Beagle Layla's Battle Against Lung Cancer

Beagle Layla's Battle Against Lung Cancer

by Rich
(Ligonier PA)


I'm grateful to have found this website with such great information.

My seven year old Beagle girl Layla is sadly starting her journey to begin the battle with lung cancer.

It all started in March of this year with a cough. I initially thought it might be allergies so waited a little while to see if it just went away. It didn't, so I took her to the vet. They thought initially it may be a respiratory infection and put her on medications. It seemed to improve after that but soon enough her coughing continued, now with her coughing up phlegm.

So, back to the doctor we went. She took x-rays and it showed a grayish area and the doctor initially believed Layla may have pneumonia.

The sad phone call came a few days later that the radiologist believes there is a mass in Layla's lung. My vet recommended taking her to a specialist for a biopsy.

The next day I called my vet to find out why we would have to do a biopsy and not just get in there and remove it and THEN test the tumor. She explained that without knowing what the mass is, they would not put the dog through surgery. She was sadly wrong.

It took a week to get an appointment with the specialist in Pittsburgh and all my hope throughout the week that the mass might be something other than a tumor was shattered rather quickly. It was like running into a steel beam.

The specialist doctor advised doing a biopsy is not a good idea because of the chance for leakage. He recommends surgery to remove the large mass (6cm) and the option for chemotherapy. He kept talking and I just stood there doing everything I could to hold back the tears. He went on and on, CT Scan... abdominal ultrasound... blah blah blah.

I was amazed that within hours after I was home, the specialist doctor sent a full detailed report of our visit. Reading it through tears still, I was better able to understand what is going on.

At that point, I was faced with the decision to put her through the surgery or not. Money is not an issue, it was trying to figure out what is best for Layla. Because of the size of the tumor, they indicate she may at best have 8 months after the surgery. Everything I had read online was confirmed. I was told that we really wouldn't have a clearer picture until after the tumor is removed and they can determine what kind of cancer it is.

I spent that night talking to friends and family, everybody with a different opinion as to what I should do. After thinking everything over, I decided to first go with the CT Scan and abdominal ultrasound though I have already scheduled the surgery for tomorrow. If the CT scan and abdominal ultrasound still suggest surgery is in her best interest, I will proceed with it. The testing is recommended but not required. Even though it adds significant cost to the surgery, I would rather know beforehand exactly what we're dealing with. So, the surgery is coming five days after the initial consult with the specialist.

I'm terrified for tomorrow. I'm realizing that it is all just one little step at a time... first the initial testing, then the surgery if it is still recommended... then the biopsy to determine what kind of cancer... then the decision for Chemotherapy and how that will affect the ultimate outcome of the disease.

Wow, I am still in a state of shock even as I'm writing this. A few months ago I had what appeared to be a healthy energetic Beagle and now I have a lethargic dog who has nothing but the look of sadness in her eyes. There are good days and not as good days though. Though she wants to sleep a lot, she is still eating (though as fussy as she's always been).

I'm trying to remain positive. Her bloodwork came back fine and all other physical exam points were unremarkable this past Wednesday at the specialist so I'm just trying to use the power of positive thinking to get through this.

This website is making me realize there is so much more I can do for her after the surgery if that happens tomorrow. I'm trying to not focus on her death sentence, but figure out how to better manage her future life sentence. Clearly it's all one day at a time.

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Jan 25, 2012
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Thank You Lucy
by: Rich

Thank you for sharing. What a heartwrenching time that was last year. Time does heal all wounds as they say. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her and sometimes get misty eyed. But the memories in my head and heart are priceless.

I went out soon thereafter and rescued another little Beagle girl and ironically, I named her Lucy :-). She is approximately four years old, but it feels like we have been together forever. It really truly helped with the healing process. Knowing that I saved her from a sadder life, and that she saved me from one makes all the difference.

I swear that before Layla passed on, she zipped by Lucy's kennel first at the shelter and whispered 'Be patient, your new daddy will be here soon'. I know it sounds strange but something so familiar about the new dog definitely brought a sense of comfort.

Good luck to you in your time of mending a heavy heart. My thoughts are with you.

Jan 25, 2012
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In solidarity
by: Lucy

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

I wish I had read it when my Bichon Stanley started coughing in November. I thought it was allergies. I had to assist him to his next journey Jan 13. There was a mass on the xray on his lung and I should have looked at the web to see that all his symptoms fit lung cancer.

Instead I thought it was lymes, which it may have been along with pancreatitis. He went from being like a puppy at 15 and a half to a persistent cough. It is so hard and I am so sorry for your loss. You sure loved Layla and I wish you the best in holding on to all your joy with her.

Thanks again!

Oct 05, 2011
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So sorry
by: Hazel

Hi, Rich,

I am so sorry to hear that Layla didn't make it. It looked so promising after the surgery...

