The statistics are shocking! Canine Cancer affects one out of every three dogs, and accounts for approximately 50% of deaths each year. The good news is that similarly to humans, Canine cancer can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.
November is pet cancer awareness month (for more info, go to the PCA website http://www.petcancerawareness.org/home.aspx). Ironically enough, November is the same month my parents were given the news that their 10 yr old yellow lab, Denver has tongue cancer. In the mist of the sadness, anger, and heartbreak of dealing with this diagnosis, my mom & dad had a decision to make. Like so many other canine cancer dog owners, they had to weigh the pros and cons of treatment, and ultimately make a very difficult decision. Treat or not to treat?
Denver is a “lively”, a.k.a. mischievous mutt who was lovingly nicknamed Marley throughout his teenage years, earning this title by tearing branches off of trees, using the hose as a very large tug toy, snacking on household accessories, testing the length of a toilet paper roll, and bathing in any mud pit he could sniff out. His favorite venture is breaking out for the occasional “shopping trip” through the neighborhood, looking for open garages. Jackpot! Soccer balls, tennis rackets, rakes, snow shoes, cleats… all fair game.
This behavior has gone on for years, and as frustrating as this may be for mom & dad, they reassure me weekly that he’s just a big, loveable lug of a Lab… seemingly, living in his own world. A family member who deserves to live his years on earth healthy and happy!
So, when Denver went in to have a benign tumor removed from his leg, my parents expected the day procedure to go without a hitch, back in action in no time. You can imagine their shock when the vet put a tube down his throat to start anesthesia only to find a horrific scene on the base of his tongue. Test results confirmed that their boisterous boy has tongue cancer, which will most likely spread quickly. Treatment options are extreme & would put a lot of stress on Denver and my parents. They made the decision to let nature take its course, and provide him with a comfortable and happy environment until he gives them a sign that it’s time for him to go.
Denver, a.k.a. “Marley” is home, back to his old tricks, eating like a pig, full of antics and entertaining the troops. The biggest struggle; coming to terms that this healthy looking, active dog has terminal cancer. Each day a gift.
There are so many stories just like this, so many dog owners dealing with the sadness, worry, heartache of caring for a canine with cancer. Some will find treatments and have happy endings, while others do their best to make good decisions for their dogs only to have to deal with the consequences that follow. To all of these people, our prayers are with you. To all of the dogs struggling with such a horrible disease, we extend our hearts and paws to wish you days filled with love & joy.
To learn more about how you can help bring awareness to canine cancer and contribute to treatment research, go to http://www.wearethecure.org/. Your support is greatly appreciated!