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Old 05-01-2015, 07:55 AM   #1
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Default Looking for advice from other owners who have dealt with cancer/terminal diseases

Back in November, Tink was diagnosed with Insulinoma, which is basically pancreatic cancer that creates low blood sugar. Given the nature of the terrible disease, I chose to treat medically instead of surgically. (Surgery outlook was very vague, with limited results, and recovery is very hard on them.)
Since then besides some tummy issues, things have been going well. Tink is on medications, Prednisone & Palladia (oral chemotherapy), in addition to having to eat every 4 hours (24/7) in order to keep her blood sugar up.
I am just looking for advice from others who have had the misfortune of having their little one diagnosed with a terminal disease.
I am just so happy when she is feeling good, but I find it very very difficult to cope when we have the days that aren't so good. I feel so guilty all of the time, and don't feel like I am doing enough for her. It's to the point where I feel like I should talk to my Dr about a prescription to deal with the stress (anti depressant/anxiety) but then I'm worried it will just make me "numb" to the entire situation. I just want to be in the best frame of mind for my little girl... thanks so much for any advice.
Does anyone else have advice or experience?
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Old 05-01-2015, 09:52 AM   #2
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Aw Hon... I empathize with you. When Chanel was slowly going down with Kidney Disease I felt ALL of those feelings. The last year I was so sleep deprived from getting up with her in the night. But I came to cherish those moments because I knew I wouldn't have many of them left. The bad days gradually outnumbered the good and I began to watch for signs that I might need to make a tough decision. And then each day was started with the question " Will it be today"? I would wake up and watch her for signs of pain, signs of pulling away from us, Loss of appetite etc. And if she woke up and did " Happy rubs and head butts" I would think " Thank God it won't be today"

The day she died she got up and gave me happy rubs, and indicated she had to go. ANd I thought " THank god it won't be today" Again. But She hadn't been eating well. I took her to the vet and he confirmed she didn't look good but also didn't seem to be in any pain and told me to take her home. Shortly after I got home and was snuggling with her. She started breathing harder. I laid down and put her on my chest and that seemed to help. But an hour or so later I noticed her heart rate had slowed down considerably and her little body seemed colder. My heart dropped because I knew then.. "It would be today" and it was actively happening right then.

I wrapped us both up in a heating blanket and stroked her and told her continually how good she was and how much I loved her and it was OK to go. She died in my arms 2 hours later. I didn't know tear ducts could work that hard.


I beat myself up wondering " Maybe if I had had more blood work done" ...."Maybe a different Vet could have done more".... "Maybe I could have fed her a different dog food when she was a puppy" it is amazing the many ways we can find to second guess ourselves and to heap guilt on our loving actions. Ask your vet if there is anything ELSE YOU can possibly do. If you think another vet might be able to offer a second opinion or additional suggestions- get one. Spend some extra time with Tink loving on her, playing with her and just treasuring the time you have with her. The time I devoted to Chanel making sure she knew she was loved and treasured helped me more than anything. And looking back...the only thing I can think of that *might* have made me feel better was had I gotten a second opinion about the treatments we were giving Chanel the last year or so. Not that I Don't trust my vet...but just to have made double sure "There was nothing more I could have done" ... that might have helped. But I am sure I would still think of ways to beat myself up.

Follow your heart and just do the best that you can think of to do for her. You'll know when you have done everything. But most importantly...if it were me, I wouldn't numb myself from being able to enjoy the precious time you do have. Save that for after she is gone.

My heart TRULY breaks for you..but Tink has a Momma who loves her to pieces and she knows you do. She also knows you will do everything you can for her. But there is a limit to what you can do. SO be kind to yourself once you know you have done everything you can... just love her. And seriously...spend more time holding her and snuggling with her. it will help both of you.

Not sure if this is what you were looking for with this post and it is only my opinion. but I have been through a terminal illness with a loved pet and feel your pain so I hope it helps a little.


