Running Out of Time

Running Out of Time

by Chelsea
(Winchester, VA)

I want to start off with an apology because this will probably turn into a novel before I'm done typing.

My Australian cattle dog, Sheba, was diagnosed with cancer on Monday. I can barely stand to type the "C" word. I rescued this baby about 3 years ago while on a road trip from Va to CA. I stopped in the Sacramento SPCA "just to look" and when I found out Sheba only had one day left before being euthanized, I knew I couldn't leave without her. They told me her previous owner kept her in a crate for 8 years; she lived, slept, went to the bathroom in a crate. Because of this, she hardly had enough strength to walk, wasn't housebroken, and had broken off just about every tooth trying to chew her way out.

I made a promise that day to make sure this baby enjoyed every day she had left, and I just don't want our time to end yet.

We've had a fairly healthy 3 years together. About 2 months ago we noticed her mobility declining and started her on Phycox, confident that it was arthritis and under the supervision of her vet. We didn't have a reason to do extensive testing, she is almost 11 now so this seemed like the obvious diagnosis especially since she showed no other symptoms. Over the next few weeks I noticed her losing weight, she doesn't have many teeth left so I assumed she just couldn't eat her dog food anymore and switched her to cans and boiled chicken breast. I scheduled an appointment with her vet this past Monday when I realized her weight wasn't going back up and she was getting stiff in her hind legs and really struggling; went in expecting it to be like Lyme's disease or something.

Her blood work was normal so they did X-Rays and that's when we found the tumor. It's massive, like close to the size of her heart and pushing right up against her left lung. Her vet said she doesn't seem to be in any pain, just having minor breathing difficulties, but we need to act fast. We were sent to a specialist today to get an ultrasound and see if removal is an option. Here is where my questions start that I can't seem to get a solid answer for.

The specialist didn't do an ultrasound. She said she could tell by the X-rays that the cancer had spread to her lung and spine, and because of that surgery isn't an option and chemo could slow it down but would cause her more pain that it's worth.

I just didn't get a good feeling about this specialist. Don't get me wrong, I understand it's a tough job; they have to be realistic and there are certain things they can and can't recommend, but when I mentioned trying natural medicine she laughed at me. She told me all I can do is give her treats until her time is up, and I'm not willing to accept that. Maybe because chemo makes her money and natural remedies don't?

On the other hand, Sheba's regular vet said it doesn't appear to have spread, and while she isn't a specialist, I have built trust with her and they were both looking at the same X-Ray.

If it had spread, wouldn't it have shown something in her blood? I know that's the case with many people I know who have cancer and I would assume it's similar with dogs.

Should I get a second X-Ray? Is it possible that the spots the specialist claims she saw aren't even related to the cancer?

We have an acupuncture appointment scheduled for next week with a holistic vet who is happy to chat about natural remedies, but a week is a long time to sit and do nothing.

Our current plan is this: Grain free diet, boiled chicken/ground turkey/etc coated in turmeric. I'm dosing her with CBD oils and probiotics while giving her alkaline water to raise her body's PH. So far, so good. Her appetite is good and she is getting around better than she has in 2 months, so something is working...

What else can I do??? 3 years is just not enough time with this baby and I'm so can a dog who was treated so poorly by humans for the first 8 years of her life still be so sweet and loving? I understand that a time comes when all animals must cross the rainbow bridge. I will not keep her fighting if she is suffering, but at the same time, I can't let her go until I feel like I have done everything I possibly can.

I told her vet that we are fighting, and she says Sheba will let me know when she is done. I just feel like this is a dog that was previously given up on, and I have to fight for her. I have cried more these past few days than I normally cry in a year, I'm just so lost and not sure where to go from here, it's so hard to speak for someone who can't even talk to you.

Please, if you have experienced a cancer miracle I would love to hear about it. Even if it's just an uplifting story to give us hope. Thank you!

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Jul 21, 2016
by: Hazel, Site Editor

Hi, Chelsea,

So sorry about Sheba. No need to apologize for writing a long post - your story is heartwarming and touching - I can feel your love and compassion for Sheba. It's sad to learn about the horrific conditions she was in for the first 8 years of her life. However, it's encouraging to know there are still loving and caring people like you in the world who won't let innocent and helpless animals be abused and suffer unnecessary.

I think cooking for Sheba is a good idea - please also consider the "Budwig Diet" (see this page). Also, if you haven't already done so, please see this page for more information on using herbs and natural supplements to help dogs with cancer. I encourage you to do more research based on the info on that page, and perhaps discuss with the holistic vet next week to see what the best treatment protocol is for Sheba.

If you read some other posts on this Cancer Forum, you will see that you are not alone - many dog parents are fighting the big "C" with their furkids. Stories with happy endings are, I am afraid, far and few between; however, here are 2 -

Little Harold Has Healed from Melanoma
Essiac Capsules and Our Labrador's Thyroid Cancer

I hope these stories can cheer you up somewhat and give you some hope. Don't give up fighting and please keep us informed of progress!

Good luck!

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