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Old 04-04-2012, 05:24 PM
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My Golden was diagnosed with Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma

Our sweet Cygnus was diagnosed with Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma in mid-March. I am tortured by this diagnosis, too much and not enough information, and lousy options. I've been reading articles, books and asking "what would you do" questions to anyone who has/had a dog....and I cry all the time...at work, on walks with Cyg, in the grocery store...I'm a mess.

Cygnus is ten and a half. He's a gentle giant and has had a wonderful life. We've (myself and my husband) been grateful for the trips we've taken with him to oceans, lakes and snow, the walks, the play sessions on the floor and snuggling in bed. He doesn't like dog parks, vet visits, groomers or kennels and we've catered to that with the exception of vet visits. In making a decision about his treatment, I don't want to subject him to a lot of vet appointments, if possible. Cyg is currently happy and eating well but he's not without some older dog health issues. He takes carprofen (generic Rimadyl) for an old, front, right shoulder ligament injury. He lost his right eye last year to glaucoma/uveitis and we've treated him for Golden Retriever uveitis with daily eye drops in both eyes since he was about a year old. The carprofen has proven to be very helpful in keeping him moving and comfortable. We weren't aware of how dependent he is on it until we eliminated it from his routine last month. He couldn't get up from the floor one day and was trembling. He looked like a sick, lethargic, sad dog - not our Cyg. That prompted the visit to the ER and the cancer diagnosis. He's an older dog now with a white muzzle and we know we have to face some hard decisions.

We have options to treat the adenocarcinoma but the outcome is the same - Cyg will succumb to cancer in 6 to 12 to 18 months. If we do nothing (keep him comfortable but not pursue treatment), he has 4-6 months. If we pursue treatment, it involves surgically removing the 3 cm tumor in his anal gland and effected sub lumbar lymph nodes (two incisions) and follow up with 6 rounds of chemo over three + months. We won't know until after the surgery if the tumor has metastasized. If it has, there's a 50% chance the tumor will return within 6 months. If it hasn't metastasized, he'll have an average of 12 months, possibly 16-18 - only if we pursue chemo. I've been told by both his oncologist and the surgeon "the cancer will return". I don't feel like the options have enough benefits and I'd feel terrible if I put Cyg (and my husband) through a lot of medical work. My husband is adamant that he doesn't want Cygnus to be a 'science experiment' and we both want Cygnus' remaining time to be top quality. I'm concerned Cyg will require a cocktail of drugs to manage the cancer and arthritis. We both agree our top priority is giving Cyg quality time even if we have to face the heartbreak sooner than we'd like.

I feel terrible doing nothing. I'll feel terrible putting him through surgery and a lot of vet and oncology visits knowing this is not a cure. I'll feel terrible when we lose him. What is the best option for him??! Are there less aggressive options? I understand some non-steroidal, anti-inflammatories can quiet a tumor. Has anyone had any success with some? Has anyone had experience with this specific cancer and can offer advice? What would you do again or differently? Thanks!
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:31 PM
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I am so sorry that I have no advice... I just want you to know that I'll be thinking of you and your sweet Cyg... It's an impossible situation and only you know best............ I am so so so sorry... I lost my heart dog very suddenly when he was 9... I sympathize... Whatever decision you make, I support you and I will always be here to chat if you decide you need it... Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone you don't know very well..... Sending positive thoughts and strength your way
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:38 PM
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What a tough position to be in, but i think in your heart you already know the answer. So sorry you are having to deal with this.
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:47 PM
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Cygnus

I am so very sorry to hear about Cygnus's diagnosis.
Please come here for support.
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:52 PM
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Sorry i have no advice i wish i had but you must do what you think is best for Cygnus and his quality of life.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:25 PM
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I am so sorry about Cgynus' diagnosis. My husband and I are dealing with the same decisions just a different cancer. Our Emmy (10) was just diagnosed with intramuscular hemangiosarcoma. We have decided to give emmy quality time. Our approach now is holistic supplemental support. We have added curcumin, bilberry(known to slow down the cumulation of cancer cells so hopefully a tumor will grow SLOWLY), the herb dang guy shao yao san and coconut oil. We know this will not cure we are just hoping for a slowing. I hope you many wonderful days with your Cgynus. My thoughts are with you.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:56 PM
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I am so sorry your family is dealing with this cancer. It sounds like your vet is giving you the options to consider. Have you already had a consultation with an oncologist? If not, he/she may be able to answer your questions and give you an assortment of options. I know of one Golden owner with a dog who had the same type of cancer and her oncologist put the dog through radiation treatments (not chemo) and the dog was still alive two years later, doing very well. I am not sure if the cancer had spread or not at the time the tumor was removed. That may be why he didn't undergo chemotherapy for the cancer. He had daily radiation for quite some time and it made him tired during the thick of things, but he recovered his energy and was in remission.

