The Nunya Cancer Journal

This journal is mainly the original text published during Nunya’s experience with nasal cancer. Anything that has been added to the original will appear in green.

Beagle mix with snout cancer

To cut to the chase, my dog has cancer. She has a tumor (nasal carcinoma) in her nasal cavity running from behind the canine teeth to her sinuses on the left side. Today was day one of radiation treatment but before I go into that, let’s try to get some of the emotions out that will prevent the rest of this blog from being useful. My wife and I are sad. I am angry. I feel we never once hesitated to go to a vet or vet specialist when caring for Nunya over the last 12 years. How could something so big get missed? I feel like I let Nunya down in my decision making and now she is paying the cost. I think Ali and I are both confused and fearful. Did we do the right thing by trying to prolong her life or are we making her suffer because we will miss her so much? Is there a magic moment when you know it is time to euthanize your friend of 11 years?

I found Nunya at the pound in Waco, Tx where I was studying bioinformatics and trying to find my beautiful wife Alison. I remember the day vividly for 2 reasons, the first, because I was looking for a three legged dog and they only had one who just dragged his gimp leg. And the more important reason was just a magical feeling when I saw Nunya. She would be my dog.

Nunya out in the Jeep with DogglesFate or dumb luck, I do not know, but Nunya helped me navigate the waters in my younger years. Always staying close, always staying loyal and always up for a 2am Jeep ride. There is no better time in a man’s life to have such a faithful companion than when he is just starting to go out on his own. She followed me through every stupid decision, good day or bad day, because she believed in me (or my ability to hunt and gather from Walmart.)

I have so many great memories of her loyalty from standing guard after surgery, to sleeping beside me on a concrete floor, to even trying to protect me from the loud UPS guy, the list is endless.

She really became part of my identity and I strongly feel had influence on meeting and marrying my wife. For that alone, I owe her the treatment.

Whew, now that part is over, one more note: I mention cost below. This might vary from place to place. Paying this amount of money for a pet is a personal choice and may not be the right decision for everyone. My goal is to be as honest about the experience as possible to help inform anyone else dealing with the same issue. After this experience, I would recommend people who want their animal to have this kind of care investigate pet insurance. I am fully aware that the care she is receiving is not normal and while I personally do not agree, I respect other peoples’ opinion that a dog or cat with cancer should just be put down. Only time will tell if I will change my mind after this experience.

The ordeal started about 4 weeks ago with some bloody sneezes. We took her to her local vet who did about $400 in lab work and x-rays and sent us home with some pills. The thought was that the problem stemmed from allergies. This plan actually worked for the next three weeks and she was incident free until ‘bloody night’. Nunya is really good about notifying us of a problem. She came right over to Ali and I, then gently put her paw out and sneezed blood on us. On one of the sneezes a chunk of tissue flew out (1/4 the size of an eraser). At that point we were out the door and at the doggy ER (because of course this happened at midnight). Very little help… $400 later we are referred to a specialist for her first CT scan  (view the scan). Scan happened, they found a huge tumor but couldn’t give us any info until after the results from the 20-25 biopsy sites (ouch). For anyone who gets to this point with their animal – skip the specialist and go to the super specialist. They will have to redo all the blood work and CT scans. The blood work cost $300-400 and the CT scans cost $750-1250. The whole biopsy ordeal at the first specialist vet was $2,000 for blood work, CT, scope, and biopsy.

She figured out how to keep her mouth open while sleeping since she could not breath out of cancer nose.

Almost immediately after the blood night incident, she started having problems breathing and sleeping since her nose was blocked and most of the air needed to go through her mouth. She started sneezing, coughing and a weird panic breathing thing. We found the best solution to calm this down was neosynephrine sprayed in the nose, back rubs, and car rides. For some reason, when she is in the car she breathes out of her mouth normally.

