Friday, January 28, 2011
My Dog Has Lymphoma
And she doesn't have long to live. Lymphoma means she has cancer in all her lymph nodes.
I had the option of chemotherapy but I can't put her through that. For one thing, it's crazy expensive and I'm still unemployed. More importantly, chemotherapy is terrible. It's very hard on the body. Even if she responds well to the chemo there complications that have to be dealt with because her immune system will be compromised and she'll be sick for a good part of the time. Ugh. No thank you.
Dogs who have lymphoma and who are not treated live for an average of 2 months after diagnosis. As a compromise, I chose the middle treatment of putting her on a steroid, Prednisone, which is supposed to shrink the tumors. It's only supposed to help for 60 days then the cancer comes back with a vengeance but it will be 60 good days where she isn't too sick. As of right now I have about six more good weeks with her. I'm estimating I'll have her for about three more months, maybe four.
Having grown up with pets I've been through these situations before. Also, since I volunteer with the penguins we bump up against these issues every now and then but volunteering allows me to maintain a bit of distance. Because they are essentially wild animals in captivity you are charged with doing what's best for them since you are their caretaker. It's still hard but over the years I've been able to (sort of) steel myself emotionally where the penguins are concerned. My dog is a different story. She's my family, my companion, and my sweetheart. It's going to rough going.
The most difficult part will be the problem of waiting too long. When your pet is really sick and suffering it's your duty to have them put down. Any delay that occurs is just plain selfishness on your part. I have been guilty of waiting too long so I know all about that. You tell yourself just a little bit longer because you can't bear to make that terrible decision. This time I hope to do right by her and make the decision without delay. But it's not going to be easy.
She was adopted from the SPCA when I was still married. My ex told me I should make the decision as to which dog we were going to bring home with us. I looked at lots of dogs. He'd liked her in particular but I wasn't sure. We were told she'd had all her shots and she was spayed. I finally asked how long she'd been at the SPCA and they said three months. I looked at my ex and told him we were taking her home. Three months is a long time for a dog to be at a shelter. She was probably a little less than a year old when we brought her home. She turned out to be housebroken, very smart, neurotic, and overprotective. We adopted another dog as a companion for her and she's now my parents' dog. My parents originally had both dogs but my dad asked me to take her home with me because "she needs you." He was right in that she was very strongly bonded with me. She made the intense transition from living in a good size house in the mountains with a backyard and a companion dog to living in a one bedroom apartment in the middle of San Francisco with just me. She's a good girl.
I've decided when she goes not get another dog. I might change my mind later but having a dog in San Francisco is expensive and difficult. I lucked out with finding my current apartment which allows dogs but most places don't let you have them. I had a dog walker until recently, also very expensive. Maybe I'll get a cat instead. We'll see.