I took Bubba to an oncologist last month when his cancer returned. I get all head mushy when my own pets are ill, so I like someone smarter and more knowledgeable to tell me what to do next.
I did decide no more surgery for him. So that was a decision, and it wasn’t a hard one to make. He did poorly after his initial surgery last fall and took a month to recover. When his doctor (Dr. Shiu) and I talked about options, that one was off the table. Instead, we tried oral chemo pills, a cutting edge type of drug that should have choked the blood supply off of that piece of crap tumor and sent Bubba into remission. It didn’t work.
Dr. Shiu suggested IV chemo next. Bubba would spend a day at his practice, getting iv fluids and a drug that has the propensity to cause kidney disease and diabetes.
I used to call him my ‘tank’ because nothing phased him, but now he is nervous at doctor’s appointments, and even gets anxious if I draw his blood. Also, the iv procedure will cost a lot of money on top of the lot of money I’ve spent to date, and have to be done every 3 weeks. I pondered last weekend, what decision was the right one to make?
It got me to thinking about how my clients have to make decisions that are difficult regarding their pets care every day. We all love our pets. We all have a budget. Our pets will need both wellness and sickness care in their lives. How do we decide what is the right thing to do? Sometimes it’s a matter of cutting back on other spending. No shopping trips or vacations for me this year. But what if there isn’t any non-discretionary money to begin? My clients like others, are hurting in this economy, there is very little to cut elsewhere.
And what if it’s not about the money but about the decision itself? Should I inject my dog (who I love deeply) with a chemical that could harm his other organs and has a slim chance not of curing him, but just getting more time with me. Who am I doing it for? Him? Or me? When you pick up that sweet puppy for the first time, and he licks your nose and you decide he’s yours for his lifetime, you don’t think about these things.
There is a great book about the history of cancer and how the field of oncology developed. Its called “The Emperor of all Maladies” by Siddhartha Mukherjee. A long book but very well written and makes you realize how not in control we are when it comes to cancer. The decisions we make give us at least a little bit of control in our beloved pets lives.