Ask the oncologist which chemo drugs are involved. Some of them don't have the same side effects as they do with humans. Each dog reacts differently too. My Barkley (hemangiosarcoma) tolerated his chemo treatments with doxyrubicin--no side effects at all. An anal sac growth was detected about a week after his hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. He previously had anal sac issues and his vet was always checking his anal sacs and expressing them--and I still remember the look on her face the first time she felt the growth. We obviously couldn't remove the growth because he just had a splenectomy and we were already dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis. We had no choice but to leave it in. She told us the chances of it being cancerous were very high.

I know it's hard, but if you can, try to stay as "normal" and positive as possible in front of him, because he doesn't know he has cancer and will feed off your emotions. I used to reserve time in the shower to cry and get my emotions out, without Barkley knowing about it. He was happy up until the end. I took a LOT of showers during that time.

After Barkley's anal growth was discovered, and after learning about the other golden with a diagnosis of an anal adenocarcinoma, I asked our vet to add a rectal exam to our dog's future wellness check-ups.

I'm saying prayers for your family. HUGS.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:58 PM
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Sounds like you have already made your decision, but just need support. Although, it is easier said, than living it, I would let Cygnus live his life to the fullest with the time he has left. No matter what decision you make you will always be second guessing yourself, there is no right or wrong decision, you just have to think of what is the best you can give him.

Hugs and there are many here that have been in your shoes and will support you either way.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:04 PM
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So sorry that you found us under tragic circumstances. I'm so sorry that you're facing this terrible disease with your Cygnus. Keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers that you have more time that is free of pain.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:30 PM
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My heart breaks for everyone facing these decisions. The firsttime I had to do make it, my Irish Setter, Red, was dianosed with a "spinal infection" and my vet triedall kinds of antibiotics, but he just keep going down hill. Today, 28 years later, my present vet (an myself) believe it was cancer. Ayway, I hung onto him far to long, let him suffer far to much with the he one of the antibiotics would work. He coulnd't get up or walk without being held, would only eat a few bites from my hand. The day came I knew I had to let him go and I swore I would never every let another dog suffer like that

Fastforward almost 13 years later and my next Irish Setter was diangsed with bone cancer rear leg. Our vet gave us our options and our hearts said amputation. But he had already passed his 12th birthday, he had arthritis in hips and shoulders and our minds said no suffering for our elegant old man. Give him the time of hislife for what little time he had left.

and that is what we did. My vet hadfigured withing a week to 10 days we would have to send him to the bridge becuae it was a very, very aggressive cancer. However at the end of the week he was actually getting around better becaue he had developed a bunny hop (he coulnd't bend that knee). I was talking him fishing every day at the bay and he swam, chased crabs andshore birds, loved every minute. He didn't want to get in the car even after 3-4 hours.

Also, he love3d fruits and veggies more than meats, had a sweet tooth you woulnd't believe. We let him hae all the tosses dalad (lettuce and tomatoes andcucumbers), melons, apple, etc that he wanted (he use to steal the tomaotes, green peppers and squash off the vines in my garden). also we let him have all thedoggy no-no food he had never been allowed to have. If we had a banana split for dessert--so did he. If we had apple pie andice cream--so did he. If we hadstrawberry shortcake--so did he.

eachweek I would take him into see my vet 2-3 times a week (he didn't charge tolook him over---he had an elderly female Irirsh at that time) and he would say "I don't understand it. He is actually gaining weight and gettingaroudn better. Wedon't have to do it yet.

I had him exactly 10 weeks to the day following diagnosis and probably could have had him a little olonger. On July 8, 1997, he didn't spend as much time in the water as normla, and spent more time in thesahe of the car. I think Iknew he was going down, but tried to tell myself we had been ther every day for 10 weeks, even in rain, and he was as tired as I was. But the next morning he went to get on sofa and fell and I had to help him up and i could feel the hardness in hisshoulder I had not felttwo days before. I decided to let him goright then.

my sone and dil took him the mile to our vet--i just couldn't doit. And after they left I almost called to tell Rickey I had changed my mind, ssend him back home with Ron and Heather. But I knew that waswrong. They stayed with him and held him and then buried him out near our duck blind where he sulc alwasy hear the shore birds.

I know I did right letting him go. I have regretted I was not with him, but he dearly loved Ron and Heather and they were. He laos loved Rickey our vet. I just coulnd't face losing him. To this day Rickey still talked about the "old red man." He lost his Irirsh girl a year later.

then in May 2008 we found my golden girl KayCee had a mass in her stomach. My vet operated and was surprised she made it thru the surgery. She died in ICU 48 hours later as I held her. I had actaully had them call my vet to come in and send her to the bridge, but she went before he got there.

I am so sorry you are facing this and I know you will do the right thing. I made a mistake with my first Irirsh and swore never to do that gain. And had Boots been 4 or 5 instead of almost 12 1/2, I do think we would have amputated. But his age, his arthritis, it just didn't seem fair to him. each person has to deiced after looking at all sides, which is the best way to go.
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