Suspected Lymphoma - any experience?

(37 Posts)
PearlHeart3 Sat 13-Jun-20 20:14:27

My beautiful mini schnauzer is undergoing a biopsy on Monday as the vet suspects Lymphoma.

I took him to the vets on Friday as I noticed the glands under his jaw were swollen. They checked him over and found his glands in his groin were also swollen. They took some fluid from his glands for testing but they wanted to do a biopsy; they were unable to do the surgery then as he'd only had his breakfast a couple of hours before his appointment.

He's 4 in August, I've had him since he was 8 weeks old and I'm dreading the results. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What was the process/treatment like? What was their prognosis?

I have full lifetime insurance (£15,000) for him and would do anything for him if it would help. He's been really lethargic the last few weeks but thankfully still eating. He has lost 1kg though. Any advice would be helpful.

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PearlHeart3 Sat 13-Jun-20 20:15:43

I forgot to mention, he's doing a weird cough/choking noise every so often and is drinking more water than usual too.

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Scattyhattie Sat 13-Jun-20 21:07:43

My friends 7yr dog had lymphoma, they had biopsy and then visited an oncologist who went through everything with them. Unfortunately his was already advanced so chemo probably wouldn't give that much extra, he was given 8wks with steroids but made it to 17wks when was time to say goodbye.

Scattyhattie Sat 13-Jun-20 21:49:54

Its crappy not knowing as our minds often to gravitate to the worst possible outcome.flowers

somm Sun 14-Jun-20 21:03:48

So sorry PearlHeart, if it's lymphoma i'd say let them go. You'll know when it's time. Like Scattyhattie, our boy had steriods, but the idea of putting him through chemotherapy, and transporting him in the car to that place where it would happen, just didn't seem right.

Loveablers Mon 15-Jun-20 02:55:18

My last dog had lymphoma. She was only 5.

Chemo for dogs is nothing like chemo for adults so if you want to go down that route then bare in mind it’s worse for humans. However - I’m pretty sure lymphoma isn’t cureable so it’ll just buy your dog a bit more time. Besides, it’s all a lot of stress for him and I look back now and I know I made the right choice I’m not giving her chemo

Quality over quantity. It’s all good and well keeping him here for longer BUT if his quality of life isn’t going to be great then it’s not fair.

Something I wish I’d been more prepared for - how quickly they deteriorate. I remember picking my dog up from the specialist vets and honestly you would not think there was anything wrong with her! Unfortunately things go downhill fairly quickly with lymphoma if you choose NOT to have chemo. It’s heartbreaking when they won’t eat. My dog couldn’t settle or open her bowels, would drink a lot. The weight dropped off her really quick and the look I’m their eyes is so sad. You’ll know when the time is right to say goodbye. It’s hard, but you’ll know.

Honestly my thoughts are with you. It’s heartbreaking. flowers

PearlHeart3 Mon 15-Jun-20 11:25:32

Thank you all for your kind messages and comments. My Teddy is at the vets today going for his biopsy, hopefully I can be reunited with him soon. He's lost a bit more weight since he was weighed on Friday. He's normally around 10-10.5 kg, but today he was 8.8kg. On Friday he was 9.3kg. He's still eating okay at the moment and bowel movements are okay but I have noticed how much more he is sleeping. Unless he's going for a walk or being fed, he just lays down, which is so unlike him. I really hope it's not lymphoma because having to make the decision would be really upsetting.

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somm Mon 15-Jun-20 20:56:03

PearlHeart, I really hope it's not lymphoma but, if it is, it's not you making the decision; it's the cancer. Thoughts with you xx

PearlHeart3 Mon 15-Jun-20 21:34:56

Thank you @somm. It doesn't look good. The biopsy results should be known in a week or less. The swollen glands under his jaw had a reaction when they tried to take a sample from there, so they had to take it from his swollen glands in his shoulders instead. The vet also mentioned his kidneys weren't functioning normally. The not knowing is the worst bit, but equally, I almost don't want to know. Such a helpless situation - I guess you are right, it is cancer making the decision (if that's what this is). I fear it's already quite advanced.

