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Discussion in 'Diseases & Illnesses' started by MissyGallant, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. MissyGallant

    MissyGallant Premium Member

    Dec 20, 2011
    Sheridan, Indiana
    Hi everyone, today I was hit a HUGE devastating blow. Annabelle has lymphoma. We are trying to decide to treat with chemo, or steroids to make her comfortable. She doesn't seem to be suffering at all right now. She's our happy bouncy Annabelle. But the glands in her throat are HUGE, and that is effecting her breathing. Our vet has recommended a specialist, and I have that call made. Our normal vet won't say stages or things that he isn't comfortable with. So, I don't know from stages yet. There seems to possibly be a small spot on a lung. There is a lot of white in her chest area that could be fat or could be more swollen lymph nodes.

    Basically, I am coming here today to see if anyone else has experience with this. And should I lose all of my hope?
  2. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Forums Enthusiast

    Jun 17, 2010
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    We went back and forth over a diagnosis in 2015 was it IBS or Lymphoma? The diagnosis came back with Lymphoma, but they told us it would only be weeks or months if we chose not to go with chemo. Bailey was 13 when he was diagnosed in September and just the testing for him proved to be extremely stressful and uncomfortable. After consulting with the specialist we went back to our primary and had a long talk about using steroids to keep him comfortable for what we believed would be weeks or a month. He lived until almost the end of June, another 9 months. We were told even with chemo he'd have at best 6 months to a year. It might have been that we caught it at its very earliest stages I don't know. I just know he wouldn't have tolerated chemo.

    That's why I chose to post this for you. I've dealt with cancer in my family in humans and in dogs. Humans have the opportunity to decide how far to go with treatment, how hard they want to fight, how long, etc. I've had family do everything possible under the sun and we've had those who for their own reasons decided they weren't up for the fight. It is a hard journey either way.

    When it comes to our pets, we have to choose for them. Based on my 13 years of experience with Bailey I decided he'd want the equivalent of dog hospice care at home. The chance to be with his beloved Katy for as long as time would allow rather than spending time in vets offices getting chemo. If the time comes with one of the girls we will again decide based on circumstances. What is best for them. Knowing how they've lived what would they want.

    As for hope I don't know what to say. I stopped expecting things with Bailey. I so badly wanted him to make it to Christmas. We have a big family gathering at Christmas and he loved seeing everyone. I refused to surrender until Christmas. After Christmas I started being grateful for each day and thankful. Come Spring, it was clear our miracle wasn't going to last forever, but I was still grateful for every day.

    I hope someone will post who has gone the chemo route to give you some perspective on what to expect.
    Jams, Chris, Sharon7 and 1 other person like this.
  3. ghggp

    ghggp Moderator

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I am so very sorry to hear of Annabelle’s cancer diagnosis. I know it is a punch in the gut to get this devastating news. Nothing prepares you for it.

    Bailey’s mom, you have such good advice and perspective and I personally thank you for your wonderful post!

    I can only add that my Laddie had bone cancer. Due to his advanced age and the fast progression of the cancer I opted not to go the cemo route as it would not have given him anymore quality of life and he was such a high strung dog. I knew all the doctor visits would have stressed him out further.

    That said, we did nothing but give him pain killers and anti nausea pills to make him comfortable. I was given a three week to three month life expectancy. He lived 9 months after his diagnosis. The hospice vet said she had never seen a dog last that long with his type of bone cancer.

    Sometimes less is more. An individual decision for sure.

    Prayers and virtual hugs to you and Annabelle.
    Jams, Sharon7 and Bailey's Mom like this.
  4. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Southern California
    I'm so incredibly sorry to hear about Annabelle. I tend to go to the "dark side" when something like this happens to me, probably because I'm a nurse and have seen so much illness. But, no I don't think you give up hope, especially now in the early stages. Only you know what kind of treatment she will tolerate, as far as invasive interventions go. I'm told dogs tolerate the actual chemo much better than people, but it may be the frequent vet visits, labs, tests, etc would be something she would be distressed over. Take it one step at a time and try not to project into the future too much. In my lifetime, the end has always been very different from what you thought it would be, so go day to day.:hugs
    Jams and ghggp like this.
  5. mimiretz

    mimiretz Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 14, 2014
    I want to add my sympathies to all of you, both two-legged and four-legged. Having a pet with cancer is incredibly difficult; as pointed out above they can't tell you what their wishes are and yet it's up to us to make the decision on quality of life issues. Our previous cat, Persephone, was diagnosed with cancer. We chose to go the steroid route and forego chemo, even though she was only 9, because the vet felt that it had been in her for a fairly long period of time and that even the tests that would tell us what kind of cancer she had (necessary for the type of chemo) would be extremely invasive and cause her a lot of pain. We were told to expect 6, maybe even 9 months of fairly normal behavior. A week later she was gone.

    It boils down to what you feel Annabelle's quality of life will be, with either path. I agree that if you're still in the early stage you need to see what the prognosis is. I would never tell anyone to give up hope; sometimes it's all we have to keep us from screaming and never stopping. Ultimately I have perfect faith in you and your love for this wonderful companion to know that you will make the decision that's best for her.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Jams and ghggp like this.
  6. The Quahog

    The Quahog Forums Enthusiast

    Dec 1, 2009
    Rhode island
    No, you should not give up hope. If you can swing it and get to a good oncologist many lymphomas are amongst our more treatable malignancies these day. Of course you would need a biopsy to give you an idea of what you are dealing with, but I have seen many patients with lymphoma have many years of quality lives.
    KarenCurtis, Caro, Ann and 3 others like this.
  7. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    Sending prayers for you and Annabelle. I know you will find the right path for her. Sending you hugs. :hugs
  8. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    I'm so saddened to hear the news.

    What a tough decision you have to make. I don't know what I would do in your position. I guess you can only hope you know Annabelle well enough to know what she would tell you.
  9. MissyGallant

    MissyGallant Premium Member

    Dec 20, 2011
    Sheridan, Indiana
    I have an update. Right now, Annabelle is rolling around on the pile of clean laundry making sure that every thread of fabric contains her smell. She's had 3 doses of steroids, and the lumps are almost completely gone. Her breathing is much easier. We've decided to at least talk to the cancer specialist to see. I have a lot of questions. Our normal vet said he thinks it's lymphoma, but that he isn't the expert. So, first, let's make sure that it is. The lumps almost vanishing is making me wonder. But our vet said some million dollar words about how whatever cells he looked at are very high and the cells for infection aren't there. They were full on medical terms that I can't even begin to spell or pronounce or frankly- remember. He specialist appointment is on the 24th.
    Sharon7, Ann, ghggp and 3 others like this.
  10. The Quahog

    The Quahog Forums Enthusiast

    Dec 1, 2009
    Rhode island
    Well, to try and 'demystify'. There are two types of blood cells - red blood cells which carry oxygen to the cells and white blood cells which fight off infection. There are two types of white blood cells - those that actually kill off invading bacteria (neutrophils) and those that produce antibodies against diseases (lymphocytes). Lymphocytes are generally found mostly in the lymph nodes, and are the cells involved with lymphoma. (note the similar names.) So what he is telling you is that there are not a lot of neutrophils, which would mean infection, but that there are a lot of lymphocytes, which most likely suggests lymphoma. So, yes, either getting a biopsy or, better, seeing a specialist would be a good idea.
    As all here, I am very happy to heat that Annabelle is doing better and the steroids appear to be causing some remission. Wishing you all the best.
    Sharon7, Hanne, Ann and 3 others like this.

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