It’s been not quite a year since I wrote my original post “Fighting K9 Cancer Through Healthy Living”, outlining some of the things we planned to do to hopefully stop Sheba’s spindle cell sarcoma from returning, or to at least slow it down.
We’ll never really know if what we did helped or not. The cancer was most likely not completely removed so was bound to come back anyway. This type of cancer is difficult to remove completely because it sends out little tendrils of cancer everywhere. That was why the second surgery was more extensive than the first. With the second round, which came about 10 months after the first, we found out it was a Grade III type of this cancer which is the worst and it was the most likely to come back regardless of what we did.
First of all, I want to report that right now Sheba is doing very well. She feels great; she’s eating and playing normally. My highest hope for her is that she will be with us through the summer. I still have a few things on her bucket list to accomplish (though because of our impending move we probably won’t get them all). But #1 on that list is getting a pond put in at our new house, and I want her to swim in that pond.
Now as we’ve gone into this second round of fighting, with The Dog Cancer Survival Guide as our main reference, again we’ll never really know for sure if what we’re doing is helping (but we do know that it is not hurting and that it’s making her happy). The cancer is going to come back, it’s just a matter of how much time. It’s not likely to be the 10 months we got before. She already has some lumps and bumps in that area, but some may be scar tissue. She also has some in other places as well, some of those had already been checked so we know they were nothing worrisome.
We opted not to do the radiation which was the only conventional treatment option for this type of cancer. Of course, we had doubts about that decision and that’s where the book helped me. It outlined exactly what the radiation treatments would entail (and confirmed what our own vet told us after looking into it). For this cancer it would mean five treatments per week for one month, each requiring anesthesia. In our case, because there are no canine oncologists near us, it would actually mean leaving Sheba at the treatment center for the full week each time. That’s bad enough, never mind the expense (not that that we would let that stop us) and possible side effects; and the fact that it is not a cure but will only potentially extend her life. I feel much better about our decision knowing all that.
We are also not going to have every lump we find checked out at this point. Sheba will be going for another x-ray of her lungs in about a month, to check if the cancer has metastasized there, and if those are still clear (the original x-ray did show one small spot), we may re-consider that. Our vet has also told us that subsequent lumps can be removed surgically, even if in the same area as the two original surgeries. Again, that is something we will consider when the time comes. We’re just not sure how many surgeries we want to put her through, when what we want the most is for her to be enjoying life. Right now none of the bumps we have found seem to be growing significantly, which was the case before her other surgeries.
With conventional cancer treatments off the table, we have opted for some healthy living choices in these categories:
- Natural Supplements
I’ll be sharing more about each of these things in subsequent posts. I will also try to share about things we have opted not to try and why. The diet changes are the most involved and will probably require more than one post.
Our main goal here is to keep Sheba happy and feeling good, so we’ve opted for things that have very little potential for side effects of any kind, even if it’s just an upset stomach. We are doing this on our own – our vet does not advise on all natural treatments, other than to say we should be cautious with adding new things and do it one at a time, which is what we have done. Some of the things we were already doing anyway.
It’s tough to make some of these choices. Our dogs can’t tell us what they would like so we have to do our best as humans to try to figure out what that might be. I know there are others that might do more, and others that might do less. I don’t think those decisions are wrong for anyone; I think everyone should do what they feel is best for their pet. My hope in writing this series is that maybe someone might learn even one thing that will help them with their own dog with cancer, or just to learn a little bit about what lifestyle changes might be helpful for even healthy dogs.
My final post in the series will be ways to try to prevent cancer. Almost everything we are doing for Sheba we are doing for Cricket and Luke as well, and will continue to do after Sheba is gone. We’ve had enough cancer in our lives and my hope is that a healthy lifestyle will help all of our pets as well; even though we all know that cancer is insidious and may rear its ugly head in any one of our lives no matter what we do.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and the things we are trying here are our own choice to try, after doing my own research. You should consult your own vet when making any significant changes to your dogs’ diet or lifestyle.