That was a horrible week of waiting but we finally got the news this last Monday (week later) that it was time to see the oncology team at Texas A & M.Nunya arriving for her tomography cancer treatment

Downside, they didn’t have an appointment available until the 15th which was weeks away. Well that was unacceptable. Nunya needed care weeks ago. So we started searching for loopholes and found out from the great staff there that if the dog goes to the A&M ER, they can get fast tracked to seeing a specialist. We were in the car and on the way to College Station within an hour.  Nunya was admitted through the ER and stayed overnight for diagnosing.  They determined that her tumor was advanced enough that we should start on treatment soon.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Doctors, interns and students at Texas A&M Small Animal Clinic.  Before starting treatment, we spent at least 45 minutes to 1 hour discussing the process and the potential side effects of the procedure.  The quick run down of the scary: hair falls out and then grows back strange, radiation burns,  super radiation burns where chunks of the skin can open up and potentially require surgery to close, voids in skull from the where the cancer destroyed bone that will not grow back – the voids can get infected and require a lifetime of antibiotics and potential surgery, blindness, loss of smell, and death.

Several appointments, lab tests and horrible haircuts for ultra sounds later, we are back at where I started, Day 1 of radiation. Nunya will receive 20 weekday treatments of radiation using a precise plan calculated by the Doctor – I believe it is called Tomotherapy. This treatment required a $4000 deposit, with the remaining $4000 to be paid at the completion of treatment. Each day, she gets dropped of in the morning, put under anesthesia, zapped by radiation machine and then woken back up. We have the option to leave her overnight or to pick her up and bring her home. We opted to bring her home, which I think was the right choice for us. Finding the right balance between the stress of an overnight stay and a 1.5 hour car ride will be a challenge.  Nunya is very much a homebody so we know she will be more comfortable with us at home, but we don’t want to put her through any unnecessary stress of traveling if she is not feeling well.

We did not discuss chemotherapy as a treatment option and I think we were past the point for a surgical extraction.  So our options: 2 months of painful nose destruction and death or Radiation that does not sound fun but could prolong her life up to 19 months (we are pushing for two years).  We did discuss changing Nunya’s diet and it was decided that it was best to leave well enough alone (they were familiar with the same low carb diet recommendations seen online).

TomoTherapy: Radiation Treatment

After Day 1:
Her demeanor seemed a lot better today. She was generally happy and walking around even with the catheter and 50 percent of her hind leg covered with the stretchy medical tape. You could tell that her mouth was sore. Eating was a real problem. Anything that required the use of her tongue to grab was impossible. We tried a few things when the dog food would not go down and eventually ended up hand serving her bacon, ground meat, and green beans. Probably not the healthiest but it was the only thing we could get down.

Playing Hide the Tramadol. I glued it back together with peanut butter and it was still a no go.

She really hates her pain medicine, Tramadol. It must taste horrible. We have shoved it in everything and cannot mask the taste. It tastes so bad that Nunya will not eat the food we tried to shove it in again (I think this is how we killed her favorite snack of cheese). We have resorted to using a pill shooter to get it down her throat. The experience is horrible.

Tonight we also had to rinse the newly put in catheter; which was really simple compared to the Tramadol. Nunya really didn’t seem bothered by it.

She slept most of the night without moving or coughing too much. So day 1 was an overall win.

Day 2-5: The first week of radiation therapy was mostly uneventful. There were few side effects, and we noticed an immediate improvement in Nunya’s breathing. The only side effects we found were her being lethargic (normal for her after anesthesia) and a reduced appetite. We felt that her appetite was reduced more due to discomfort and just not feeling good after anesthesia more than anything. We started cooking beef, chicken and broccoli for her and she seems happy. The improvement in breathing came after treatment day 3; which was really unexpected. I am not sure if they were zapping the right places or the swelling in her nose was going down but she really looks and sounds a lot better. She had a vascular port put in her neck so they would stop poking at her legs. She really doesn’t seem to mind the stitches but the giant life preserver she has to wear is ridiculous to her. It does beat the cone type anti scratch collar though.

The port is huge under her skin. Looks like a Frankenstein bolt on the right side of her neck. We don’t know the cost of the port yet. She can no longer wear a standard collar with it so we looked for a harness for her. Petco had the best option in soft harnesses ($22).

