Baylor led a healthy life for 6 1/2 years, but in February 2002, Jeff began to notice some drainage coming from her right eye. She started becoming lethargic as well, so Jeff took her to Oxford Animal Hospital in March for treatment. The vet initially diagnosed the problem as Uveitis, or an inflammation of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. After multiple vet visits, no prescription seemed to be working. In fact, Baylor's symptoms began to worsen as she became sensitive to anyone petting her on the head.
Still believing the symptoms pointed to an eye problem, Baylor was referred to a nationally known vet ophthalmologist named Dr. Reuben Merideth. He, too, believed it to be an eye-related issue until early May, when Baylor began to cry out in pain when pressure was placed on her head. Dr. Merideth ordered x-rays and a biopsy which led to her diagnosis of nasal adenocarcinoma. This type of tumor is described as an aggressive glandular cancer that was found in Baylor's right sinus cavity and nasal passage.
From the eye clinic, Baylor was referred to Kansas State Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and specifically, to vet oncologist, Dr. Ruthanne Chun. Dr. Chun advised Jeff that leaving the tumor untreated would take Baylor's life within a couple of months. With radiation therapy, the tumor could be knocked into remission, and potentially buy Baylor 10-12 months. To humans, an extra year doesn't sound like much, but Dr. Chun pointed out that the treatment might add an extra 12-14% to Baylor's lifespan.
Jeff decided to proceed with three weeks of radiation that required Baylor to stay at Kansas State during the week and come home on weekends. Senior veterinary student, Ted White, was assigned to Baylor's case and became her caretaker during her stay.
Baylor survived the radiation treatments (see radiation pictures) and came home on June 7, 2002. She continued to improve for about a week, and then began to decline. By June 19th, much of the progress she had made had dissipated. The morning of June 20, 2002, it was clear that the tumor was growing as Baylor became disoriented and unaware of her surroundings. Jeff made the difficult drive to the vet's office to say goodbye (for now) to his greatest companion.
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