I know it must be very hard and disheartening for you, and you must now be going through a very tough time. However, please remember that you did all you could to help Layla, and I am sure she appreciated that. She was one lucky pup to have had a dad like you.

Please treasure the good memories of Layla and know that she is always there with you - in your heart.

Take care and stay strong!

Oct 02, 2011
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Sad News
by: Rich

With a heavy heart, I am updating this post to let you all know that Layla did not make it. She was fine for a couple weeks after the surgery, but after her first round of Chemo, I knew something was wrong. She stopped eating and for the first week, I figured it was the Chemo. But as the days went on and she still had no appetite, I continued to ask the vet on several occasions with no answers. We tried all sorts of medicines to get her to eat.

Finally, on Friday September 16th I took Layla to an acupuncturist and it was like magic. That night, she became interested in food again and over the whole weekend, she ate on her own and it all seemed like we were on the right track. Come Monday, I noticed she was breathing a little deeper than usual, and she stopped eating again.

On Wednesday September 21st, I took her back to the vet and x-rays showed an excessive fluid build up around her heart and lungs. They could only assume the cancer came back with a vengeance but couldn't offer much more explanation. There was nothing more I could do for her at that point and had to make the painful decision to let her go. The pain of losing her is still immense, but I'm grateful that she is no longer suffering.

My sweet beautiful Layla, you will be always be in my heart.

Aug 16, 2011
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Good News!
by: Rich

I know there will be many who don't get good news and it's a bittersweet posting. But I'm hoping that my posts will at least be encouragement for those who have been in my position and wondering what to do.

Layla has been recovering nicely. I was at work today that I received the call from the surgeon to go over the biopsy results. He said it was the best we could have hoped for. No vessels growing in the tumor, no dead tissue. He noted that he took 5 mm of good tissue and feels he really got it all. He does still recommend chemo which we will be doing.

When I got home from work and let Layla out of her isolated space in the spare room (mattress now moved to the floor for her!), she was with extra spirits, wagging her tail and more energetic than I've seen her in a couple of months now. It's as if she knew the results that were delivered to me today.

I've started her on the cancer diet (whew...that was a long afternoon of cooking on Saturday!), one teaspoon a day mixed with her regular food and we'll be working our way up as she heals. I'm in a euphoric state tonight, very happy that the wait has been worth it. I know she still has a long road to recovery, and the final is unknown. But I've learned so much from this....

Put the work aside sometimes. I feel like I work so much, even when I get home from work that to me, if the dogs were in the room, it was normal because they were there. I most certainly didn't neglect them.... very much loved dogs who get a lot of attention. But the quality time probably lacked real things. My older girl doesn't like walks anymore, she's 12 so I can understand that. But Layla is only 7... guess I wasn't as proactive, just lumping the two dogs together. I can't WAIT to take her for walks on her own now and not just think the big backyard is enough exercise. I've learned soooo much through all of this.

So, on with recovery and a renewed hope for the future. Thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts!

Aug 10, 2011
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Good News!
by: Hazel

Hi, Rich,

So glad to hear that Layla's surgery went well and that she has been doing fine post-surgery. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that she will continue to do well and recover to the fullest extent.

I am so happy for you!

Please keep us informed of Layla's progress!

Aug 09, 2011
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Layla's Update
by: Rich

It's been a long day, but all ends with superb news and I'm the happiest man on planet Earth!

I was up at 4:45 am, dropped her off in Pittsburgh at 7:45 am. They called me at 11:00 am and said she was out of surgery and doing well, resting in the ICU where she'll be until morning. The Surgeon called me tonight and said it went better than he expected it to. They removed the tumor and he sees all clean healthy tissue. He said she's not in need of an oxygen tube because she's breathing well.

When they let her out of the cage, she walks with her tail in the air... but when it comes time to go back in the cage, she sits there stubborn and adamant that she's NOT going back into the cage. THAT'S my Layla and it feels so good to see that they're seeing the personal side of her, they're giving her the best care ever.

The Doc said that if she continues to do well, they'll remove the chest tube tomorrow and said there is a chance I could pick her up tomorrow afternoon. Given that I'm 2 hours away, I asked if they could keep her until Thursday just to be safe and he agreed.

Whatever the long term outcome may be, I know I've done the right thing and she'll have more time on this green Earth to enjoy life to its fullest. I can't wait to see her back to her old self, zipping by me when I get home from work to run outside to her yard!

Aug 07, 2011
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Thank you
by: Rich

Thank you Hazel. Your words mean a lot. I'm thankful that Layla has been eating and drinking and still wagging her tail. I look forward to the day when I see her out running again with the energy she used to have. One day at a time! :-) Thanks again.

Aug 07, 2011
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Good Luck!
by: Hazel, Site Editor

Hi, Rich,

Good luck to you and Layla on Tuesday! I am sure the surgery will be successful given the fact that you are going to a Specialty Vet Hospital... And since Layla is only 7, she should be strong enough to endure the surgery.

