Chemo, Radiation or None of the Above?

@hofferp (4739)
United States
May 11, 2010 9:45am CST
Since 1981, I've had 12 Shetland Sheepdogs, usually three, four, and at one time, five, at a time. In 2008, I lost one of my three Shelties, Mystique, to a heart attack, but I didn't get another friend, so I was down to two. Last October, I lost another Sheltie, Reecie, to a heart condition, so I was down to one. Sundance, my boy, and I were so lonely, I don't know who moped more, him or me. So right before Christmas 2009, I drove to Arkansas to pick up an 8-year-old Sheltie, Emily. Emily had been a show dog/b*tch for several breeders. She had lost her last two litters and was "no good" as a breeder and needed a home as someone's pet...MINE. Emily is a beautiful little girl... Yesterday, I took her to the vet because she had started urinating constantly, and everywhere, including in the house, which she hadn't done when I got her, and I noticed blood in her urine. I figured she had a bladder infection or something easy to "fix". I left her at the vet's hospital overnight, so they could check her out completely. When I had her spayed and her teeth cleaned about a month ago, we didn't do a "complete" checkup, there wasn't anything bothering her to call for sonogram, ultrasound, x-rays, etc. About 5 p.m., my vets called. While we'll have to wait until the results of some tests to get back from Albuquerque, NM, the initial diagnosis is bladder cancer...and the bladder looks in horrible shape. The doctors held out a little hope. There's a bladder cancer specialist in Arizona, and they suggested we plan to go there for help, IF the initial diagnosis is correct. (I have great confidence in my vets and I doubt that they'll be wrong...) Right now, my plan is to do whatever I can, but even if chemo or radiation therapy are options (which at this time, I don't think they), I don't think I'll go that route. I think I'm leaning toward, short, quality of life, rather than possibly longer, but poorer quality of life for Emily. I started reading up on herbal remedies/alternative medicine last night, and between what the doctor in Arizona and my doctors prescribe, plus diet/herbal remedies, that's the way I'm planning on going. I'm not willing to give up on her...as costly as this is going to become. Have you ever had to nurse a pet through cancer? What did you do? Not do? What would you do in this situation? (I'm retired, living on a pension. It's adequate, but I'm not sure if I can afford what I'm about to face...)
4 people like this
6 responses
@AmbiePam (44635)
• United States
13 May 10
I think, that as hard as it would be, if the prognosis was not good at all, I would probably just let her live the rest of her life out. Unless, the pain was so bad, then I would sadly put her to sleep. Man, just the thought makes me cry for you guys. I just remember a friend I used to have who had several dogs. One of them had cancer, and she got into a lot of debt caring for that dog. But that wasn't what was sad. The dog was obviously bad off with little hope of ever recovering, but she kept up the treatments and the poor thing just kept suffering. She couldn't let the dog go, but as a result, the poor thing suffered more. But doing what you have planned seems like a good way to go. Just letting her enjoy the rest of her life, and doing the herbal and diet changes to try to help her. I know I would go all out if Sherlock ever got sick. I'd probably spend every penny I had and then some.
1 person likes this
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
13 May 10
I still haven't decided what I'm going to do...she's so active right now. She just pees everywhere and whenever. I started her on a new diet yesterday and on the new medication tonight; the herbal remedy won't be in for a few more days. Tomorrow I find out if we need to do a biopsy on Friday. It's one day at a time right now, but maybe after this next couple of weeks, we'll know a little more what to do, what direction to take. Thank you so much for your concern, AmbiePam. I'll probably keep everyone posted on her progress... Have a great evening.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (44635)
• United States
13 May 10
I really pray for a miracle.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (44635)
• United States
29 May 10
That is awesome.
@dawnald (84124)
• Shingle Springs, California
13 May 10
Gosh, do you think that's why she lost the puppies? :-( The one time I had a pet with cancer, it was a cat with a tumor under her tongue, not operable, and she couldn't eat, so we had to put her down.
1 person likes this
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
13 May 10
When I had her spayed a little over a month ago, they said that her uterus was wrapped in scar tissue (she had had C-sections before). They also told me that the cancer, because it's so far along, had probably been there before I got her. It could be the scar tissue and/or the cancer that made her lose her last two litters. The breeder I got her from is distraught. She had no idea of the scar tissue or the cancer...or I'm sure she never would have sold her to me. She was just looking for a home for Emily. She had only had Emily for a year or so herself. She bought her from a breeder in Georgia... I still haven't found out what kind of cancer; hopefully, the test results tonight will tell us. I don't really want to take her in tomorrow morning for a biopsy...but I will if necessary. Thanks for your concern, Dawn.
