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Why Do People Treat Their Pets for Cancer?
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Annie_WebMD_Staff posted:
Why Do People Treat Their Pets for Cancer? It sounds like a rhetorical question but Dr Ann Hohenhaus who is a vet oncologist asks that question in her newest blog entry from the Tales From the Pet Clinic .

I think we treat our pets for the same reason as we would treat our fellow humans if they have cancer -- we want them to get well. But sometimes treatment for animals isn't desirable or possible. And the prohibitive cost can make it an impossibility for many.

Dr Ann has a cute photo of Cuddles the cat who is being treated for cancer. Notice that the whiskers on one side of the face are shorter than the other and that's due to chemo.

Do any community members have experience with a pet that has had cancer? I do so the topic is one that I care about. My 5 pound Russian Blue cat Samantha died about a year and a half ago due to cancer. She was 11 years old and became ill in May 2009 and by August she was having breathing problems. We had to put her to sleep in September. That was such a hard decision but the quality of her life had diminished so much.

Treating Samantha for thyroid cancer with surgery or chemotherapy wasn't an option. We had to make an emergency visit to a top notch vet hospital in August and she had to be stabilized for her breathing. The vets tried to do a biopsy but she would have bled out. We were able to put her on prednisone and that only worked well for a month before it became ineffective.

I wish I could have saved her but it wasn't possible. In the end the vet bills totaled nearly $2000 and you pay beforehand with your credit card or hospital insurance. We didn't have pet insurance so we paid out of pocket.

The doctors involved were an emergency vet, a vet anesthesiologist, a vet internist, and all the vet techs who assisted. The hospital was one of the cleanest facilities I've ever seen.

If chemo were an option the vet bills would have topped up to $5000 and would have required us to visit a vet teaching university school that was out of state.

- Annie
There's nothing better than a warm fuzzy hug from your pet!
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Grandmaof03 responded:
Why did I start Chemo for my 12 year old beagle????

That is a question I am asked all of the time...

Long story short... I have a daughter who lives out of state with her family...I visit as much as I can...Last August I went for my grandsons 2nd birthday..I was gone for about 4 to 5 days and left "Mikey" with my Mom as I always did...when I came home, although he seemed fine I was outside with him and noticed he had what I thought was dried mucas around his nose so I called the vet and made an appointment for the next day...My vet is wonderful and during his exam he felt his lymphnodes in his legs were swollen...she did bloodwork but felt he had "Lymphoma" and felt it was very advanced...she asked me if I wanted a referal to a oncoligist and at the time I said "no" because I just was not sure what I was going to do. She put him on antibotics, I refused steriods at the time and we went home...4 days later Mikey was not doing good at all so I took him back for steriods which made him feel much better...when the resutls of the bloodwork came back she called me and told me that if I wanted to go to the oncoligist that I had to make that decission right away,,,I called my brother who I am very close with, sobbing asking him what he felt...He said, "lets go and just see what they have to say, we owe Mikey that"

The next day we went to the oncoligist...Mikey's cancer was very advanced...his blood count was only at 15..he was bleeding out, what I thought was mucas was actually blood dripping from his nose..but the oncoligist was optimistic that we could at least make him feel better..and hearing that was all I needed to hear..I would not leave him overnight like the oncoligist wanted because I did not want him to die without me holding him in my arms...so he got all his medications and we went home...

That night he got worse and worse,,,I took him into emergency and he was admitted to ICU (let me tell you they don't mess around in the doggy ICU, My sister in law is an ICU nurse and was so totally impressed) I asked to be informed if he got worse...At 9am the oncoligst called and Mikey was stable but needed a blood transfusion..I felt maybe it was just time for me to hold him...I was going to pick him up in a little while but at 930am I got the call that Mikey had passed away..

I have no regrets...even though I was not with Mikey I really feel that he was not alone and my faith causes me to believe that God was with Mikey when he crossed the bridge...

At first I wondered why a vet would choose oncoligy as a specialty...and now I know...because if nothing else..treatment can give our loved pets (friends) a little more time where they are feeling better...thats all I wanted. I knew Mikey was not going to live 10 more years..but I would have been ok if he lived another month and felt good during that time.

I am on disability so the cost was hard for me to cover..I knew walking in it was not going to be cheap..but I thought it was the right thing to do under all circumstances...I have another dog who has health problems...but if I was told she had cancer I would not wait I would see the oncoligist right away to see what could be done...

The picture on my profile is a picture of Mikey 1 month before he passed away...it is one of my favorites because he looks so comfortable and peaceful...I miss him everyday..I think about him and sometimes cry but mostly think of the 12 years of happiness he brought me...I rescued him from a shelter but truth be told he rescued me...

Thanks for letting me tell my story...it is an important part of my life...

Colleen
 
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AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM replied to Grandmaof03's response:
Dear Colleen-
Such a touching story. One thing you said really caught my attention. You asked why someone would chose oncology. I think it choses you. The science behind oncology is fascinating, the cases are challenging (your Mikey is a perfect example) and the experience (from my viewpoint) is rewarding. Oncologist can give hope when people often think there is none and in many cases we can give more quality and quantity of life. I am sorry you didn't get that for Mikey, but am glad you tried and feel like it was worthwhile.

Ann Hohenhaus
 
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HeartPaws replied to Grandmaof03's response:
Colleen,

I couldn't help but read your story because my dog passed away sadly from Cancer as well. Your story was so beautiful and touching. I cried thinking about my golden when reading it. You said at the end "I rescued him from a shelter but truth be told he rescued me". I will remember that sentiment. That is exactly how my gold made me feel. God Bless.
 
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Grandmaof03 replied to HeartPaws's response:
I am sorry my story made you cry, but I do understand...when I read things about other pets that pass away it usually brings me to tears because I think of my Mikey....

It is a wonderful feeling to know that our pets make such a difference in our lives...They love us unconditionally as we love them the same...

Mikey gave me 12 years of happiness and I hope I gave him the same...He made me a better person...

God Bless
Colleen
 
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Grandmaof03 replied to Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM's response:
Dear Dr. Hohenhaus,

I hope that my Mikey's oncoligist knows how grateful I am for what he did for Mikey...His compassion was something I will never forget.

But the way he talked about treating Mikey, and the way he treated him touched my heart. It must have been a true calling for him to choose to be an oncoligist.

My experience in choosing to treat Mikey's cancer was a positive one in that knowing the oncoligist really wanted to make him feel better...
 
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maxisawesome replied to Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM's response:
please resond your opinion on my post about Max, white schnauzer having trouble breathing, has fluid in lungs, back issue,otherwise xrays and blood work seemed normal, On pain meds and muscle relaxer. Drinking and hydrated but not eating other than when I force feel him prescrp. can food thru syringe. Thanks
 
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sammyhero responded:
My 11 year old lab was diagnosed with bone cancer in November 2010. He just recently started having more trouble walking(the cancer is in his left shoulder). The vet who diagnosed him recommended amputation but our vet didn't think he could handle it because he also has hip troubles. So we decided that due to Sammys age and the cost we would just keep him as comfortable as possible and when the time comes pray that we can make the right decision.
 
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Home2strays replied to sammyhero's response:
I actually did NOT treat my dog for lymphoma due to the poor diagnosis she was given at 14 yrs old. Im a vet tech and I do believe if its a young or middle aged dog, give them a chance with chemo! if they have just the beginning stages or a good prognosis its the best money you could ever spend on unconditional love. I couldnt justify putting my old girl through it but she did live another 2 yrs (euth. this past tuesday 7/12/11) on prednisone cycles.


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