To Chemo or not to Chemo - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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To Chemo or not to Chemo

She's not my German, but my Austrailian. We recently had to rush to an emergency clinic for a bleeding mass on her spleen and had a spenectomy done. Now the results are Hemangiosarcoma.
She got through surgery fine, though her blood was low she didn't drop to the point of needing a transfusion, She only had troubles with arrhythmia that lasted a little longer than normal. She will be 11 years old this year. They did a chest x-ray and looked around at her other organs during surgery, there is no evidence of growths anywhere else yet. Other than arthritis she is back to her happy goofball self.

I am preparing her meals, a high fat and protein diet. Many supplements including Yunnan Baiyao, L-Arginine and L-Glutamine. Raw meats. Not even been quite a week since we started this diet and she is looking years younger, she had just blown coat during surgery and was looking pretty bald. She's glowing with health right now. Her staples are out, her tummy is healed.

Now, We have a huge care credit bill, I have a go fund me page to try to get help. I don't know If we should go through with Chemo, if we can even afford it. I know the ugly truth about this cancer, I know it can not be stopped but as long as she is not feeling it, I want to be selfish and keep her healthy and alive as long as possible. She and I have been through a lot. We have been homeless together and now I'm paying a mortgage. I just don't know if I should try it. I'm afraid it will make her sick. I can call the oncologist but I want to hear from people who have been where I am. I've seen how doctors and vets peddle their pharmaceuticals, I know all about the money. So please, if anyone has any educated advice, I know this is a common ailment of GSDs and I have two of those as well, I'd love any information you all may have.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 11:46 PM
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The late Barker the Younger of the Barker Sisters the first developed hemangio. I did go with chemo. She had no side effects and it gave us probably 6 months more. She would have probably died in 3 months or less without the chemo. It was a case of I would have felt worse if I hadn't tried it. It didn't give the cure that I wanted. It gave her more months of being a happy dog. I would probably do it again.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 11:48 PM
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I'm so sorry about your girl. I lost a 9 year old Italian Greyhound to hemangiosarcoma. Started out with growths on his skin that we had removed (a lot of them), and then it went to his heart.

I've never gone the chemo route with any of my dogs, but I have had a couple of grooming customers that did. Both of them bought a little time with their dogs, but I have to be honest, the dogs seemed pretty sick and miserable. Both owners said that if they were ever faced with that decision again, they would turn down the chemo. I know you don't want to lose your girl, so it's a tough decision.

~ Diane ~

CARLY ......... Ch. Lauremi's No Reservations (AKC GCh pointed, HIC)
SCARLET ..... Lauremi's Almost Wasn't (AKC pointed)
and absent friends... SAGE ~ Lauremi's Whim Z v Jakmar ~ AKC major ptd, HIC ~ 2010-2015
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:01 AM
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My Max had mouth cancer when he was around 12 years old. The vet told us that it was our choice, but that chemo could be horrendously expensive and that, in his experience, it did not often produce very good results. My husband and I talked about it and took a middle course of action. We felt that we couldn't just do nothing, so we opted for Max having a procedure to remove the tumor, but no chemo. The vet told us that it was almost certain that the cancer would come back, but we hoped we were buying him some time. We had to have Max put down when he was almost 14, he was so frail, falling, incontinent of bowl and bladder and very hard for him to move around. As far as we know, it wasn't the cancer, just the ravages of old age. I feel like we made the right decision for Max.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:05 AM
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My GSD had cancer, but not hemangiosarcoma. I went the chemo route. Without chemo he had a life expectancy of 3-6 months, with chemo, 1-2 years.

My GSD was a big boy, and chemo is charged by the pound of the dog and it was extremely expensive overall. There are many different types of chemo, some cheaper, some pricier. Cancer can build up a resistance to chemos, and you may have to use a variety of chemos, even return to ones that you had used before. It is very complicated.

Chemo for dogs is different than what they do for people. For dogs, they do it to extend quality of life, for people the goal is to cure. With that in mind, the amount of chemo used in dogs is far less than what they would give a human, therefore there tends to be far less side effects. My dog, despite a variety of chemos, had no side effects to any of them that impacted the quality of his life except for one bad day.

My dog lived another quality year, lots of love, hikes, food, hugs, swimming, you name it. His last two weeks of life weren't so good as the cancer began to beat him down, the chemo did not work anymore, and I had to let him go.

If I had to do it over and money were no object, I would not hesitate.

I would discuss the costs with your vets, you may find some chemo options very affordable.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all, see, I am considering her age in this. But I really don't think 11 is terribly old for her. I mean, it is, but she's so bright and youthful. And I know from my own experience that a good diet can do wonders. I have too many and I can't afford all the fancy stuff, but they do eat wheat, corn and soy free kibble. Which Hana only nibbles now when she's hungry because she gets a prepared meal. But it's what they have been on for a few years and it's what they all eat. I supplement with raw occasionally.

I've researched and researched supplements and herbs to help slow the growth of cancer. We cut out carbs, except the occasional apple, she loves apples. She gets a sweet potato microwaved occasionally too. Other than that, it's ground beef or turkey, the fatty ones, full of her supplements. (C vitamin, L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, Yunnan Baiyao, parsley, touch of garlic, coconut oil, shiitake mushroom dried crumbled bits, raw egg yolk straight from my own happy chickens.) She takes fish oil pills like a treat. I'll mix some broccoli, carrots and cauliflower in there sometimes. For Breakfast or later as a snack I give her Cottage cheese with frozen blueberries and blueberry kefir. She loves it. Oh, she gets pet tinic once a day. I haven't given it to her every single day though. I don't know why... kinda going with my gut on it.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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She seems to have a couple bumps that I find suspicious that feel like under her skin. Not very big ones, but two of them. She's got a couple old lady warts as well, they checked out normal.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:32 AM
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There's a book called that you simply must order off Amazon or wherever you buy books and get shipped to you ASAP! It's co-written by two vets: a holistic vet and a board-certified oncologist--and they often disagree with each other, but it's designed to show their perspectives and educate carefully and accurately. It is a wonderful resource.

This book isn't just to learn about the cancer itself, and all the treatment options, but also coping techniques for your psyche too-- there were a few "exercises" in there that I was really grateful for, things to do and think about on really bad days. The reading also gave me a feeling of empowerment, so that when we met with the oncologist I knew what to ask and how to interpret the suggestions.

When we had one with hemangio, we were told by the oncologist at the state vet school that surgery and chemo, the median survival time was just 6 months. That's considered a "good" result. Many don't even get that much time--and she was likely to be on the low end because it was already in multiple organs. The disease is so insidious that it may already be in the heart, liver, and lungs once it's in the spleen, even though they can't see it yet. Based on that the oncologist didn't recommend putting her through chemo, but was willing to try if we wanted to (we didn't).

I just pulled out "the book" to look up splenic hemangio survival times: "Even with treatment, one-year survival times for splenic and heart HSA are uncommon--roughly ten percent." With surgery alone, splenic hemangio has a median survival time of 1-3 chemo adds a median of just 3-5 months.

Last edited by Magwart; 06-16-2015 at 12:40 AM.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much, I'm going to look it up now. I'll try to order it wed. when I get paid. Try to. Money is stretched so thin right now.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 06-18-2015, 09:40 AM
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I am so sorry. I was in the same situation with my dog and documented our story, we did both surgery and chemo. He did very well with chemo.
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