The following postings are copies of an email diary of Devo's fight with cancer. I sent these to friends and family to keep them up to speed on his condition. After labor day it was a matter of giving him supplements to boost his immune system, keeping him hydrated and well fed, and of course cherishing every borrowed minute we could have. I didn't belabor the fact with family and friends that he was dying and his prognoses was grim, so I didn't send any emails during September and October. At the end of these pages, I would also like to acknowledge all the people, professional and otherwise who helped make his last 3 months as special and pain free as possible.
The quoted excerpt below was part of an email I sent at the end of August. At that time, we were 90% sure it was cancer. Keep in mind that a tumor was never found. I struggled to put together in my own mind how I could help Devo deal with his sickness for the last weeks of his life.
The single best source of information about canine cancer can be found here:
Land of pure Gold - Cancer and Goldens
While searching the web, I found the following article about cancer management in companion animals which really helped me understand what to do the last two months of his life.
“Maintaining the highest quality of life for the longest period of time is always the goal of cancer management in companion animals. This goal must be considered within the context of emotional and financial factors. Decisions are often difficult. The best service that can be provided is a knowledgeable, unbiased assessment of the condition and a frank discussion of options sufficient to permit an informed decision. This may involve consultation or referral to a specialist or a comprehensive cancer center. Curative therapy is designed to attempt permanent control of the tumor using aggressive but not excessively debilitating treatments. The decision to pursue curative treatment can be difficult. A working definition of curative therapy often used in veterinary medicine is the likelihood that a given tumor type will be controlled for at least 1 year following treatment. If the best available information suggests this is not possible, palliative therapy may be considered. ”Palliative therapy” (medical or comfort care that reduces the severity of a disease or slows its progress rather than providing a cure) is designed to reduce pain or functional difficulties such as swallowing, urinating or defecating without attempting to cure the tumor. The length of time is not as important as the quality of the time remaining for the pet. The hospital time and side-effects must be minimal for palliative therapy. Pets with cancer may also require supportive therapy such as antibiotics, medications to control some symptoms, blood transfusions and nutritional management.”