1 person likes this
@dawnald (84124)
• Shingle Springs, California
13 May 10
Sad, but I hope it ends up being a less nasty cancer, if that's possible...
1 person likes this
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
16 May 10
The test results didn't come in on Thursday or Friday morning, so I re-scheduled the biopsy for Tuesday morning. The results still weren't back this morning. I don't want to put her through a biopsy if I don't have to, so I'm waiting for results, one way or another. I'm hoping there is such a thing as a less nasty cancer. She's still jumping around like a puppy, so it's not affected her yet...
@sid556 (31018)
• United States
11 May 10
Hi there, My daughter had a sheltie for 10 years. Beautiful dogs. I have never had to nurse a pet through cancer but I tend to agree with your decision to go herbal and shoot for the shorter but better quality life. Chemo and radiation are harsh and really tear at the quality of life in human's. I can only imagine what it would do to a small little Sheltie. Best of luck to you and little Emily. She is lucky to have you.
1 person likes this
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
11 May 10
Hi, Sid, thanks for the wishes. We'll get through this...not sure how, but we will. Yes, I've always loved Shelties, even before I owned one. Now I'm on number 12. I was planning on a number 13, a blue merle puppy, but now my plans are on hold. I think Emily will need all the attention I can give her. Thanks, again, and have a great day.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
11 May 10
Hi hofferp, I am so sorry to hear this. Loosing your dogs one after another surely broke your heart. I know how it feels like. Lost my playmate when I was 15 and she and I had a long way back when she was just a pup and I was just 4. It was painful to loose her so I feel your pain too. Are there not any government sponsored treatment facility that could help you get help for your dog at a low price? Perhaps you could look into this. I know you don't want to give up but you are right it's better for a short but quality life for Emily than a long one but no longer enjoyable. Ask your vets what would possibly happen after the treatment. Would it affect your dog's daily life? and so on....also I know the budget is always an important thing to consider. Do you have pet insurance? Perhaps you can use it now.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 May 10
So sorry to hear about Ms. Emily. Know that you are probably doing the best thing you can by giving her quality of life vs quantity. Many dogs that go through the cancer treatment often have to have the treatments repeated. My sister is facing the same thing with her Stafordshire terrier and we know that the best thing we can do for him is to make him comfortable. Since she can not control her bladder you may be able to get her doggie pants to help reduce the mess she makes.
1 person likes this
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
11 May 10
I just got back from the vets'. If I hadn't heard she was so sick, you wouldn't know it by the way she acts. She's been running, jumping, barking (she's glad to be home)... We won't know what type of cancer or how to treat it until the results of the tests come back later this week. My surgeon said he'd find out by Thursday night and if the test results didn't tell us what kind of cancer she had, he'd do a biopsy (surgery) on her Friday morning. We have to know what kind of cancer to talk treatments. My female vet did say something about chemo...I wasn't going that far down the line. I'm looking at tomorrow when I pick up a special compound (medication) for her to reduce the swelling in her bladder. Hopefully, that will help reduce her constant need to pee. If it doesn't, well we move on and doggie pants certainly may be in order. I can't stand the thought and where I live it would be dangerous (we have mountain lions, coyotes, eagles, etc.) to leave her outside all the time. Thanks so much for your concern, and have a great day.
@ctrymuziklvr (11063)
• United States
11 May 10
I feel so bad about your situation! I'm living on social security and just have a cat who is quite old and worry what will I do if he becomes sick? As it is he needs his claws trimmed and I can't afford it. I sympathise with you and really can't offer much but consolation. I'm sure you will figure out the right thing to do. Good luck!
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
11 May 10
Thank you so much for your kind words. This is one time I wish I were rich. I'd try everything I could to keep her alive. But even then, I don't think I'd try chemo or radiation (not that I think they even will suggest it). Maybe the doctor in Arizona can work miracles...that's what I'm hoping for right now. I hope your friend stays healthy for you. Have a great day and I better go pick up my little girl from the hospital...