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PearlHeart3 Mon 15-Jun-20 21:41:45

And just to ease the sadness of this thread for a minute, here's a photo of Teddy. He's currently snoring in his bed.

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somm Mon 15-Jun-20 22:15:42

Lovely boy. If it helps, we found with this it was very fast acting and life for our baby was normal until the last couple of days. We'd been led what to expect by the vet. I hope your boy is okay.

BestIsWest Wed 17-Jun-20 13:22:15

He is gorgeous. I am a Mini Schnauzer owner, adore them.

I’ll be honest but this is a difficult post for me and I’m not sure whether to post. We lost our mini schnauzer to Lymphoma a few years ago. We chose to go down the chemotherapy route. The tumours disappeared overnight but he caught an infection and was very, very ill and we took the decision to have him pts.
I regret not going for the steroid option which might have given us a bit longer with him and a bit more quality time instead of which it was less than 3 weeks from taking him to the vet to losing him.

However, he was 10. Your boy is only 4. In your shoes I really don’t know what I’d do.

I hope you get a good result and won’t need to make such a decision. flowers

poisson428 Wed 17-Jun-20 13:25:59

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PearlHeart3 Fri 19-Jun-20 11:51:49

Thank you all again. So sorry for your losses @somm and @BestIsWest and thank you for sharing your experiences.

I've been reading how quickly dogs deteriorate without treatment and I'm already concerned it's been left too late.

The vet called today, it's been confirmed he has Lymphoma. She needed permission to refer him to an oncologist and further testing on the sample to determine type and treatment plan (if I should go down that route.)

So far I've agreed to further testing. The vet noticed his kidney function isn't normal at this stage, and every single one of his lymph nodes are really enlarged. She's not a specialist, but she said the best treatment can do at this stage is to buy some time. Hopefully when I've spoken to the specialist next week sometime, I can start thinking about what is best for my boy.

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somm Fri 19-Jun-20 20:55:23

So,so sorry Pearlheart. It's a very personal opinion, but dogs deteriote even with treatment, so in our case we just didn't want to put him through it. All of our boy's lymph glands were enlarged; lymphoma confirmed. Knowing he would die anyway, but have a slightly extended life, whilst being put through invasive treatment; no, we didn't do it. I'd have given a lot for us to have him around for several more months, but not if his life wasn't really worth living. This is a very personal opinion, but i wouldn't want my dog to go through any more tests if the outcome is still going to be the same. Thoughts very much with you.

PearlHeart3 Mon 29-Jun-20 21:24:47

Just a little update, I've decided to go ahead with the steroid and chemo treatment. He's stage 4 (it has spread to his liver and spleen) but he's otherwise in good health. We're going to asses him on a week by week basis to ensure he is improving, but ultimately his comfort and quality of life is the most important thing.

I'm a bit daunted for what lays ahead as it's quite an intensive cycle of drugs, but hopefully he will improve.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories. It's such a hard decision to make and even now I'm not sure if what I am doing is the best thing for him, but I'll take his lead.

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BestIsWest Mon 29-Jun-20 21:46:32

It’s such a difficult decision. I hope it goes well flowers

PearlHeart3 Mon 29-Jun-20 22:02:48

Thank you so much @BestIsWest

I also just noticed my typo - "asses" - definitely won't be doing that for him grin

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PearlHeart3 Wed 15-Jul-20 07:20:18

I just wanted to come back on this thread to post an update.

Teddy has so far nearly completed a full cycle of chemo (3 weeks in) and yesterday the vet told me he's officially in remission. He has to complete 4 cycles of treatment in total which will take him up to Christmas time, but providing he continues to progress as he has been, he should be in remission for 18 months, if not a bit longer. This week he is also being weaned off of steroids so hopefully he'll gain what weight he has lost.