Big hugs.
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Old 05-01-2015, 10:19 AM   #3
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It sounds to me like you are doing very well to care for your dog. I'm sorry to hear of her illnesses. I don't have any great words of wisdom because each person has a different way they cope with illness and life's end. I have a dog w/ a heart issue and I know that it's a matter of time before he has to say goodbye. I won't let him have bad days, and won't have him die in my arms at home, he will be put to sleep before his quality of life goes downhill. I have owned this dog since he was 8 weeks old and he is almost 15. I am very blessed to still be able to enjoy him and know that he is enjoying his life too. When that changes, I'll say goodbye. I pre-mourned his death similar to what you're going through, and once I realized that it was happening, I felt better. If you need a little relaxation medication from your physician, I see nothing wrong in asking for it. I'll keep you and your pup in my prayers.
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Old 05-01-2015, 10:30 AM   #4
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Thank you so much for your reply, it helps to hear from someone who has went through a similar situation. I'm so sorry about Chanel, she was such a beautiful little girl her pictures are absolutely beautiful.
I am working on getting to the place where I feel "ok" about it. Tink has her local vet, as well as her "specialist" who is an oncologist near St. Louis. Every time her local vet sees her she tells me I am doing a great job with her and managing her feedings and medications - which I still cannot accept, I still feel like I should do more (but really, what could I do?..). I call every 2 weeks to check with her specialist who says she is doing good as well. I talked to her specialist on Wednesday after I took her blood sugar (44, which is lower than it had been) and when I started to voice concern over the low reading, he said, "But the most important part is you have a happy dog". YES. This is what I need to focus on. We are at the point where we have a medication regimen, and it is our long-term plan. I had thought about a second opinion, but it is obvious that from everything I have researched, her vets are correct with everything, and she had multiple blood panels ran which confirmed the insulinoma
One thing I am glad about is that for the past 11 years, she has been by my side. I never went on vacations, or overnight trips because I didn't want to leave her. I spent MANY a new years at home, while all my friends were celebrating, I was ringing in the New Year with Tink So I am glad I don't have to look back and say, "I wish I would have spent more time with her". This is an aspect of being an introvert that has truely paid off. Who better to spend most of my time with than my little nugget?
Thank you so much for your reply. I am looking forward to the weekend, when I don't have to leave and go to work, it's always "Tink's Weekends"
Thank you again, Chanel was so lucky to have you
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Old 05-01-2015, 10:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 107barney View Post
It sounds to me like you are doing very well to care for your dog. I'm sorry to hear of her illnesses. I don't have any great words of wisdom because each person has a different way they cope with illness and life's end. I have a dog w/ a heart issue and I know that it's a matter of time before he has to say goodbye. I won't let him have bad days, and won't have him die in my arms at home, he will be put to sleep before his quality of life goes downhill. I have owned this dog since he was 8 weeks old and he is almost 15. I am very blessed to still be able to enjoy him and know that he is enjoying his life too. When that changes, I'll say goodbye. I pre-mourned his death similar to what you're going through, and once I realized that it was happening, I felt better. If you need a little relaxation medication from your physician, I see nothing wrong in asking for it. I'll keep you and your pup in my prayers.
Thank you. I believe I am on the same side of "not letting her have bad days". Tink is very attached to me, and lets me know when she is not feeling good. I believe that I know her well enough that she would prefer to not have bad days. However, I pray every night that God will not let this happen, and instead she peacefully passes in her sleep. No matter what happens, it will be very hard, but I need to be thankful of all the time, memories, and love we have had together. This little dog got me through so much in life - Thank you for your prayers
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:08 PM   #6
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Aw I am so so sorry to hear you are going through this. Yes, I have been in your shoes a few times, but I lost the little love of my life puppy in January after actually a pretty short term illness...in his case the cure caused his death. I do have a tough time thinking of him and being so angry at myself that I put him through the surgery. I never thought in a million years it would lead to his death. He was 15, so yes I know..I know he was old. My regret is not just managing pain and not having the surgery and the horrid results afterwards Right now, I am in the process of losing my Harry..Georges brother. He will be the last of my little Shih Tzu 3pack. He has cancer as well as early stage congestive heart failure. I have made a decision to let him live his life without medical intervention this time. I will treat his symptoms according to what the vet has put him on, but I will not put him through any surgeries or treatments that will cause him pain or misery or low quality of life. Its the hardest thing to go through. I thought I was going to lose him last week but he's a bit better after being on his new meds. I spoil him like crazy and have vowed to make the end of his life as sweet as