Remember on June 6, after I’d taken Flash to the emergency pet hospital? I got a phone call from the vet in charge to tell me that Flash had a liver tumor, in addition to gallbladder problems and pancreatitis. I sat in my comfy white leather chair and cried all day. All flipping day.
I think part of it was shock. A liver tumor?
Fast forward to my appointment with Dr. H, the surgeon, and him mentioning hemangiosarcoma. I’d already come across this little darling. It is the scourge of tumors. It is, quite possibly, the very worst thing that could happen to a dog. It’s a malignant cancer that’s sneaky and deadly, producing tumors all over the body that are fragile and can rupture at any time. Your pet dies of internal bleeding. And the damn thing spreads like wildfire.
My darling Flash has hemangiosarcoma.
Dr. H called today with the news. If I’d known it was him, I wouldn’t have answered the phone. He said that he’d never had any right side liver tumors that turned out to be hemangiosarcomas, nor any primary tumors. Well, I could have told him that Flash has always been a Wonder Pooch.
He wants me to see the oncologist. They called and I made an appointment for July 17th, the first time I can get in. That means we can stretch Flash’s life from three months to five. Big whoop. And the quality of that life? Well, that’s the problem.
My dog is dying of the worst tumor he can have. Even more bad news – the margins of the tumor that Dr. H. thought he’d completely excised – were filled with hemangiosarcoma cells. That means the flipping thing is spreading as we speak. It’s a damn fast tumor system. One of the first places it goes are the lungs. Oh, and the brain.
If the dog doesn’t bleed to death, first.
Dr. H wanted me to know how much he appreciated – and his staff appreciated – me. He said that this was a very emotional time, but that I’ve been handling this situation with grace. I don’t feel all that graceful. I’m really not handling this at all well tonight.
I have made a preliminary decision not to put Flash through chemo. I’ll talk to Dr. S., Flash’s normal vet. He’ll consult with the oncologist. I’ll meet with the oncologist, just to get all the facts. But there’s one thing no one can change. There is no hope with this disease. None. It’s like hitting a wall a thousand feet high, deep, and wide. There’s nowhere else to go.
My decision now is not what procedure to do, but what day Flash dies.
And that’s not a decision a pet parent, an owner, a guardian, anyone should have to make, but we’ve all had to do it. We’ve all prayed for grace and courage and strength, knowing that we were going to be turned inside out and feel like we’ve been flayed alive for years.
There are times when you have to accept that yes, while there is life, there’s hope, but that you also have an obligation, a duty – a sacred duty – to spare your beloved pet any further pain. I do not want to have to carry Flash into the vet’s office with him bleeding to death and say, “I guess it’s time.” Nope. He will leave me when he’s still feeling good, before the side effects of the tumors have affected him. Before he is begging me to die.
And that’s all I can say about the whole thing right now. I’ve got to go give Flash his pain pills and maybe some more chicken. I’ll tell him he’s the greatest dog in the world and that I love him bunches. I may tell him how sorry I am, too.