Hitting the Snooze Button: Day 55

On day 55 since cancer diagnosis, reality is hard.  News yesterday from the canine Oncologist is straightforward and certain.

No matter what treatment you choose for Bandicoot, you’ll just be hitting the snooze button“, she said.

Dr. Karri Meleo at Animal Care Specialists in Seattle was very kind, yet thorough, when explaining the four possible options for Bandicoot.  “There is no way she will be cured“, she said.  “But we can increase her comfortable level.

For one hour, Dr. Meleo wrote everything down on a white board so I could more easily digest what she was saying.

The options presented are as follows:
1. Radiation of the knee with/without radiating the affected sub-lumbar lymph node.
3 treatments would be given in a six-week period, 2 weeks apart.
She’d have a 75% chance of increased comfort.  “If she has treatment on Wednesday, by Friday you’d see a big difference in how she felt.  She’d be using the leg again“, she said.
Side effects: Red, irritated skin for 2-3 weeks.  If the lymph node was radiated, then colitis would be added to the mix, which would include diarrhea and urgency.  “If she fell into the 25% where radiation of the knee was not helpful, then her inability to get out the door fast enough to go potty could be quite messy.”  And she added, “Then you’d have a dignity issue.  For Aussies. that’s a BIG deal.
Cost: Knee: $1600-$1800  Knee and node: $2100-$2300

2. Chemotherapy using Doxorubicin, a cross-over drug for either kind of Sarcoma she has.
Administered IV every 3 weeks for a total of 5 treatments.
She’d have a 25-30% chance that the tumor in the knee, and the two lymph node cancers would shrink.  But there’s another shoe waiting to drop.  Bandi has developed a lump on her face.  “I’ve never seen a tumor on the face that was benign“, Dr. Meleo said. “I don’t know if this treatment would even help that tumor, since it could be a histiocytic sarcoma or a mast cell tumor.”
Side effects: Vomiting/Diarrhea.  Big problems—-dehydration and infection.  These would require hospitalization.
Cost: I didn’t even ask

3. An investigative study for a new cancer treatment being tested.
Bandi would have to meet certain criteria for acceptance into the study.
The affected lymph node in the groin would be injected with a modified bacteria that would induce an inflammatory response. It could be a cure, or it would mean certain death.
Side effects: If Bandi’s body rejected the treatment, every organ in her body would become inflamed, and it would require emergency euthanasia.
Cost: Free, if Bandi met the criteria for the study

4.Surgery to amputate the leg, and the two lymph nodes
Would need a CT Scan of abdomen.  Based on those results, if the cancer is a Synovial Cell Sarcoma, Bandi would have a 50% chance of surviving a year.  If the cancer is a histiocytic sarcoma, then the chance would be 25% for surviving a year.
Side effects: No more pain in the leg or lymph nodes!  Bandi would feel great after a month of recovery.  Her average survival rate would be 6-8 months.
Cost: $5000

Since none of these options are affordable based on the expected outcome, we have decided to keep Bandi comfortable, and enjoy her company as much as we can without causing more pain, stress or discomfort in her short life.

  • We will increase the Prednisone again to prevent her leg from swelling.
  • We will double the dose of Tramadol for pain
  • We will giver her an antibiotic if she develops colitis again.
  • We will wait for her to tell us when she’s ready to go.

Therefore, instead of hitting the snooze button, we will be anticipating the day when Bandi lets us know that her time on earth should end.

 Dr. Meleo said, “The most peaceful death is when the body is ready to die at the same time the spirit is ready to die.  Bandi’s body is just about ready, and letting her go now would not be wrong.  But if you want to wait until her spirit is ready, then she’ll let you know“.

A very powerful statement.  I just hope that my spirit will be ready when Bandi is

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