Hard choices

I talked to my dad yesterday about Ginger. He’d talked to the vet, and what he found out isn’t great. Not the worst news imaginable, but not great.

The lump is definitely a malignant tumor. It is definitely in her jawbone. It is, however, a non-aggressive cancer, which the vet explained meant that this cancer wouldn’t get in her lymph nodes and spread all over her body. It would isolate itself on her jaw. There is definitely a viable treatment, which is to remove part of her jaw. They aren’t sure how much they’d need to remove just yet, but it sounds like we’re talking a substantial bit, like a third of her jaw or more. The vet says she should adapt to this just fine and lead a normal life. However, she naturally will be disfigured, missing part of her jaw and all, and there’s no guarantee that the cancer wouldn’t come back. And, since she’s ten years old, fairly on in years for a Labrador Retriever, there’s no guarantee something else couldn’t hit six months from now.

My dad is going to talk to the surgeon who would do the operation in a day or so, to really get some details cleared up, and ask some additional questions. Right now, he’s left with the tough decisions that many dog owners face: where does he draw the line? Should he go into debt to prolong Ginger’s life by what may be only a few months or a year? How much cost is too much cost? And is all of it fair to Ginger?

I’ve told him, were it Bailey, my dog, chances are, unless the costs meant Lane or Jake couldn’t go to college, I would probably do the surgery… but if the tumor came back, in three months or three years, I would not do it a second time. And at the same time, I told him Ginger’s getting on in years, she’s had a good, happy life, and if the surgeon tells him this surgery is going to cost more than his property taxes, that no one would blame him for deciding not to do it, and just letting Ginger live happily for the few weeks or months she might have before the lump starts to interfere with her ability to eat and drink.

Ugh, this is the part of dog ownership that nobody likes. 😦

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One response to “Hard choices

  1. How sad. I’m so, so sorry.

    I was in a similar position with my beloved Jonah. For me the cost wasn’t an issue at all – I would have paid – and did pay thousands – for his treatment (he was epileptic, had Cushings disease, thyroid issues) as long as he wasn’t in pain and could still walk, eat, drink and eliminate on his own. When it got to the point that he couldn’t, well, that decision made itself. I would not have him suffer – he deserved better.
    These are difficult choices, and each must do what feels right for them.
    I will send good thoughts to Ginger, and to your Dad.

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