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Advanced Stage Gastric Cancer
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Advanced Stage Gastric Cancer

After being hit with the news that my beloved pitbull/lab mix Piggy has cancer cells present in fluid that had accumulated in her chest, I was referred to a veterinary oncologist who performed an abdominal ultrasound and chest tap for her. The oncologist informed us that she had located a rather large tumor in her stomach and the fact that Piggy's chest is filled with fluid is a sign that the cancer has metastasized.

The oncologist also added that with chemotherapy (50% success rate in this form of cancer) we can have up to an additional four months with her. Without treatment, she could last up to a few weeks. This news was absolutely devastating for us and we could not make an immediate decision knowing the negative side effects dogs endure during chemotherapy. The oncologist proceeded to remove 1.5 liters of fluid from Piggy's chest cavity and prescribed her four medications: Prednisone (anti-inflammatory + appetite stimulant), Carafate (to soothe stomach lining), Tramadol (for pain) and Mirtazapine (appetite stimulant + anti-nausea).

Piggy has already lost a drastic amount of weight, refused basically all food except small amounts of spoon fed boiled chicken and sleeps 85% of the day. I have been so stressed trying to get her to take her medication. Last week she seemed fine, and now she's bed ridden and extremely sick. We found out so late and the news hit us so fast and we feel that we don't have much time with her left. We are still in shock. I probably won't go forward with the chemotherapy because it seems ineffective for her form of cancer, even the oncologist advised us that Piggy is a stage four.

Has anyone dealt with canine gastric cancer before? During what stage did you find out and how much time did you have with your dog before you had to say good bye? Thank you all for your responses.
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675347_tn?1365464245
Oh I am so sorry this is the result. It is very difficult for you, I do know. I feel in my heart-of-hearts very much in tune with your decision however, not to put Piggy through the chemo treatments. Especially as it may only alleviate her cancer slightly and for a short time, as she is stage four. It doesn't quite seem right to put her through tough treatment for an extra few weeks, does it?

No I don't have experience of gastric cancer with any dog I've had, but I do have experience of being it with a stage four cancer diagnosis with my last dog (who had prostate cancer) It seemed one minute he was fine, and the next, sick, and in two weeks seriously ill with little time left. And it does seem to me it is often that way with dogs. They don't show symptoms very much until their bodies are becoming overpowered.
In my circumstance, from the time of diagnosis (which was a couple of days after he showed symptoms for the first time) to his passing away (the night I had him put to sleep) was two weeks.
But strangely, those two weeks felt like a whole space of time, it was as if time didn't even matter. It was, I suppose, a different state of mind I entered. We had a lovely time, punctuated with nudges from reality, when I sought palliative treatment of one kind or another which definitely helped him. I called it at the end because he couldnt pee. Medications didn't work. Catheterizing him was the only option (which the vet did once to relieve his symptoms that final night) I knew he couldn't live like that, and made the final decision at 2 am. And called out the (very sweet kind lady vet), and he fell asleep in my arms by the log fire.
In those last two weeks, we went beyond living one day at a time, we lived right inside every single moment. And the short time had a feeling of being very sacred in some way, and quite stretched-out. Hard to put that state of mind into the right words. And at the end, we lived right inside every single second.
I didn't say goodbye to him until the very last moment. Up to then -we lived.

I really do feel for you. Just love her, live day to day -moment to moment, try not to grieve while she is still alive, still with you (I know that's hard to do) let her feel you are and always will be, her rock and protector, let her feel your love and your gentleness.

If it's hard to get the medications down because Piggy won't eat, crush the tablets to a powder, mix with honey and water, and syringe them down. At least if medication takes effect, she may very well start eating something of her own accord.
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675347_tn?1365464245
Oh I am so sorry this is the result. It is very difficult for you, I do know. I feel in my heart-of-hearts very much in tune with your decision however, not to put Piggy through the chemo treatments. Especially as it may only alleviate her cancer slightly and for a short time, as she is stage four. It doesn't quite seem right to put her through tough treatment for an extra few weeks, does it?

No I don't have experience of gastric cancer with any dog I've had, but I do have experience of being it with a stage four cancer diagnosis with my last dog (who had prostate cancer) It seemed one minute he was fine, and the next, sick, and in two weeks seriously ill with little time left. And it does seem to me it is often that way with dogs. They don't show symptoms very much until their bodies are becoming overpowered.
In my circumstance, from the time of diagnosis (which was a couple of days after he showed symptoms for the first time) to his passing away (the night I had him put to sleep) was two weeks.
But strangely, those two weeks felt like a whole space of time, it was as if time didn't even matter. It was, I suppose, a different state of mind I entered. We had a lovely time, punctuated with nudges from reality, when I sought palliative treatment of one kind or another which definitely helped him. I called it at the end because he couldnt pee. Medications didn't work. Catheterizing him was the only option (which the vet did once to relieve his symptoms that final night) I knew he couldn't live like that, and made the final decision at 2 am. And called out the (very sweet kind lady vet), and he fell asleep in my arms by the log fire.
In those last two weeks, we went beyond living one day at a time, we lived right inside every single moment. And the short time had a feeling of being very sacred in some way, and quite stretched-out. Hard to put that state of mind into the right words. And at the end, we lived right inside every single second.
I didn't say goodbye to him until the very last moment. Up to then -we lived.

I really do feel for you. Just love her, live day to day -moment to moment, try not to grieve while she is still alive, still with you (I know that's hard to do) let her feel you are and always will be, her rock and protector, let her feel your love and your gentleness.

If it's hard to get the medications down because Piggy won't eat, crush the tablets to a powder, mix with honey and water, and syringe them down. At least if medication takes effect, she may very well start eating something of her own accord.
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Avatar_m_tn
ginger899, that was so beautifully written and helps immensely. It is definitely the most heart felt response I have ever received on a forum and I will think of your words often.

Today, Piggy has regained a bit of her appetite back and has feasted on three chicken breasts, a can of her favorite dog food and a few jerky treats- she even willingly licked up the multivitamin filled syringe. This is progress and I believe her increased appetite with contribute to more time.  

Your outlook on the situation with your last dog is very inspiring. It has reminded me not to spend our last moments angry and regretful but to spend them filled with exclusive love and appreciation. I'm going to make every second, day, moment count with her. Thank you so much for your advice, ginger!
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675347_tn?1365464245
I am so glad she's eaten something because of course that will give her some strength.

Cancer usually is a very "up and down" disease. There will be days when she will seem very much her old self, she'll make you smile, she'll bark at something, she'll beg for food, maybe play with her toys. And there will be days when she'll be delicate, may not want to do much, may not want to eat, or may vomit. And just when you think "is this the end?"....that day will be followed by a sunny day when things seem much better.  Just ride out the rollercoaster, let Piggy lead the way about what she wants to do. If she has appetite one day and not the next, that's partly to be expected.

She will let you know when she's had enough.
God bless her, and you.
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