...in less than 24 hours. By that evening, she was awake, aware and back on her feet. I begged to please get her home to me by Christmas, since she had been a Christmas present. He did better, she came home Christmas
Eve...12/24/ 2004...the day the biopsy came back as CANCER.

My girl was home by Christmas, but with a prognosis of 19 days to 2 -3 months without chemo or 9 - 15 months with chemo. Survival odds that I chose to believe were just that..."odd" . A fellow HSA reminded me that: Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

Christmas morning 2004, we woke to snow...the first Christmas snow in the recorded history of New Orleans...a miracle. If it could snow for New Orleans, then maybe we could have our miracle for Mali too. We believe!

In my "burning daylight" phase, I searched the Internet endlessly looking for any info on HSA. I came across an Oncologist, Dr. Kevin Hahn with Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists (GCVS), who had done clinical trials for HSA and had many credentials. But he was in Houston. When we went back to MSAH for Mali's staples to come out, Dr. Martin informed us that MSAH had contracted with an Oncologist
to come to New Orleans once a week to treat canine cancer patients. Mali was booked to be the first appointment with...Dr. Kevin Hahn...Serendipity.

Mali completed her chemotherapy beyond my expectations. Her HSA was "dormant", but she needed to receive chemo maintenance for life.

Then Katrina came. We had to evacuate for what we thought would be a few days...turned into 5 weeks. While we could not get in touch with MSAH to get her chemo meds refilled, we were able to get in touch with Dr. Hahn/GCVS just as they were evacuating for Rita.

While during our evacuation, we learned that our house did not survive and sadly neither did our 3 cats. But at least I had Mali still with me; I think she's here to remind us: we can survive.

Well here we are... 2 years post Mali's HSA diagnosis. I'm committed to helping and mentoring those newly diagnosed with HSA and other canine cancers. My hope is that what we have learned can be shared with others and help get them through their "burning daylight" phase after initial diagnosis. Mali continues to inspire and give hope to others. We have been blessed with brilliant doctors and supportive friends and family (both two-legged and four-legged) ; and we are forever thankful.

This past Christmas Eve marked 2 years post her HSA diagnosis. May Mali continue beating her "odds" and continue to be the gift that keeps giving.

I hope you share Mali's story of success, hope and inspiration.
Sending Mali Magic and Mali Hugs out to those battling and beating the beast!

At the time of this posting, Mali is 3 years post diagnoses.

Ilene and Mali (born 10/16/1997 & dx HSA 12/24/2004)
Praying for our cats still missing in New Orleans, LA since 8/28/2005 due to Hurricane Katrina: Gipsy and Shag, and remembering Angel Harley.


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