Cancer in Dogs – Ramius’s Journey – Part II

Cancer in Dogs – A Retrospective of Ramius’s Journey – Visiting with the Cancer Specialists

Thank you for reading our continuing series about cancer in dogs, and Ramius’s long journey with the disease, which started in the summer of 2014 and lasted until he passed in January, 2016. When we last left you in Part 1, Ramius had just had a growth around his anus removed that turned out to be malignant.

Ramius Smiling - Like He Always Did

Ramius Smiling – Like He Always Did

The next step was to run some additional tests and visit with the specialists at MedVet Chicago, formerly known as the Chicago Veterinary Cancer Center. We set up an appointment with Dr. Jacyln Smith, a Veterinary Oncologist, and she told us more about the type of cancer Ramius had and what our options were. Both Dr. Smith, and Dr. Jayme Looper, whom we would meet in the near future, are absolutely wonderful and would give Ramius the best medical care he could ever have.

Dr. Smith had reviewed the report and analysis from McKillip Animal Hospital and was completely up to speed with Ramius’s recently diagnosed condition and the surgery he just had. She patiently and carefully explained everything to my wife and me and told us what we needed to know.

Dr. Smith confirmed that, with this type of cancer, known as a perianal gland tumor, it could be particularly nasty. However, she also thought there was a good chance that it hadn’t spread yet. And obviously, if it hadn’t spread, that would be a much better scenario for Ramius.

We were relieved and hopeful to hear this. The only way to determine if the cancer had spread was to have Ramius see the Radiologist, and conduct an ultrasound and take X-Rays. After that was done, we would know where we stood and could go from there.

What Was Ramius Thinking?

You have to wonder what was going through Ramius’s mind at this point. He’d just had surgery, but at least that was with a doctor and hospital that was familiar to him. Now, he’s in a strange new building, with a doctor he doesn’t know, watching the concerned look on his parents’ faces as they they have a conversation about his health. Of course, we’ll never know if any of this registered with him. Ramius was always smiling as you can see from his picture, and he always had a great disposition. He was never nervous or agitated.

We set up an appointment to bring Ramius in to see the Radiologist the next day or the day after. As always, Ramius did great with the procedures, and we took him home with us. And then we nervously waited for the results.

A short while later we received a call from Dr. Smith and she unfortunately was the bearer of news we didn’t want to hear. Ramius’s cancer had indeed spread to the lymph nodes.

We were flabbergasted and stunned to hear this. We probably shouldn’t have been, because you never know for sure until the tests and analysis are completed. But still, when we first found the growth, the doctor thought is was probably benign. Then we learned it was malignant we were told it was unlikely to have spread.

Well the growth was malignant and it had spread. Poor Ramius couldn’t catch a break!

Reviewing Our Options

Dr. Smith walked us through our options and next steps. She was very caring and thorough and laid everything out for us. Remember, Ramius was diabetic and just a couple months shy of his 11th birthday at this point. So we basically had two options:

  1. Don’t treat the cancer and do everything we can to make Ramius comfortable for his remaining days.
  2. Start treating the cancer. This is an oversimplification and there are many options and ways to do this, but for simplicity, this is essentially what our choices boiled down to.

Well, we certainly weren’t ready to start to saying goodbye to Ramius yet, and even though he was older and diabetic, he was otherwise strong and happy. That’s another one of the odd things we noticed throughout all of this; Ramius never showed us he was in any pain. To look at him, and be with him, you’d never know this awful cancer was ravaging his body.

Another factor was we knew we had great health insurance, and as I’ve said previously, the importance of this cannot be overstated. Treating cancer in dogs can be a very, very expensive proposition. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars easily. And if your pet isn’t covered by pet insurance, this certainly enters the decision making process. Fortunately, that factor didn’t enter into the equation for us.

Like a lot of times in life, you often have to make your most important decisions with less than complete information. Would this work? Would Ramius respond favorably to this? Is he strong enough to go through it? Are we strong enough to go through it?

What is the right thing to do for Ramius?

