Registered: 1558797008 Posts: 4
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In November 2017 our girl Ginger(11 year old yellow lab) had a mast cell tumor removed from her hip. The biopsy came back as a low grade 1 and her Dr gave her a promising prognosis. A year later she has developed a belch/gag action so we take her in and the vet gives her a clean bill of health and says she is just belching. She is eating and drinking fine and just slowing down a bit at chasing a frisbee. We spend Christmas with our family and of course Ginger goes with us on the 1000 mile trip. She does fine. In February 2019 she is still belching and her bark sounds hoarse so we schedule another vet visit for March. This time I have noticed a new lump above her left front elbow and show it to the vet. This vet is at the same office but not the vet who did her surgery. She listens to the heart and lungs and tries to take a sample 3 times from the lump and says it isn't cancer because she can't get any cells. The heart and lungs are good. She decides its acid reflux and puts Ginger on Pepcid or equivalent and a antibiotic in case the acid had caused an infection. After we started trying to get her to take the medicine is when she got picky about eating. We took her back 2 weeks later because the belching sounded wet. She has lost 4 lbs since getting medicine 2 weeks prior and no longer barks at all. The same dr that took 3 samples of the lump decided to do xrays this time. She showed us the xrays and points to white splotches in the lungs and says it looks like cancer to her and that the mast cell from 2017 had moved to the lungs it seems. I was shocked as the prognosis from 2017 was she would see 5 more years before cancer would reservice from the mast cell. I asked for a biopsy and was told they won't do lung biopsies there because it is so hard on the dog. I am asking all sorts of questions at this point about how are suppose to know for sure without a biopsy and we basically are told that a biopsy can be done at a specialist 2 hours away and that they are going to tell us the same thing and charge us thousands of dollars and they will promise they can help her for thousands more. She made it sound like we were completely dumb for even thinking about trying that. I asked for confirmation that it wasn't something else like an infection and she put Ginger on Baytril and a steroid and told us to come back in 2 weeks. My husband and I cried and cried and then I called the next day to schedule her with her original Dr from 2017. She started eating better with the steroid but was still picky picky and if she ate more than a handful of anything she would vomit it back up. We were to wean her from the steroid in 1 week and that caused her to really get picky and she was still having to take the antibiotics baytril. I was having to put it down her throat to get it down her. She didn't want food unless it was pizza crust but she did continue playing frisbee. Before the 2 weeks were up I called and needed in sooner. She has lost 2 more lbs. Her original dr took more xrays and literally told us he could not rule out cancer and that we would have to do a method of ruling other things out. He told us she doesn't have an infection but to keep her on the baytril and give her the steroid instead of weaning her off. At this time, now that I think clearly, they had not done any blood tests other than the test on the lump so how do they know it wasn't an infection? We went home that night thinking we could fix whatever this was. We weren't given any idea that within 8 days she wouldn't be able to breathe or that we should look for her last days to be coming up. Nothing to prepare us or her for the end. She was only alone for an hour each day and that was just when my husband left for work and I get home an hour later each day. 8 days later I come home and she has vomitted foam and fallen in it. I carried her to the couch and cleaned her up as she wagged her tail. She was very weak and her gums were bluish. I tried getting water down her but she vomited it back up. I called my husband to get home. I loved in her and let our other 5 fur babies love on her until he and our son got home to say goodbye. She was struggling terribly by then and I thought the responsible thing for her was to let her be put to sleep. We took her to her original Dr and he didn't even examine her and I was out of my mind with crying and grief so I didn't ask the questions I think I should have. Afterwards they said they would send her to be cremated individually on Monday (this was Thursday) and she would be back by the middle of next week. Monday morning I was at the vets when they opened and wanted a necropsy done before they sent her to the crematory. I was then told that she had been sent off right after she was put down and that I must have mis heard them that day. They called later Monday afternoon and said her ashes were back. My husband was glad to have her back in the house but I am still angry. I am angry because I am afraid we let them euthanize her and that it wasn't cancer and that we should have taken her to get the biopsy.I am angry that they didn't prepare us better so that I could have prepared her better and she wouldn't have suffered at all. We have since changed vets as we can't stand to think of going back there. I want to have her records sent to another vet to see what they say. She died on April 4th. And not a day goes by that I don't bawl my eyes out. My other dogs, 4 Poms and 1 Lab, miss her also. We can't say her name out loud or they start looking for her. Again how do I know if it was cancer? There are all kinds of photos of xrays on line that look like hers but are cancer and arent cancer. If you look up old dog lung on Google you will see a photo of what I seen when I seen her xrays. I miss that dog more than any human I have lost I think because it was my job to keep her healthy and because she loved us so much. She wanted to be where ever we were in the house all the time and slept with my son every night her whole life.
Registered: 1457620483 Posts: 539
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Gingers_mom, I’m sorry you lost her. The sad reality is you may never know if it was cancer. My advice would be to think about her symptoms and her quality of life and in the end did it really matter? You did the humane thing. Ginger hadn’t wanted to eat for a long time and that’s always a sign that something is very, very wrong. Steroids are just a bandaid that perhaps extended her life more than she wanted. It’s one of those grey areas not being able to get a proper diagnosis but I would have to agree that a lung biopsy would be so hard on her and would you really want that? It’s so evident how much you loved her so you are heavy in grief right now and are trying to find an answer that really may make no difference at all. She was a very sick girl. You made the humane decision out of your deep love for her. You need to grieve but in that grief try to remember all the wonderful times you shared. Ginger wouldn’t want to see you being so torn about whether she had cancer. She is at peace and would want the same for you. Hug your other dogs and cry for Ginger. They will be healing tears even though it will take some time. It will get better. Hugs to you!
Registered: 1558797008 Posts: 4
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Your words are full of wisdom and I thank you. You are right in every way I just miss her so much and her thumping tail. She loved me more than anything I think and my guilt is driving me crazy. I go back and forth with knowing it was right and then second guessing everything we tried. Again thank you, your words do help some.