karenmetfan
Hi, I'm Karen and my sweet boy, Manny, is around 11 years old, a lab/pit/??? mix.  He's been diagnosed with anal gland cancer in both glands and it has spread to 4 lymph nodes (4 swollen on ultrasound).  Needle biopsies were done on Monday of both glands and 1 lymph node (all the Dr could get to due to location).  

I have decided against surgery and daily radiation due to his age.  Doing surgery alone without radiation offers him the same prognosis as doing chemo and weekly radiation.  I just can't through the surgery as they have to go through the abdomen to get to the lymph nodes and no guarantee they can get them all.

I am wrestling with deciding if I can go deep into debt to cover the cost of the radiation if it will only give us a few more months.  I'm trying to come to terms with just doing chemo and holding off on radiation (or not doing it at all).  I have been falling apart all day trying to come to terms with all of this.  It is just so overwhelming--the diagnosis, the cost, trying to figure out how to pay for it (will apply for CareCredit) as the bills/payment schedule comes in, knowing if I do the radiation I will be paying it off for years, ...  I know you all know what I'm dealing with right now.  

I have seen Manny slow down over the past year or so, showing his age more and more.  Other than arthritis in his hips/knees and seasonal allergies, he is (or was) in good health.  He's showing no symptoms right now.  

I'm trying to decide, if, given his age and his slowing down, should I even consider radiation and the huge cost?  I'm going to tell the oncologist that I want to try chemo first and wait on radiation, but what do I do when I need to say yes, let's do it or say no.  

I would greatly appreciate any advice you all may have.  I am at a loss and just don't know what to do.  I'm trying to make the right decision for both of us, but mainly for him. Having to face his mortality sooner than I anticipated and having to consider cost in his treatment plan has brought me to my knees.  I'm struggling right now.
Karen
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silvermini3
My Beau had cancer. He was nine, still young for his breed and size. It was an aggressive and incurable cancer. We really had no treatment options other than palliative care.  So that's what I did. It had come out of nowhere and the week after the diagnosis, I freed him. Different from your situation a little. All I can offer is that it is a personal decision and different for every owner and every pet. I freed Beau before the worst of the cancer took hold. Not all would have done this, some would have. I made my decision on who he was and what I thought he could tolerate and not tolerate physically and emotionally. So I took into consideration not only the physical changes I was seeing, but the emotional/mental changes. The vet visits he began to hate, the draining of the fluid from his abdomen left him out of it. So I decided to just provide palliative care, love him and care for him for what would be our last week and I decided to free him when I saw his frustration with trying to "live" with it. That is jut my personal experience. May not be right for you in your circumstance. It was hard, we are given a diagnosis and are in a way, asked to be a doctor with our decision making. We likely have no prior experience with this and it's a heavy weight to carry. 

Although these tow sites deal with post loss, they also deal with pre loss. Lap of love had good information on quality of life. There is a short video on it as well as articles. Moira Anderson Allen has good articles on it and pre-loss too. 

http://www.lapoflove.com/

http://www.pet-loss.net/

I'm sorry and I wish you and Manny the best with what you are dealing with right now. You will do what's best for him. We all do.
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tashleyd
aww Im so sorry to hear of your Manny
We just started chemo treatments for my beagle, but he is only 5.  Im not sure how I would handle if he was 11.
Now I recently had another beagle, she was 13 and had tumors really bad. she was way too old to do surgery, in my opinion.  she went over to the rainbow bridge 3 weeks ago today :(

Im sure whatever you decide, it will be tough. but we are here for you.

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camunki
I am sorry to hear about your Manny and I am glad you are weighing the healthiest of options for him.

My dog Daizy has Mast Cell cancer, and I put her on these "chemo pills" called Kinavet (which works well for Mast cell tumors) which cost me around $275 per month and I did this for 6 months straight, again the cancer came back several months after being off these pills... had the tumor removed, and put her on these pills again for another 6 months.....eventually after a few months the pills no longer helped and the cancer did spread. For me, money wasn't even in the picture, i'd spend as much as i had to keep her alive and that was what i did, until the pills no longer worked and the cancer became aggressive. I did give her and extra 29 months of life keeping her on/off these pills as opposed to doing nothing.

Yes, speak to your oncologist about trying chemo first, I do wish you the best with your Manny!

Cam


 
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karenmetfan
Just ordered the Palladia on-line.  $500 per month.  Egads!  I pray it can at least get him to his Gotcha Day in April.  Just let us have 1 more together. my love.jpg 
Karen
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karenmetfan
Thank you.  I am sorry you lost your Beau to this horrible disease.  Due to his age, I'm going the palliative route as well. Right now Manny's acting like his old self.  The Lap of Love site has some very useful information.

