Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thoughts on amputation

Some of my earlier posts don't really reflect my struggle with deciding on amputation. I was trying to be positive at the time so wasn't really expressing my thoughts about that. I wanted to go ahead and talk about that now.

Coming to the decision of amputation has been very hard. It sounds awful and everytime I look at his little leg, it makes me sad. One thing that helped me was reading stories online from people whose dogs had the exact same type of cancer in the same place and they decided to have the leg removed. I also read a lot of information online about this type of cancer - even prior to having the consult at the specialist - the idea of amputation was in the back of my mind I was slowly adjusting to it - this made my final decision much easier. Also I googled "dog + amputation + recovery" and read through MANY of the websites that came up. It is truly amazing how well the dogs recover. Both my vet and the surgeon reassured me that they recover SO quick from it. It's a routine surgery and will actually be pretty easy on him. The bottom line from my perspective is that it guarantees that the cancer won't return! I'm not going to let this evil cancer take my baby from me and this guarantees that it won't!

The other alternative (tumor removal) has about a 40% chance of the cancer coming back. That seems like such a risk to me. And the recovery from that surgery would be so difficult. I can't imagine how hard it would be to get that area to heal since it's on his elbow.

My main concern in making this decision is guaranteeing it won't come back and also giving him the easiest recovery. That's what led me to decide on amputation.

The cost factor - $650 to have his leg removed (at my vet). $3000-$4000 for tumor removal at the specialist (regular vet isn't comfortable doing that)

During my consult with the specialist, he said that the course of treatment is really dependent on how far I want to go to save the leg - I responded that I don't really care about his leg, I care about his LIFE! I don't mean that in a harsh way. But I want him to live and be with me as long as possible!

My boss had a good comparison about this. When people have cancer, they often have different options for treatments. Some people choose to be more aggressive, some people don't. He compared it to breast cancer - some women decide to have both breasts removed due to a tumor in one breast instead of having a lumpectomy. I can totally understand. If I had cancer, I would be very aggressive with treatment. My mom died of cancer when I was in high school so I believe in aggressive treatment as early as possible.

Also I've found talking to people has really helped me. Talking to my girlfriends and friends at work has made me feel like I'm making the right decision. It's nice to have the support of others!

I know some people may not agree with my decision. But this is my decision and I feel totally at peace with it. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the right thing to do. Many tears have been shed over the past week or so. This decision has been very tough. But I can just feel that it's the right one.

Sorry for the rambling post. Hope this helps to understand how I came to this decision.

I hope this post doesn't receive any hostile responses. Please understand this is a very personal choice and it's my choice to make.

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