Day 6-13: The Glory Days. She looks wonderful. No loss of hair and appetite back to normal. We had a great three day weekend with her and it felt like all was normal. There was more sneezing this week, and it got pretty gross. The vet had warned us that she would start to cough and sneeze out some of the tumor and mucus that was in her nose. She sure did, and it got everywhere. We recommend putting down old sheets or towels on your furniture, in your car, or wherever else the dog normally goes. As strange as it sounds, the gross coming out almost felt like a victory and that we were winning in some kind of disgusting way.

Day 14-15: Radiation sucks. The burns just appeared out of nowhere. I thought it would be a gradual thing where she lost the hair first then get a sunburn then blisters. Nope… it went straight to horrible red and yellow blisters below both eyes. We are trying to stick to her medication schedule as closely as possible but you can tell she is in pain. She is shaking and just sitting and staring at random walls. We alternate between to different creams, Silver Sulfadiazine ($20) and Xclair ‘Radiation Dermatitis Symptom Relief’ cream ($80) that are supposed to bring relief to the burn areas. She is being really great about us sticking our fingers in her oozing burns and waits at least 5 minutes before sneaking off and rubbing it off.

She is having a problem eating dry food again. We assume this is because she has similar burns in her mouth. We switched her to canned science diet and that seemed to do the trick.

Emotionally this period has been the roughest, as seeing the visible damages from the radiation treatment on your dog is hard to take. It makes us at times question whether we’ve made the right decision in going forward with her treatment. We still feel that we are doing the right thing and are hoping that the final outcome will be a much increased lifespan and good quality of life. It is just hard knowing you are putting your pet through pain and not being able to explain to them why you are doing so.

Day 16-19: Still bad.  The radiation burns have gotten much worse.  The area of exposed raw skin has greatly increased and is now under both eyes.  Hair has completely fallen out in two large areas.  The skin is pink and irritated, and looks painful.  We are still putting on the creams religiously to help soothe the skin.  After a few days of doing this the skin still looked bad, so they also prescribed an antibiotic to take as well.  The poor dog is on so many medications right now.

Some new behaviors have started as well.  Nunya has been housebroken for well over a decade and has not had an accident inside in many years.  But, over the past two days she has used the bathroom inside twice.  One time she peed in the car on the way to the vet office.  The next day she peed in our house.  Neither time did she make us aware that she had to go outside, which is what she normally does.  We are not sure if she did this because her schedule is off with the early morning vet visits and that threw her, or if it is medication related and holding her bladder is harder, or if she is doing this out of nerves (she hates going to the vet) or spite.

She is still in pain too.  When she is picked up from the vet, she whines for about an hour.  Once she gets home she will just sit around and stare at nothing.  Her appetite is also reduced again.  We give her an anti-nausea medicine but that doesn’t make her eat more.  She will lick at the liquid in her dog food but just picks at the solid parts.  She will eat some meat and vegetables if we hand feed her.  Mostly she just lays around and sleeps.  We are very much looking forward to the last day of radiation treatment.

DAY 20: WOOHOO! The tomotherapy is now complete!   They sent Nunya home with a certificate of completion and a nice bandanna around her neck.  The consult with the Dr was overall positive with a lot of warnings.  The worst news is we don’t really know if it worked yet.  The radiation will continue to shrink the tumor for the next week (hopefully).  The downside to that, is the acute side effects can begin after treatment stops.  Poor Nunya is already sore.

They suggested leaving the port in her neck forever, which means she cannot wear here NunStrong collar.

We go back in 2 weeks to do a quick check up (no ct scan yet).  Exact notes from the Doctor:

Congratulations to you and Nunya for completing her TomoTherapy! As we discussed previously, acute side effects after radiation can begin soon after treatment, and may last for several weeks after treatment is completed. Short-term effects frequently resemble a very bad sunburn or “road rash”. You may see hair loss, change in skin and hair color in that area, or ulceration of the skin. You are already witnessing the the radiation dermatitis syndrome underneath both of Nunya’s eyes. Continue to apply the creams and give the antibiotic to prevent infection. Indication of infection would be green, white, or yellow discharge from underneath her eyes. Nunya may appear sensitive or painful around her left eye, nose, and mouth.

