What Would You Do? Cancer

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  1. Unfortunately the heart dog of my dog-owning life (20+ years in dogs) has been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer (mediastinal T-cell Lymphoma with associated hypercalcemia, for those in the vet field)

    It took at least 4 damn weeks to definitively diagnose, and the survival time, untreated, is 1-2 months. Great. 1/2 dead at diagnosis. But actually, I digress a little.

    Would you spend the money for chemo to try to give him the average survival of 6-9 months (no guarantee of that) or would you let nature take its course quickly?

    I am crazy and am going to spend the money. I need him with me for as long as possible I just need him. Until he is suffering, of course, I am not that selfish.

    It was quite hard and hours up all night of intense consideration, as we had to start ASAP.

    If you would do it, would you go into CC debt to do it? Fortunately I will only have to a little (thank goodness for lost of purse selling recently!), but I was curious if anyone had to make this decision and what you did.

    He had his first chemo yesterday and already is eating well and no longer spitting up in the morning.

    Definitely put me on a total purse ban no question!
  2. #2 Sep 23, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
    >I am crazy and am going to spend the money.

    You absolutely are not crazy. I'm not sure what to say, primarily because we went through a rough patch in the past year with two birds, and it's still raw enough that I'm not sure how much help I could be. But I do want to stress that you are *NOT* crazy.

    We had a pionus parrot (Corazon) who had medical problems her whole life. For fifteen years, I gave her oral meds with an eyedropper every other day. Her yearly vet bill was easily $600, and that was just for the bloodwork. But you know, last year, she developed kidney problems in June. We easily dropped another $6000 over the following six months, to keep her going and happy as best as we possibly could. (One of the best avian vets on the ast coast, and we al fought damn hard.) She died in my hands the night after Christmas, but she was still happy and looking for headrubs up until only hours before, and looking back, that is what realy matters to us.

    Two months after Corazon died, our elderly cockatiel (Persephone) became sick. Again we fought, two weeks and another thousand dollars, before she passed. But again, she was happy and ooking for headrubs and cuddles right up until the night before she died in hospital. Again, that is what we look back at to find comfort.

    You are *****NOT****** crazy for spending the money, and you are *****NOT***** crazy for fighting.

    I also don't know if you have young children around you or not, but I want to also point out that sometimes watching their parents fight for a pet can be a good lesson for a child. Our daughter was seven when all of this was happening, and I can see how watching us fight for our birds has taught her some very adult life lessons.

  3. Wanted to add:

    And if I should relate it back to handbags, I'll say that this is why I never got my first LV last Mother's Day. I don't care one little bit ... I can still literally see Cora stretching to get to my shoulder on the last days, and I can still see Percy begging for her heady rubs.
    Not one, single regret.

    (And yeah, I'll be getting that LV this coming Valentine's day. But like I said, not one, single regret. None. And we are at peace. Still mourning, but at peace.)
  4. thanks momtok for the hugs and opinion. So sorry about your birdies. I do not have children, was it tough on yours (I assume from your avatar)?
  5. I am so sorry you and your furbaby have to go thru this.

    I have no idea what I would do in your situation. At first I thought the dog's age would influence my decision - then I second guessed myself. I know I would rely heavily on my vets opinion because I trust him and I know he would be honest with me. Although I don't know how much my emotions would overtake my practical side.

    Sorry I didn't offer any help.
  6. #6 Sep 23, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
    Yeah, that's her in my avatar. :smile:

    The night Cora died, she and my husband cried and held the body while I got a spare refrigerator ready to store Cora overnight. (She was a medical mystery her whole life, and there was no question our vet would be doing an autopsy. It turned out to be auto-immune disease, which the experts know very little about in birds. Hopefully her data will help.)

    When Percy died, I think daughter was more ready for it, because it was ony two months later. But we made a few fast and frantic trips to the vet those two weeks, and daughter went on most of them with me. She was probably the most mature I've ever seen her during those days. She 'got it', and worked with us in a way seven year olds don't often do. Her sense of responsibility, determination, even empathy, skyrocketed during those months. I see a permanent change in her.

    But I want to say again ... do NOT call yourself 'crazy'. You're not. You're responsible; you're determined; you're the exact opposite of shallow; and you have your priorities in line. The animals you're responsible for will have better lives for it, and *you* will have more peace as you look back. You'll be able to look more confidently into your family members' eyes (whether they be human eyes or pet eyes), and there's something very real to be said for being able to confidently look yourself in the mirror, and know, deep down, that you *genuinely* did your best. You are not not not not not crazy.

  7. Everone's thoughts help, thank you!. He is only 7-1/2, when the breed can live 14-15. Yes, I too would take age into consideration; I have a 12 year old, I don't think I would do the same with her. Sometimes the hard decisions need to be made.

