I’m going to give you the CliffsNote version of the what the oncologist said because quite frankly there is still so much we don’t know. Keep in mind that Jake’s cancer(s) were seen via MRI when looking at his spine so we still need to take a look at them in other ways.
We have to get a CT scan of his entire body to look more closely at everything and most importantly, to look for metastasis. If there is metastasis, Jake’s time with me will be very short.
There are some things that we can confirm. Jake has at least one cancer, the one in his thigh. A nerve sheath tumor that arose from the end of his spine, where his spinal nerves are. That one seems pretty advanced. He may or may not have kidney cancer, that tumor needs a closer look. There is a mass, on his kidney, but the confusing part about that one is that if it is kidney cancer, he should probably be gone already.
This is the part I should mention the somewhat debilitating dejavu that I have faced over the past two weeks. I guess it’s not dejavu if you actually know for certain you have lived it before.
- The week before I found out about Melvin’s cancer, I bought a necklace with his and Jake’s name on it. Two weeks ago I bought a ‘m&J’ necklace.
- A few days after Melvin’s diagnosis, we had a snowstorm, ditto for Jake.
- At Melvin’s oncologist appointment, we also scheduled a CT scan with them saying ‘if it is this type of cancer, and his tumor is 9 cm, we’d expect him to be gone by now’. Verbatim words spoken today about Jake (although a different cancer).
And now you see why I am full of hope and despair equally, 24/7. They are two peas, one pod. It’s crazy.
If Jake’s cancer has not spread we will opt for a 3 day intensive radiation approach over a 15 day radiation option, mostly because both require anesthesia and 15 days straight of anesthesia on a brachycephalic dog is not ideal. The 15 day is the suggested protocol and even though the three day is less tested, it has shown to be ‘equally as good’ on cancers similar to Jake’s.
If there is no metastasis, and we do radiation, we could be looking at anywhere from 3-6 months, maybe a little more depending on what the CT scan shows in terms of the cancer(s). So much depends on the CT scan which is scheduled for next Wednesday.
There were two surgical ‘ideas’ thrown out but I’m not sure they are actually options just yet. One, if the kidney tumor is indeed kidney cancer, we could opt to remove his kidney and the tumor to buy him some time. This is one of those ‘what is the recovery time like versus how much time does it buy’ decisions. The other idea is to possibly remove Jake’s hind leg. To truly remove that cancer, they’d likely have to take the end portion of his spine, and 1. that might not even be a real option and 2. that is a quality of life decision we’d all have to consider for a dog with Jake’s issues. That would completely take away his hind leg mobility, maybe more. I’d have to give soul searching thought to how much time that buys versus what that would do to the joy. And again, the surgeon might say no to that being an option altogether.
So, we wait. Wednesday is a week away, that’s a lot of love and snuggles and vodka. There will (hopefully) be decisions to make next week and all of them, will focus on what gives Jake the greatest opportunity for joy over the next few weeks and months.
And lastly, I am hanging in there. It does not appear he will be with me as long as I’d hoped, but today is no different than two weeks ago. We are living the best life we can, together. And I’m grateful for any time I’m given with him, because he (and his brother) are my joy.
PS. the oncologist and I discussed having two dogs diagnosed with cancer in less than a year and she helped me rule out environmental causes, so that gave me some peace.
PSS. Jake has NEVER been to the vet, any vet, new or old and not produced meatballs. He is nothing if not fully committed to the factory.
“Why do I not see you preparing my breakfast? What is up with skipping meals lately?”
“We better be heading to a drive-thru, woman!”
This is the look of a dog with a prey drive who has just seen a dog with the nerve to walk past our car in the parking lot. This is why Jake is strapped in.