possible. Something I read after I lost George broke my heart...for real. It was from someone else who was having her last day with her beloved dog....So, she took her for a hamburger and ice cream sundae before going to the vet. I was upset because I didnt think of giving George a last treat That makes me cry right now. I made Harry a steak the other night, lol. The whole thing, and let him go out on the deck in peace, away from the puppy and he loved it! He gnawed on the bone for a long long time...a little yap at the occasional squirrel or rabbit, then back to the bone. Bless his heart, nothing kills his appetite. So, I guess what I'm suggesting is that you find the thing your little baby loves most and spend time loving her and letting her enjoy those few forbidden treats If I were there I would give you the biggest hug in the world, and probably cry with you..xoxo. Be as strong as you can, and cry as much as you want.
I dont think pills will really do much to make the pain go away. I tried that before and it doesnt even numb the pain, it just postpones it. I guess I would rather feel the pain of losing a beloved then not feel it at all. If that makes any sense. In a weird way, whenever I think of something about George or see a picture of him..I instantly tear up and cry..and then I say hi to him, and I still love you Georgie boy, lol. crazy but I tell myself that he's still there at the bridge just waiting, and he sees and hears me. I loved all the pets I've lost, but he was my little soul mate dog I've bonded to Sunni the same way, so I think even that was Georges doing.
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Old 05-01-2015, 12:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MissSunni View Post
Aw I am so so sorry to hear you are going through this. Yes, I have been in your shoes a few times, but I lost the little love of my life puppy in January after actually a pretty short term illness...in his case the cure caused his death. I do have a tough time thinking of him and being so angry at myself that I put him through the surgery. I never thought in a million years it would lead to his death. He was 15, so yes I know..I know he was old. My regret is not just managing pain and not having the surgery and the horrid results afterwards Right now, I am in the process of losing my Harry..Georges brother. He will be the last of my little Shih Tzu 3pack. He has cancer as well as early stage congestive heart failure. I have made a decision to let him live his life without medical intervention this time. I will treat his symptoms according to what the vet has put him on, but I will not put him through any surgeries or treatments that will cause him pain or misery or low quality of life. Its the hardest thing to go through. I thought I was going to lose him last week but he's a bit better after being on his new meds. I spoil him like crazy and have vowed to make the end of his life as sweet as possible. Something I read after I lost George broke my heart...for real. It was from someone else who was having her last day with her beloved dog....So, she took her for a hamburger and ice cream sundae before going to the vet. I was upset because I didnt think of giving George a last treat That makes me cry right now. I made Harry a steak the other night, lol. The whole thing, and let him go out on the deck in peace, away from the puppy and he loved it! He gnawed on the bone for a long long time...a little yap at the occasional squirrel or rabbit, then back to the bone. Bless his heart, nothing kills his appetite. So, I guess what I'm suggesting is that you find the thing your little baby loves most and spend time loving her and letting her enjoy those few forbidden treats If I were there I would give you the biggest hug in the world, and probably cry with you..xoxo. Be as strong as you can, and cry as much as you want.
I dont think pills will really do much to make the pain go away. I tried that before and it doesnt even numb the pain, it just postpones it. I guess I would rather feel the pain of losing a beloved then not feel it at all. If that makes any sense. In a weird way, whenever I think of something about George or see a picture of him..I instantly tear up and cry..and then I say hi to him, and I still love you Georgie boy, lol. crazy but I tell myself that he's still there at the bridge just waiting, and he sees and hears me. I loved all the pets I've lost, but he was my little soul mate dog I've bonded to Sunni the same way, so I think even that was Georges doing.
I'm so sorry of your loss of George, and what you are going through with Harry. I'm sure you gave so much love to George that he had such a happy, loving life. Don't feel bad about doing surgery for him, because that is usually what is instructed by most vets. You just wanted to give him the best chance.
I'm happy to hear Harry enjoyed his big steak I hope he continues to be a happy little guy. (I LOVE Shih Tzus, they are some of the most lovey little dogs.)
For Tink, she can do no wrong and is allowed to do as she pleases. She has her little quirks, like being obsessed with finding socks to prance around with, or shredding any type of paper she can find. So, the other evening, I sat down with her with a piece of paper, and let her shred it, praising her - "Go Tink, tear it!". Sounds silly, but she loved it.
Thank you for your reply. I'm so thankful that I found this site. No one truly understands, but I come on here, and everyone is on the same page with my obsession with trying to do everything I can for my little girl. I agree, I do not think medication is the answer, I think that my heart and mind need to come to acceptance, and do nothing but focus on little Tink. I need to remember that no matter what happens, she will be the first one to greet me in heaven (probably with a sock in her mouth )
I will keep Harry in my prayers - hope he enjoys more steak
(And I do agree George sent little Sunni to you sending virtual hugs to you and Harry)
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