That’s really the key question right there. What is the right thing to do for Ramius? And of course, there is no clear cut answer to this question. It depends. It’s about what you think and how you feel. But I believe that as long as you’re always trying to answer the question, “What is best for my pet and my family?” there is no way for you to make a wrong decision.

Of our two options, we wanted to treat Ramius’s cancer. So that next step, and again, you take these things one step at a time, was to schedule surgery to have his lymph nodes removed.

But we also knew that even if the surgery was successful, that alone wouldn’t solve the problem. Some combination of radiation and chemotherapy would be necessary to fully eradicate his cancer. There were different treatment options, some more intense than others, that were there for us to consider.

But first things first, let’s schedule the surgery, which we did. Ramius had his surgery and the removal of his lymph nodes was successful. This was just a couple of days before the 4th of July holiday and we were all planning on going up to our cottage in Wisconsin to rest and recuperate.

And not only that, it would be a quiet time for my wife and me to discuss the different courses of action we could take for Ramius going forward. To this day, we refer to this weekend as the “4th of July Summit,” and that will be the next blog in our series.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

This will be a recurring theme in this series, but I urge you to consider getting pet insurance for your fur baby. Any kind is better than nothing, but we highly recommend Healthy Paws. You can read my review of Healthy Paws by clicking on the link below:

==>Click Here to Read My Review on Healthy Paws Pet Insurance==>

Thanks for reading, and please continue to read this series as it unfolds. Cancer in Dogs – Ramius’s Journey – Part III is now online.

And if you have or have had a dog with cancer and you’d like to share your experiences, please leave us a comment. We’ll be sure to get back to you.



7 thoughts on “Cancer in Dogs – Ramius’s Journey – Part II

  1. Ruby020

    Ramius was obviously a lovely very laid back dog. I’m sorry about what happened to him. I have a cat that had Diabetes then seemed to lose it then got it back again. Then it became suspected that he has insulinoma and Diabetes. He’s had a few fits which has caused some brain damage which means he now reacts to certain noises by twitching and they can cause him to go into a fit. He’s an old boy at 17 now and he’s also losing muscle. He’s doing well for his age and considering his conditions. When our pets are ill it’s very hard sometimes to know what to do for the best. He’s still very much himself, he enjoys a good fuss and can make it up and down the stairs. As long as there is a certain quality of life and a will to carry on we do whatever we can for our pets 🙂

  2. Jackie

    I read your post with great interest as we have two toy poodles who will likely someday need vet care. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as pet insurance. I didn’t have the time to check it out further, but was wondering what the average premium is. Anyway, thanks for bringing it to my awareness. Great post.

    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks Jackie. The premiums are very affordable. Depends on the age of your pet and the reimbursement percentage and deductible amount you choose. For Sacha, who is 5, we pay less than $50/month and that’s at the 90% reimbursement rate and low deductible. I recommend you read my full review of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance here. And if you click on one of the links in this post, you’ll receive a 10% discount on your policy. Good luck and come back and please let us know if you choose to get it!

  3. Barb

    That is one heart wrenching story. I left you a comment on your website wondering if you had ever considered an alternative therapy? The article was very well written and conveyed a lot of concern and love for everyone concerned. I pray Ramius is able to do battle with cancer and survive.

  4. Barb

    This is quite a heart wrenching story! I cannot help but wonder if you considered alternative ways to help Ramius? Most dog foods are like the Western Diet – poor in nutrition and full of grains. This type of diet leads to diabetes and cancer.
    We take care of our beloved pet by giving her very little grain but lots of good protein and a supplement she loves called Limu. Thus far, she is extremely healthy.
    It is a tough journey you must take with Ramius and it could break your heart. Just this year, I watched my oldest son die. He contracted a liver disease because of too much medication he took for a bowel disease called Colitis. Before they could get him on a transplant list, he contracted cancer in the bio-duct of the liver. How do you survive chemotherapy if your liver is bad? Well he didn’t. His liver failed. He died on March 9, 2016 after two years of battling it all.
    I pray that you be led down the path to healing and peace.


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