You are right - dogs are extremely sensitive to our own feelings and emotions and can pick up our depressed feelings easily - so keep staying positive, upbeat, and joyful as you have been for Layla's sake!

We will be thinking of you and Layla and please keep us informed.

Best of luck!

Aug 05, 2011
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PS
by: Anonymous

Thank you Jacqueline, that is really sweet and your comment put a big smile on my face! :-)

Aug 05, 2011
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Another Chance For Hope :-)
by: Rich

Yes, finally at 7:30 pm on Tuesday the Surgeon called and said that the good news is that the cancer has not metastasized. And the good news too is that surgery is still a viable option for Layla. The scary news is that the tumor is big and not in a great spot, it's very close to her aorta. Every minute on the phone with the doctor was tough, I wanted to just break down and lose it but I listened carefully. I asked if the risk was more than 50% and he said definitely not...but that he as a surgeon had to tell me there is an extra risk involved.

So, by Wednesday morning after clearing my head I scheduled the surgery for as soon as they could get her in which is this upcoming Tuesday, August 9th. She has been having a very good week...lethargic as she has been but she's been eating all of her meals and going outside when she needs to.

I know she'll pull through the surgery, I have faith in the surgeon 100%. We're going to a great Specialty Vet Hospital in Pittsburgh. It's a two hour trip there but I couldn't imagine her having it done anywhere else. It's a scary time, but... after hearing that without the surgery, she only has 1 to 2 months left....good Lord...I have no other choice. Not that I did from the get go. If surgery was possible, I knew it was my only option for her. She's only 7. If she was a lot older, I'd surely be weighing the options a little differently. But I have no doubt this little girl wants life and is agreeing with my decision.

I've already bought the Apocaps, Fish Oil, Enzymes etc... getting ready to start cooking up the great cancer diet meals. I swear, I will be cooking better for her than I do myself. But, I'm committed 100% to doing everything in my power that I can to make her life better and to let her carry on this green earth as long as possible.

So, wish us luck on Tuesday. I'm glad I'll get to be home for the weekend to spend time with her and hopefully she'll keep in good spirits until the surgery as well. For as sad as I've been and every day with such a heavy heart, in her presence I'm upbeat and joyful and singing and talking to her as if nothing is wrong. I swear that kind of stuff keeps their spirits strong. I have truly learned a lot from reading. This website here will be with me always :-)

Rich

Aug 05, 2011
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Good luck Layla
by: Jacqueline

Layla couldn't ask for a better family... You are doing everything for her! I wish you and Layla a lot of good luck and a speedy recovery for Layla!!!

Aug 05, 2011
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CT Scan Results?
by: Hazel, Site Editor

Hi, Rich,

Have you got the CT scan results yet? Is surgery possible for Layla?

Aug 01, 2011
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Thank you
by: Rich

Thank you both for your warm and inspirational words. Today didn't go quite as planned, they only chose to do the ultrasound and CT Scan but won't have the CT Scan results until tomorrow morning so whether or not surgery is still the best option won't be known until then.

Thankfully, the ultrasound came back with excellent results. The big question now is whether or not the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes. If it has, surgery is probably not going to be an option. But I'm remaining hopeful and doing a lot of reading. This site really offers some truly wonderful information. So, another sleepless night and anxiously waiting for results.

Thank you Cindy for sharing your story about Molly. I wish none of us had to go through this, but I'm grateful we're not alone in dealing with it.

Aug 01, 2011
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you are not alone
by: cindy

Rich and Layla; sending prayers of peace to you both.

Rich, I have an 11 year old, Molly, that I wrote about here a bit ago. We, too, are battling two cancers, leukemia and mast cell. There is nothing I can do but keep Mol comfortable so am treating her with prednisone. I hate that drug but it is prolonging her life, she still smiles, takes a short lap in the pool daily, eats well.

She is on the decline and every day I wake up with a broken heart. But, I am confident she will tell me when it's time and I will say good-bye. Until then I kiss and love her, make sure she's having quality as she depends on me. Just like your girl depends on you. No one knows your relationship with her like you do, count on your gut for you decisions. Layla may still have more time than you think, enjoy her. Good luck to you both.

Aug 01, 2011
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Be Strong!
by: Hazel, Site Editor

Hi, Rich,

I am so sorry about Layla.

It's difficult to know what's best for our dogs sometimes, but I guess we just have to do whatever we can with our dogs' best interests in mind. I am sure you are doing just that.

As dog parents we need to be proactive and take control. Thinking positively usually helps you make the right choices and decisions.

Yes - there are lots of things that you can do (e.g. cancer diet, herbs for cancer, etc.) to help your Layla after surgery. Knowing just that can be empowering!

All the best for tomorrow, Rich, and please keep us informed! Our thoughts are with you and Layla.

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