I've come to grips, for the most part, with having to take finances into consideration in deciding the course of treatment to pursue.  Now I'm trying to come to grips with how much this is costing and how on earth I will be able to pay for it all.  I applied for and received CareCredit.  I was hoping to be approved for at least $10,000, but the credit line is for $8,000.  I'm sucking up my pride and setting up a GoFundMe page and pray I'm able to cover the costs of his treatment.  I can't bear the thought of having to stop treatment because I simply can't afford to do any more.  

silvermini3 wrote:
My Beau had cancer. He was nine, still young for his breed and size. It was an aggressive and incurable cancer. We really had no treatment options other than palliative care.  So that's what I did. It had come out of nowhere and the week after the diagnosis, I freed him. Different from your situation a little. All I can offer is that it is a personal decision and different for every owner and every pet. I freed Beau before the worst of the cancer took hold. Not all would have done this, some would have. I made my decision on who he was and what I thought he could tolerate and not tolerate physically and emotionally. So I took into consideration not only the physical changes I was seeing, but the emotional/mental changes. The vet visits he began to hate, the draining of the fluid from his abdomen left him out of it. So I decided to just provide palliative care, love him and care for him for what would be our last week and I decided to free him when I saw his frustration with trying to "live" with it. That is jut my personal experience. May not be right for you in your circumstance. It was hard, we are given a diagnosis and are in a way, asked to be a doctor with our decision making. We likely have no prior experience with this and it's a heavy weight to carry. 


Although these tow sites deal with post loss, they also deal with pre loss. Lap of love had good information on quality of life. There is a short video on it as well as articles. Moira Anderson Allen has good articles on it and pre-loss too. 

http://www.lapoflove.com/

http://www.pet-loss.net/

I'm sorry and I wish you and Manny the best with what you are dealing with right now. You will do what's best for him. We all do.
Karen
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meganwade3
Hi Karen -

I'm so sorry to hear about Manny's diagnosis. My sweet boy, Banks, was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma in early June. I brought him in as soon as I noticed something was off with him and it turned out that he had a mass on his small intestine that was about to rupture. The only way to save him in that moment was to do a VERY expensive surgery and at that point, doing nothing and letting him pass was completely out of the question for me. I was absolutely beside myself, frantic and desperate - I remember looking at the cost estimate they gave me to authorize the surgery and just thinking I would deal with the consequences later. He had been fine a few days before, so I wasn't anywhere near ready to accept that he might have to leave me. After the surgery, we pressed on with aggressive (and expensive) chemo, but unfortunately, Banks didn't respond well to any of the drugs we tried. Rather than push him further to gain maybe another week or two, I made the choice to help Banks cross the bridge on August 11th at 9:45pm. It was truly the worst day of my life. 

Looking back on his last 2 months of life now, I can say that I wouldn't have put him through the surgery and chemo had I known how his story was going to end. But I didn't know what the future held for my baby and I honestly think that I would have beat myself up forever with the uncertainty of knowing that maybe there could have been something I could have done to save him. However, I know that is my personality and everyone handles grief, loss, finances and guilt in completely different ways - like others have said, it's such a personal experience and choice that only you can make. I have no doubt that you will do what is best for you and Manny. 

Please know that you are both in my thoughts and I wish you the best. Keep us posted on Manny - he is such a gorgeous boy x

Megan




Megan
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karenmetfan
Thank you Megan.  I am so sorry you lost your baby, Banks.  :(  

I try to believe we are never given more than we can handle, but this has completely thrown me.  The only word I keep coming up with, and keep using/saying, is overwhelmed.  I just pray, now, that the chemo helps give my sweet boy, my precious Manny, time.  I've seen on Facebook how some dogs have not responded well to Palladia (which is what Manny will be on).  I pray he responds well to it.  If he does not, I'm not sure what I will do.  I don't know if I can bear that.
Karen
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meganwade3
Hi Karen,

I remember the "overwhelmed" feeling you are talking about - it's so much pressure we put on ourselves to make the best decisions we can for our best friends. We aren't (usually) doctors or experienced in these situations, yet we are their advocates and they can't tell us what they want. Also, knowing we will have to live with the consequences of those choices is almost unbearable. Every moment seems like a crisis and every single decision you make seems like it's the most important decision you've ever made. I joined a support group online that focused solely on cats with lymphoma and that helped me tremendously to have other people going through the same thing to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps you will be able to find one of those that specializes in Manny's cancer?

I know that dogs and cats respond quite differently to cancer drugs so I can't speak about Banks' journey, but I have a friend who had an older dog with cancer who went through chemo. Her sweet girl was given 6 months with treatment and ended up getting 6 times that, so don't get discouraged! She swears by the idea of not treating the animal like they're sick - and of course giving them LOTS of love. While I know every single case is totally different, keep positive and don't give up! And in the end, while I know it doesn't feel like it now, you can bear so much more than you think you can. I never in a million years would have imagined I was capable of getting through making the decisions I did in the last few months, but I think we find an inner strength when it comes to protecting our loved ones from suffering. 

I am sending so much love for you and Manny - please keep us posted on his journey! I'm really rooting for you guys :)

Megan x
Megan
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