Long-term changes are also possible and may affect the bone and lymphatic structures, although this is decreased with definitive radiation protocols (as Nunya had) when compared to ‘palliative’ radiation. Some longer term effects might include the slight possibility that the mineral in the bone in the area can be replaced by fibrous tissue and become soft and predisposed to fractures. Nunya will also always be predisposed to rhinitis (infection of the nasal tissues) for the rest of her life, since the tissue in her nose will never be completely normal anatomically again after the tumor destruction and the radiation effects—so she may need intermittent antibiotic treatment. The majority of the ‘acute’ radiation side effects should be resolved, however, in about 4-6 weeks after completion of therapy.

Nunya is a very sweet dog and a wonderful patient! Thank you so much for entrusting Nunya in our care!

After the TomoTherapy:

11/05/2012 – 4 Days Post Tomotherapy: The burned area on her face has continued to grow (as expected).  Nunya has tried to scratch at her face but we are doing our best to keep that down.  I am betting we have to go to the anti-scratch cone or the ring within the next couple of days.  It is a little more crusty than before – not sure if this is a negative or a positive.  Tomotherapy cancer treatment burns running about an inch and a half down from dog's eyes.

We did have an amazing weekend with her.  While she still hyperventilates if we try to walk, we was pretty active and went on a couple of car rides with Ali and helped with some steam cleaning.

11/16/2012 – The burns are starting to look a little better.  Most of the scabs are gone and the flesh looks a lot less red.  Her appetite is back and she has finished her antibiotic.  She hasn’t needed the Tramadol in a few days.  The one negative during this period – she seems to be more congested and sneezing a lot more.  So far, the sneezes have not contained any blood.  We are looking forward to her check up on Monday.

11/19/2012 – Nunya had her two week check-up today. The vet said she looked good and overall gave a good report. Our main concern had been her constant sneezing and Tomotherapy burns about 3 weeks afterhyperventilating. These were symptoms that started just before the cancer diagnosis. The vet said she was not very concerned about the sneezing/hyperventilating though. She said it was most likely due to post-nasal drip, which is an effect of the radiation. We should monitor Nunya and if the symptoms majorly worsen, or if she starts bleeding from the nose or mouth, we should let them know. Otherwise she should be fine. We still don’t know how much her tumor was reduced by. That answer will come in about two months at her next check-up, when they will do another scan on her.

The next step will be to start chemotherapy on her. This will consist of a daily pill regimen that will include the chemo pill (Cyclophosphamide), a diuretic pill (Furosemide), and an anti-inflammation medication. The vet says that Nunya shouldn’t have any noticeable side effects, other than increased thirst and urination. The chemo treatment is something that Nunya will likely be on long-term. The vet said most dogs who go on it will be on it for about a year to forever. That was not fun to hear, but if it increases her lifespan and helps prevent the cancer from coming back we are game. There are no guarantees of how effective her treatment will be in the long term, but it is the best chance for her so we will do it.  The chemo pills need special handling and require gloves to administer.  I am pretty sure Nunya will love that.

Update later in the day – We were called by the vet later on in the afternoon to go over a blood test finding from earlier in the day. Nunya’s liver levels were significantly increased from her readings about a month ago. The vet did not have an explanation for why this occurred, so wants to do an ultrasound to see what might be going on. The chemotherapy treatments will be delayed until this new problem is sorted out first.

11/22/2012 – Results but no answers.  After an ultrasound (~$500) and a really bad hair cut, we learned that her liver looks good (which is great news).  But we don’t have an explanation for the previous blood work results. We are waiting a week and then bringing her to the local vet for another round of blood tests.  Nunya handled the ultrasound like a champ.  She was a little groggy afterward but was active and hungry by 5pm.

11/30/2012 – Two more weeks.  Nunya had her second blood test done on Wednesday and we got the results today.  Liver functions are looking a lot better but still not where they need to be.  It was recommended that we delay chemo and have her tested again in two weeks.  Overall, she seems to be doing well.  Sneezing a lot still but no blood and less snot.

Tomotherapy related hair loss in Nunya the dog.

