This is a post I was dreading. We found out last week that the radiation therapy suggested to us is not an option and only a palliative version is recommended. A bit of background:
My 10 1/2 yr old golden retriever Mose started panting heavily at night the week of Thanksgiving 2013. It only lasted a few minutes. I would get up, pet him and he would settle down and go back to sleep. After a few nights I decided to take him to the vet. Everything else was completely normal so I was expecting them to tell me it was allergies or something like that. You are all in this group, so you know the heartbreaking, pit in your stomach feeling it was to hear he had a large mass surrounding his heart. We live in a small town in New Mexico so our vet recommended a specialist in Albuquerque.
Because the mass surrounded his heart we first saw a cardiologist who pronounced Mosey’s heart very strong for his age and determined the mass had not spread into the heart…the only good news we have received. We then met with an oncologist who, after x-rays, an ultrasound and a CT scan, determined the mass was cancerous…either an ectopic thyroid carcinoma or chemodectoma. The tumor wraps 360 degrees around the aorta and is compressing the esophagus. There were also 2-3 lung nodules which means there is some metastatic disease. Mosey was put on Palladia to help slow the growth of these tumors.
The specialists in Albuquerque recommended we try radiation therapy at Colorado State University at Ft Collins at the Flint Animal Cancer Center and they forwarded all his records to them. One of the radiation surgeons called me a week later to say he thought Mose was a good candidate for Stereotactic radiosurgery -the Cyberknife, called because the procedure is as precise as a surgical scalpel. He told me to expect 3 treatments, paced a day apart, to ensure we did not damage any of the major organs the tumor surrounds. The procedure would not be inexpensive, but thank God we have insurance, and that hopefully the radiation would shrink the mass and or stop it from growing further. So. with great hope, Mosey and I made the 6 hour drive from Taos to Ft Collins last Monday to begin treatment on Tuesday January 7th 2014.
The Ft Collins staff repeated all of the same tests as were done in Albuquerque less than a month ago. My heart is breaking as I tell you that the results were not good. The mass is bigger than they thought and wraps too tightly around the organs to give him the dose required to do much good. So, our only option is a “palliative” radiation option…one dose designed to help him breathe better and have better quality of his remaining life…which they think is only a month or two. He had the procedure last Thursday.
They recommend he stay on the Palladia.
I had such high hopes and was so optimistic on the drive up…now I am falling apart. I have him on an anti-cancer diet…a holistic vet has prescribed Chinese herbs to help him battle the disease and I am looking for any/all suggestions as to keep him around as long as I can while ensuring his quality of life remains good. And I should tell you that, other than the panting, his energy level and appetite were quite strong until today. He has been very listless, tired and, while he has eaten both his meals, it took him a long time to finish…normally he gobbles up every bite in a short time. They told me he would have good days and bad…today is his first “bad” day.
He is my same loving goofball that he always has been. I am not ready to lose my boy. Any thoughts or recommendations would be so appreciated. What else can I try?
Thank you all so very much.
Diane and Mose