There are three main types of cancer. Carcinoma (begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs), sarcoma (begins in the connective or supportive tissues such as bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, or blood vessels), leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells).
Hemangiosarcoma. Unfortunately, I am intimately acquainted with this ugly, aggressive, non-discriminating, awful blood cancer. It took my precious pups Schatz and Scout more than two decades apart.
Schatz’s cancer showed itself when she collapsed on a sunny, hot Sunday afternoon in late June 1999. Upon examination by our vet and then an ultrasound, a large tumor was found on her spleen. Surgery, exams, blood transfusions, hospital stays and more surgery. Schatz was in the hospital more than she was at home. We had no idea what we were dealing with and, more tragically, didn’t know how to treat it. We never got to say goodbye because she passed on the operating room table. In just three short weeks, she was gone.
My husband and I mourned more for her than we had mourned for friends who had passed away. At that moment, we both realized how much these furry souls meant to us.
Scout’s cancer was stealthy. He always had a voracious appetite but just after his birthday in June 2021, he began being very picky about his food. For Scout not to eat his raw food was troubling. And it got worse. The shit literally hit the fan on a very sunny Saturday morning in August. I left the house to run morning errands. When I returned no more than 90 minutes later, there was bloody poop and vomit on every floor and in every room of our house. From the basement to the upper floor, it was everywhere.
Emergency vet visits, multiple vets, numerous tests and bloodwork, ultrasounds and pleading with the vet finally showed Scout, and Ziva, had Leptospirosis. After forcing the vet to run tests for Lepto and being insistent Scout have IV doxycycline treatment for Lepto, he wasn’t getting any better. His liver enzymes were sky high and climbing. He was hungry but wouldn’t eat. The food he would eat for one meal, he would turn his nose up to at the next meal. Diarrhea persisted. Taking care of Scout was a full-time job. And I was scared. He was losing weight and wasn’t eating.
An ultrasound at a specialist facility showed a large tumor on Scout’s liver. The Lepto was a red herring. The tumor was pushing on his spine, stomach, and liver. That’s why he wouldn’t eat. And, also why the diarrhea never went away. My heart was breaking.
I located a holistic vet who agreed to treat Scout. We were ready to dive into a course of treatment, but she wanted to get another ultrasound of his abdomen and lungs just to be certain the treatment would be the best we could give him.
When she put the images on the screen, my heart shattered into a million pieces. The vet looked at me and with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and told me the horrible news.
Not just any cancer. Hemangiosarcoma.
The cancerous tumor had grown quickly. The cancer was everywhere. On his lungs. In his liver. In his stomach. She advised I should let him go right then and there. I just couldn’t speak. Only tears. No words, just tears.
I took him home. Scout and I fought the cancer for just about three, maybe four weeks. He became weaker but was still fighting. I fed him a special slurry I made of broth, goat milk and a wet, urgent care nutritional food with a syringe. I gave him subcutaneous fluids at home to keep him from being dehydrated. I learned how to give intramuscular injections of Vitamin B12.
We fought the cancer until he just couldn’t. His body was tired. He was losing weight and his zest for life just wasn’t there.
Making those final arrangements broke my heart.
Laying in my lap underneath our favorite blanket on a sunny, cold Thursday afternoon in October, in our living room, stroking his soft ears and telling him he was such a good boy and how much I loved him, I let him go.
Letting my beautiful boy go was more than my heart could stand. He loved me to the final beat of his heart. I miss him so.
It robs us of time with our precious ones. It robs us of so much love.