We did have two positive events happen this week:

1. We passed the ‘She has two months to live’ point, which is how long her life was estimated to be had we not pursued treatment.  While this marker was always an estimate, it was an important marker for us in evaluating if we did the right thing with her tomotherapy treatments.

2. She smelled the cable man.  Seems silly but small victories still count.  Internet was being flaky and Comcast had to come out to test the line.  Nunya was closed off in my office with me while the guy was working.  Nunya’s hearing is not what it was 5 years ago, so it was not expected that she reacted to the knock on the door or the noise of the man walking up and down the hall.  To my surprise, she lifted her head and started audibly sniffing and immediately knew someone was in the house (got the full bark alert).  This observation came as a huge relief because one of our concerns with the treatment was that Nunya’s sense of smell might be diminished.  *I should note that the hygiene of the repair man was great – we could not detect any smells coming from him.

12/08/2012 – So far so good.  There really has not been much change in the last week.  Nunya has been in a really good mood and has had a great appetite.  She still is sneezing and doing the strange reverse sneezing occasionally but the regularity has been pretty much consistent.  She has lost more hair around her nose and a spot on her head.  We have not seen her scratching so we are not really sure why we still see the increase in hair loss.  But there is a positive on the hair front – some of the ‘first loss’ areas are starting to grow back thin amounts of white hair.  Next week is the follow up blood test.  She is still on the liver medication, taking both Ursodial and Denosyl to help improve her liver functions.  We also put Aquaphor cream on her exposed skin patches to help heal the dry skin.

12/18/2012 – Still doing well. Nunya had to have another blood test last week to check her liver levels again.  The results came back showing more improvement, and her levels are close to normal.  The oncologist said that she can start on her chemotherapy medications now.  The meds were ordered and should arrive in about 3-5 days.  She will then need to have her blood re-tested in about two weeks, and a follow up visit with the oncologist in six weeks.  Nunya has been doing well otherwise and seems to feel good.  Some hair is growing back sporadically in her radiation burn patches as well.  We have even started taking her on short walks outside, and she is able to walk around without sneezing/hyperventilating.

Hair growing back after Tomotherapy12/29/2012We had a great Christmas with Nunya.  She has been doing well.  Still sneezing and reverse sneezing occasionally.  She has been feeling up to daily walks around the neighborhood.   We are still waiting on one of the chemo drugs, but we anticipate her starting the combination of pills this week.  Her bald spots are filling in quickly with golden blonde hair (even in the places that were white hair before).  The doctors told us that it was a possibility that if the hair came back it would be different.

Nunya's hair regrowth after tomotherapy

1/1/2013 – First dose of chemo.  Nunya had her first chemotherapy medication today.  She takes Cyclophosphamide and Furosemide once daily.  The directions say to give it in the morning as it will cause frequent urination.  Nunya lets herself outside through a doggy door, so hopefully that will not be an issue for her.  The Cyclophosphamide directions say to wear gloves when handling the medication.  Kind of an unnerving warning.  Nunya took both meds like a champ, however seemed to have a hard time getting the Cyclophosphamide down.  It is a bigger pill, so we’re not sure if it is hard to swallow or if it tastes bad.  Hopefully taste will not be a deterrent because she will be on these for the foreseeable future.

1/6/2013A week in. Almost a week after the first dose and all seems to be going welling.  Urination has increased and sleeping a little bit more.  Hard to tell if it is the cold outside and the warm bed sucking her in and not the medicine (I am guilty of spending a lot of time in bed with her this weekend.)

1/13/2013 – Another week.  Nothing major to report.  We have another blood test scheduled this week to see if the chemotherapy medication is bothering her liver.  I believe we head back to College Station in two weeks to have the nose scanned – we are both a little nervous and anxious about that test.

1/16/2013 – Blood test results came back and the Veterinarians at Texas A&M said that they looked good. Liver functions are still looking improved. Nunya is to stay on all current meds and her next appointment will be the big CT scan on Feb 12th.

2/2/2013 – TODAY is Nunya’s 13th birthday and we are extremely happy to have her here with us.  Today has been filled with treats and Ringos.

