I have never really asked myself this question, I never really had the need to…then we found the tumor. But to be honest, even while going through all of the steps, all of the doctors, all of the treatment, I still never asked myself that question.
As I wrote in the previous post, at the end of November, I had Argus’ lump biopsied. When I got the results, they were inconclusive; the doctors were not sure exactly what it was. The vet then sent us to see an oncologist. Right away the oncologist believed it was a soft tissue sarcoma. Although she said she was not positive, she seemed pretty sure, so I believed her.
She recommended a CT scan, I still never asked myself the question. The vet needed to make sure there were no tumor cells throughout his body. Apparently, this type of tumor likes to spread to the lungs and the lymph nodes. I got the first bit of good news after the CT scan, there were no tumors anywhere else!
The CT scans allowed the surgeon to decide if he would be able to remove it; next piece of good news…he said the tumor was actually in a good position and thought he would be able to remove it all. I still never asked myself the question.
In December he had surgery to remove the tumor; that was a very long day. At around 3:30 pm, the surgeon called and let me know he thought he removed the entire tumor with good margins so it wouldn’t come back! He only had to take a small portion of the abdominal wall too.
So, the results…the tumor ended up being the size of a football and turned out to be a peripheral nerve sheath tumor. This type of tumor springs from the peripheral nervous system; it extends from outside the central nervous system. Bottom line, it was a very large, malignant tumor originating from the nervous system. These types of tumors are mostly found in older dogs (although I don’t really know how old Argus is, he is between 7-9).
There is no known cause for peripheral nerve sheath tumors, but it is possible they develop from a former injury; because Argus is a rescue, I have no knowledge of any possible injury from his earlier days. Most of these tumors come back and the average survival time for dogs with malignant peripheral sheath tumors is two years.
So, his tumor was gone and I knew what type of cancer he had…now what? We had to go back to the oncologist to decide on what next. She recommended a low dose of chemo; since the tumor was so large and the surgeon had to take a lot of skin from Argus’ stomach, if the tumor grew back there would be no way to remove it again. I still didn’t ask the question.
After a long time of healing from the surgery, there were some complications with his staples, he has started the chemo and should only be on it for six months. He is doing amazing; acting like a puppy! His original vet who recently saw him for some blood work said he looks amazing and happy!
Although I have totaled up how much this has cost me so far, I have absolutely no regrets about that number and I would do it all again if I needed to.
When people hear this story they usually comment that they would not have done the same thing, they would not have spent that much money. But I don’t think you can know what you would do until you are put in that situation. I never asked the question because Argus is part of my family and, in my opinion, he deserves every chance possible to live a happy, healthy, life!
My hope is that nobody ever has to ask themselves that question, but chances are that many people will have to. Just know that everyone, every dog, and every situation is different.If you do ask yourself this question, it is ok...no matter what the answer is!
But most of all…pet your pup even if he doesn’t want you to!