Lucy my 11 year old Border Collie has had quite a month! I was hoping to share and see if anyone had any experience in this situation and any opinions are so appreciated. I expected Lucy to be around to the ripe old age of 15+ and I want to do everything possible to get her as close to that as I can. I have had her since she was 3 months old and she is a truly special dog.
About a month ago we took Lucy for an Ultra Sound to see if she had bladder stones (months of recurrent UTI's). Unfortunately and in a crazy way fortunately they found an unexpected tumor in her intestine (no bladder stones). What a whirlwind. Long story short we went to surgery after staging her with X-Rays of her chest, Abdomen, bloodwork, and a Fine Needle Biopsy. They did an exploratory and found the tumor to actually be in her cecum. The size was approximately 2.5 centimeters. They removed her entire Cecum and now we are almost 3 weeks post op. It was a rough few weeks but she is back and eager to get in the car and to explore like she used to do daily. The Dr. has released her activity restriction and said we can do stairs and walks just no off leash running. I am making her stay off stairs for another week because I can't stop worrying about her (to strict I know).
We had a meeting with the oncologist on Thursday when we had her stitches out. Bottom line is it was a sarcoma - a GIST tumor. Low Grade 1. There is no sign of spread on x-rays or during the exploratory, lymph node is clear (they did take one for biopsy) and blood vessel of some sort I believe, margins were clear were it was cut out. The only negative ( I guess could be very negative ) is that the GIST tumor did make it to the outermost layer (Serosa ) of the Cecum. So even though the margins are clear it does touch things. So she is at risk. There is a possibility that a cell could have dropped somewhere or made a move when it touched something and that is currently microscopic IF it is there.
They gave us 2 options. The Cancer doctor did say his thought is her demise will be of something else in her old age and not this. He is very well known and very big in the Animal Cancer world. We lucked out to be close to this hospital.
Option 1. Is the conservative approach. We Ultrasound every 4 months for 1 1/2 years. If nothing has shown up by then it will not and it is all over.
Option 2. We start her on Pallidia (anti-cancer pill). She will take this Mon, wed, and Friday for 6 months. The hope is if there is something there we kill it and it never grows. I know there is weekly bloodwork involved with this for about 4 weeks then every few weeks. The medicine I am sure is not cheap. I am guessing from a few people at the hospital it is around $350 ish a month for pills plus cost for the bloodwork.
I am going back and forth on these options and I just can't make myself follow through on one. We have about 1-2 weeks to decide if we are going to do option 2. Her insurance was wiped out with surgery and it will be a very expensive 6 months but if it is right I would do anything for her.
I keep thinking how horrible it is to put her on this chemo treatment if nothing spread. I know they say it is fairly safe with mild side effects. Normally gastrointestinal if they have any. Because it is a pill every other day if for some reason she can not handle the pills we just stop. It seems like I would be feeding her poison for 6 months and not be sure she even needs it. If we go conservative and something grows then the easy answer is to start the pill then.
I asked his recommendation and his answer is how much risk do you want to take. I know they cant really tell you what to do but I wish they would. I tried to find info online on this situation to see if any dogs had the cancer grow to an outer layer and not spread and am having a very hard time finding anything. Apparently it is rare to have caught this so early.
We would love to hear any advice, experience, opinions you may have. It is so great to be able to communicate with other dog lovers. Only we can understand how important these animals are to us.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this.