Kona and I made another trip to Guelph for the surgeon to have a final look and to consult with the oncology team. I expected it would be the decision of chemo drug and whether it would be administered at our vets clinic or the OVC. For this reason we decided it was not crucial for my husband to be at the appointment. What happened next knocked me sideways.
The oncologist I met with was very compassionate and fell in love with Kona’s amber eyes. She said the oncology team was recommending a round of radiation therapy before chemotherapy. I sat there blinking in disbelief and mumbled this was not discussed as part of the treatment plan because it was not shown to be effective in this form of cancer. The team’s reasoning was that because the cancer had returned in the same location, which is apparently rare, it had to be considered aggressive and therefore treated aggressively. The aim was to reduce another recurrence in the same area as there was very little tissue left to perform a future surgery. Their recommendation was 4 sessions performed once a week at the OVC.
For each session Kona would have to be sedated while the treatment was administered. Common side effects were a skin rash similar to sunburn, nausea, vomiting, in addition to the normal risks with sedation. In my head I thought of the whimpering in the car that would be the soundtrack for each trip! We would need to start treatment the following week in order to get the sessions completed by the Christmas break. I scheduled in an appt for the following Monday and said we would think about it.
We had less than a week to make a decision. Neither the oncologist or our vet could provide any statistical data which confirmed this treatment would reduce recurrence by X% and increase life span by Y%. Our vet said it comes down to making a decision we as pet parents would not second guess in the future.
I spoke with close friends who are also dog owners of my dilemma;
Do I put a 9 year old dog that’s been through so much in a year through a very difficult procedure that may deliver the same outcome as not doing it?
All were supportive and felt that without tangible benefits the compassionate act was to stick to the original plan of surgery + chemo. My husband was not in favour of putting Kona through radiation, he wanted whatever time was left to be enjoyable for all of us.
The entire weekend I sobbed at night and got no sleep, it was obvious my head and heart were deadlocked. On the Monday, 3 hours prior to the appt I got down and lay with Kona in his bed and said ‘please forgive me’…then cancelled the appointment. I knew I didn’t have the emotional gas to go through the ordeal even if it might help assuage some guilt in the future.