    Often your vet won't come out and tell you what to do. They present all the options to you. So sometimes I ask, "If it was 'your' dog what would you do?"

    My vet told me what she would do if it was the less lethal form, but I haven't talked to her since this diagnosis (have been dealing with oncologist at the moment)
  8. I had a cat called Jasper, who at the age of 9 was diagnosed with heart disease. The vet said he would be lucky to survive a two months. We ended up locating a cardiologist and put him under treatment and Jasper ending up living another 15 months (and was happy and not in pain) until he finally ended up with lymphoma also and passed away.

    All up it cost us about $15,000 in treatment and medication, which of course sounds like a lot, but it wasn't paid all at once.

    For us the decision came down to a few facts:

    Firstly Jasper was a very sociable cat, who liked being handled, wasn't afraid of vets or car travel.

    Secondly, all of his treatments weren't painful or traumatic for him. At the end he was on 9 tablets a day. I would call him and he would run up and sit on a kitchen stool, whilst I popped tablets into him and he didn't mind!!

    And, thirdly, but most importantly, he had quality of life - he was well and happy - not just surviving, but really living!

    Once the end came and we knew there was nothing else we could do - he stopped eating and wasn't happy, then we made the decision to let him go.

    You have to decide if you are doing this for yourself, or if it is in your dog's best interest.

    I really feel for you, because it is so hard. We have another cat with cancer now, but he is 17. He had surgery to remove two tumours, which he recovered from very well, but it has spread into his lymphatic system. I did not entertain the thought of chemo because of his age, so whilst he is well at the moment, I know the time is coming.

    Good luck with your decision. Sorry about my long post, but know everyone is thinking of you.
  9. Thanks oscarlily, we do alll have our sad stories, eh? It is the cost of loving beings with such short lifespans. It sounds like you have made good decisions.

    My dog only staryed to feel unwell about 3 days ago so we jumped right on it. We will be taking it a week at a time and monitor his vitals and his quality of life. It's about all I can do.

    I'm sorry about your cats. It's so tough.

    I didn't realize how many stories we all have so similar...
  10. momtok your words are so wise and it sounds like your daughter will be like you
  11. #11 Sep 23, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
    I am so so sorry :sad: my boy Boomie was diagnosed with aggressive cancer - hemangiosarcoma. If it wasn't for CareCredit, i couldn't have done anything. His emergency surgery was $1500. His tumor had burst in his spleen and it had to be removed immediately since he was bleeding internally. All told, i spent $3000 to keep him happy for 5 months. We had bad days that were outnumbered by good days. I am so thankful I threw money at his cancer. I have no regrets, no "what ifs." he had a hearty appetite up until the end, it was actually the day that he stopped eating that i knew it was time.

    I say do what you can so you have no regrets. There will be a time when you have to ask yourself if you are keeping your friend more for you than for him, but you will know when that time comes. my Boomer was just 8 and he was my sunshine. I know how you feel :sad: i tried a round of chemotherapy, holistic meeds and a special diet. I am so relieved to know i did all i could. He actually gained weight towards the end..no wasting away for him!

    Best wishes to you and your dog. Miracles do happen. Maybe he'll be one if them and outlive expectations!
  13. I just went through something like this with my Greyhound Jesse. He had bone cancer and it was in his shoulder, there was no way to amputate. At first he would just limp off and on. I had an x-ray done but it didn't show anything. Then he wouldn't use the leg at all. I had another x-ray done and she found the bone cancer in his shoulder. I chose to just let him go. There was no way to manage his pain and I wasn't keeping him around for me. I think as long as he is not in pain and is still enjoying his life I would probably continue with the treatment. When his bad days outnumber the good you will know it's time. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I guess every animal lover has to go through it. (((HUGS))))
  14. Aw Cindi so sorry about your GH :o(. Too bad it wasn't in a place they could amputate and thus relieve the pain. I went through that with a dog it is horrible.

    Aw hell, all this cancer is horrible! Maybe I shouldn't have started a downer thread, I just needed to talk, and I would just cry with my IRL girlfriends I am not ready to talk to them yet.

    So thanks all tpf friends for listening!
  15. You are absolutely not crazy! So sorry you're going through this!

    We've done the same for our pets numerous times.. my dog Whisky has heart problems so she's currently on meds that's $600 a month! One of our cats got hit by a car and lost all the skin on his hind leg and his tail was damaged, we decided to amputate both and he's now back to his cute happy self!

    My SO's family golden retriever Barney had a malignant tumour on his front leg at 3 yo, they did everything they could to make him better, he had chemo too.. it was horrible.. he couldn't keep his food down and he was lethargic and miserable the whole time. But he's now 6 yo and is healthy and happy as anything! So it was all well worth it!

    Wishing you and your dog all the best!! :hugs: