Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that Caleb, my German Shepherd cross, has been having some medical problems lately & his blood tests are showing a high level of red blood cells. Yesterday, Caleb had an ultrasound & a chest x-ray to look for tumours. His ultrasound was clear with no tumours visible, but his chest x-ray showed that he has a small heart which has to do with his low blood volume. At that point the vet tested him for Addison’s Disease which may have explained his symptoms, but that test came back negative.
Unfortunately, this negative blood test means that Caleb has cancer and the vet believes it is one of two kinds; either kidney cancer or a bone marrow cancer. At this time, the vet believes it is bone marrow cancer but we need to rule out the kidney cancer by doing a very expensive & complicated blood test.
If it is bone marrow cancer, which I feel it probably is, then Caleb will be on a chemotherapy drug for the rest of his life. The specialist that my vet has consulted with seems optimistic about Caleb’s prognosis & it is possible that Caleb could have as long as 3 more years with us. However, cancer is unpredictable and the chemo drug could have some nasty side effects, so we have some tough decisions to make.
Do we decide that because it is cancer – either kidney or bone marrow and that Caleb’s life is limited that we stop running expensive tests and let him enjoy his life as long as possible or do we embrace the world of medical science and give him a shot at another couple of years?
If I knew the chemo wouldn’t affect him badly, I would give him that shot, but I don’t want his last months or years to be enduring side effects of the chemo. I’m wondering if it is more humane to let him enjoy life side effect free & when he becomes ill to put him to sleep.
Then again, he might respond really well to the chemo with no side effects & is it fair to rob him of months or even years of relatively good health?
Also as much as I don’t want to admit it, there is the cost factor and at some point, that has to become an issue. Can we afford an expensive drug for a long period of time?
Caleb has been with us for 7 years and our beagle Rory is truly devoted to him. His death is going to hit us all hard when it comes. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to face these decisions for quite a few years. Now it is staring me in the face, I’m devastated.