2/12/2013 – Great news today!  Nunya had her first CT scan since finishing the tomotherapy treatment and the scan shows that her cancer is gone!  There were no detectable tumors to be found on the scans.  There is the possibility that tiny cancer cells or tumors still exist, however Nunya is considered in remission.  We were so happy to get this news.

No cancer / cancer

No cancer / cancer

Nunya will continue to take her chemotherapy meds for the foreseeable future, and probably the rest of her life.  This is to help prevent new cancer growth or spreading.  She seems to tolerate the meds well so this is not a problem.  Another blood test was done to see if she needs to stay on her liver medications.  We should find out those results soon.  The doctor discussed Nunya’s sneezing and reverse sneezing and said that that will likely continue for her lifespan, but that it is nothing to worry about unless she starts sneezing blood again.  The scans showed how some of the small bones in her nose got dramatically reduced by the radiation treatments.  This means that she probably doesn’t filter air as well when breathing as she used to, causing the reverse sneezing.  This could make her more susceptible to infections, so we will just have to keep an eye on it and act quickly if we suspect she has any type of infection.  We also need to have regular vet exams done every three months, then have CT scans every six months to monitor her progress and make sure the cancer is staying away.

Overall though this was the best possible outcome, and was the news we were hoping for.  We had already thought that going through with the treatment was worth it but this helped reinforce to us that we did the right thing for Nunya, given her particular case.

3/9/2013 – Just a quick update to say Nunya is doing well!  Thanks @bobirakova for your kind words and input!

4/6/2013 – We are extremely happy to say that Nunya had another good month.  The tree pollen gave her a little bit of issue about a week ago.  I think it is again due to the lack of ‘filtering’ structure in her nose.  She would sneeze then start licking at her nose until we wiped it – little gross.

5/5/2013 – We are still very pleased with her health.  Still sneezing regularly but nothing that slows her down.  She has an appointment on the 15th at Texas A&M.  We are hopeful that all will go well and that they might have a suggestion for the sneezing.

5/15/2013  – We had been worried about Nunya recently.  Over the past week she has seemed like she was having more difficulty breathing, and you could hear a wheezing sound and a congestion sound when she breathed.  She was sneezing more than usual, and was snoring heavily when sleeping.  We were scared that maybe there was a blockage or tumor growing back.  We took her for a follow up appointment at A&M and they examined her and took radiographs.    The doctors suspect that Nunya just has rhinitis flaring up.  Rhinitis is basically an inflammation in the nasal passage that can cause the congestion and post nasal drip that she has been experiencing.  They put her on antibiotics (Amoxicillin/Clavulanate) for two weeks to see if that improves her symptoms.  Hopefully this will take care of her breathing issues and all will go back to being well again.  The vet suggested we do another CT scan in another three months, and we can do it even sooner if her breathing problems do not improve with the medication.   The scans and blood work look good for now, so we are hoping we are just dealing with an inflammation or infection that will clear up soon.

6/15/2013 – We are still battling the congestion.  Nunya seems to not mind so much and is at full activity.  She has been taking an antibiotic for about four weeks now.  The cancer side continues to produce blood snot and the non-cancer affected side is crusting up with snot.  She has been a trooper while we have had to clean up her nose with tissues.  She seems to have some difficulty breathing due to congestion at times.  We give her an antihistamine to help, but that tends to make her sleepy.  We will be calling the vet on Monday to see if they can recommend anything else to help with the congestion.

Left Side is from Feb; Right Side is from June 21st

Left Side is from Feb; Right Side is from June 21st

Previously a second page:
I felt it necessary to start a new page on our fight against Nunya’s nasal tumor because we have learned some bad news on 6/21/2013, that starts the final chapter of the story.  Nunya’s tumor is back.  The fight is over.  There is nothing we can do to get rid of it.  So unfortunately, the focus for me has shifted from a mind set of attack, attack, attack to let’s make sure Nunya is as spoiled as possible for her remaining 3-6 months.

Nunya’s runny nose had not cleared up, so Alison took her for a third visit to A&M where they did another CT scan of her nose and they identified a mass that almost fills the entire left side.  They presented Alison with a chemotherapy option that could potentially slow the growth but will not stop it.  Since there are little to no side effects from this shot of  chemo, Alison went ahead and Nunya was juiced up in the back.