The vet hospital is over an hour's drive away so it's a big commitment from me to take him every week (especially with a 10 month old baby in the back) but because of how well Teddy has responded to treatment, I'm happy to do it. He's suffered from no side effects (thankfully) and his energy levels are back to normal. The only thing I have to be mindful of is ensuring he doesn't come into contact with baby and accidentally lick him as the chemo drugs are present in his saliva (and faeces etc). So when baby and I are downstairs, Teddy is safely in the kitchen.

The only other point to note is cost. Once treatment is completed, tests, consultations and medicines would have cost about £9000. That was also a deciding factor as to whether I'd commit to treatment because even though his insurance will cover the full cost, his premium will undoubtedly go up at the next renewal and that's something I've had to factor in.

I'm really pleased he's responded so well to treatment so far. I think his (young) age is on his side plus he was in good health prior to treatment. His energy levels are back to normal and he still has his appetite. If you looked at him, you'd have no idea he had cancer, especially since the swelling in all his lymph nodes have completely gone down.

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BestIsWest Wed 15-Jul-20 23:05:11

That’s fantastic news. I’m so pleased for you.

PearlHeart3 Sun 07-Mar-21 10:16:57

Hi, I just wanted to update this post.

Teddy continued having chemotherapy until December last year. It was stopped a cycle early (4 treatments) because it was taking him longer to recover in between sessions and the oncologist didn't want to deplete his bone marrow (I think it was bone marrow they said!) He did have side effects from the chemo towards the end of the treatment. Vomitting and diarrhoea which was horrible for a week. He also lost a lot of hair, including all of his beard, which for a Schnauzer is really noticeable. They reduced the chemo drugs during this time to reduce likelihood of similar side effects in future. All was well at the end of his treatment, and was deemed in remission. However, less than 3 weeks after it ending, the cancer returned (it showed up during routine bloods and the lymph node on one of his legs had swollen slightly during those three weeks). The options I was given were to try him on the same chemo drugs again (unlikely to work as the cancer returned so quickly after stopping), try different chemo drugs (no evidence they would work any better than the others, plus increased risk to liver), or steroids to give temporary relief. Steroids typically give a dog an extra 8-12 weeks before becoming resistant to the drugs.

Weighing up all my options, I decided on going down the steroid route. I didn't want to put Teddy through more chemo, long car journeys to the hospital every week, high risk of side effects, plus he'd have to continue to be separated from my 1 year old due to the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs in his saliva.

Teddy started on steroids in December and has been on them ever since. The vets can't really give a prognosis. He has monthly check ups to monitor his lymph nodes. All of them are swollen now and quite considerable in size (and getting bigger on a monthly basis). Last night he had a seizure. Afterwards he was shaking considerably and walked with a limp on his left paw. Around 2am he threw up suddenly. I had to carry him downstairs. He had some more water and I slept downstairs with him so I could monitor him. At 3am he wanted to go outside. I let him out, he had a wee and then just laid on the grass like it was a hot sunny afternoon. It was 3am and 2 degrees out. I left him out there for 5 minutes or so and then tried to tempt him in with treats. He didn't move. I tried again with his food, he didn't want to come in. In the end I carried him back through to his bed in the lounge. He slept okay (I didn't). This morning he's still limping (no idea why) but he's eaten his food okay. He's still lethargic. Just lying in bed or the sofa. His temperature was really warm last night, but he feels normal today.

My vet opens in 20 minutes, I'm going to give them a call.

I know seizures, vomitting etc is an indicator of the final stages of lymphoma, but how do I know when it's time to say goodbye? 💔

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catsrus Sun 07-Mar-21 10:55:19

It's time to say goodbye now @PearlHeart3 without a shadow of a doubt. Let him go, please give him a peaceful end, no more suffering. It's the last kindness you can do for him.

villainousbroodmare Sun 07-Mar-21 12:16:58

Oh my goodness, it is most definitely time to say goodbye. Don't let it go on any more. Poor dog and poor you.

RolyPolyLilBatFace Mon 08-Mar-21 00:40:03

Gosh I know this is hard but you really must have him out to sleep now. So sorry but it's time - he is suffering and you must do right by him

Caplin Mon 08-Mar-21 20:04:50

It’s time, don’t put him through anymore.

I’m so sorry 💜

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