Nunya’s runny nose is a little bit different this time.  More snot on the right and blood snot on the left.

The magic of tomotherapy only lasted 7 1/2 months for us but I would have to say I would do it again.  She has had several perfect months and even now as the cancer is regrowing in her nose, she appears happy and in really good spirits.

I never lost touch with the reality that Nunya would die within a short period of time but for my own selfish reason, I imaged after tomotherapy, I would be one of the lucky pet owners whose dog passes naturally in the night while sleeping (does this even really happen).  I thought maybe worst case we would get some organ failure or something else that would be a definitive sign that it was the correct time, but it looks like in the end, the crushing pain from the cancer will get her.  I now have three months to prepare myself for making the call on Nunya’s life at the right time for her and not for me.  In the end, it is really a small price to pay for her loyalty and companionship.

Nunya is nudging me now so I think it is time to start the spoiling at Petsmart.

Updates:

Nunya watching from JeepTo keep consistent with the goal of the blog, here are some more details:

Medicine – Nunya received a Chemo injection on 6/21/2013.  According to the doctors there should be no side effect to this first round.  It cost about $400.  With the shot, we got an instruction sheet that basically told us to not touch her poop or throw up without gloves (ok – we will not disagree).  Basically, for 48 hours, all fluids are not friendly to people or other animals.  We suspended walk schedule during this period.  She will need to have a blood test by the local vet in 2.5 weeks and then will go for the next chemotherapy shot, which does have some side effects (nausea / vomiting).

  • Ondansetron 4 mg tablets – Anti-nausea – Give 1/2 tablet by mouth every 8 to 12 hours for nausea.
  • Denamarin tablets (S-adenosylmethionine/silybin) – Liver supplement – Give 1 tablet by mouth one time a day on empty stomach.
  • Ursodiol 250 mg tablets #15 – Liver supplement – Give 1/2 tablet by mouth every 24 hours until directed otherwise.

Dr. Grayton at Texas A&M – We just wanted to mention how wonderful she has been with answering questions and giving us straight answers.

Status – As of 6/25/2013 – I would rank Nunya at a 2 out of 10 on a scale where 0 represents Nunya at best non-cancer state and 10 being the days starting Tomotherapy where Nunya could not breath without huge effort and the tumor was the largest.  The last time we saw Nunya jump from a 1 to a 10 in about 2 weeks.  We are praying that is not the case.

We received the “Discharge Notes” from the last appointment – These notes have always been appreciated as you can get hit with a ton of information at once.

The plan for Nunya’s chemotherapy is to alternate between the two drugs which would administered once every 3 weeks for a total of 5-6 doses for each drug. This means a total of 10-12 treatments will be given to Nunya as part of this therapy protocol. It is estimated that each treatment will cost between $300 – $400.

We started Nunya’s chemotherapy protocol today with the drug carboplatin, which is a platinum-containing compound used in treating some cancers in animals as well as humans. Some possible side effects include:
1. Nausea and/or vomiting 3-5 days after treatment.
2. Low white blood cell count, possibly predisposing to infection.
Please call your veterinarian or the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital if you observe any of these signs.

Doxorubicin is the chemotherapy drug that Nunya will receive at her next appointment and is a drug in the antibiotic class used to treat some cancers in animals as well as humans. Some possible side effects include:

  1. Gastrointestinal upset, nausea, and/or vomiting, usually 3-5 days after the treatment.
  2. Damage to the leg if accidentally given outside the vein. This is prevented by carefully placing an IV catheter for drug administration.
  3. Hair loss in dogs with continuously growing hair (i.e. Poodles, Terriers and Old English Sheepdogs).
  4. Low white blood cell count, possibly predisposing to infection.
  5. Heart problems if more than 6 doses are administered.

Please call your veterinarian or the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital if you observe any of these signs.

The full document is 6 page – if you are interested or if it will help your situation, I will email a copy.

Update 6/30/2013:

Nunya still seems very happy and alert.  She is sitting at the same place status wise as last week.  She now has blood coming from both sides of her nose which I cannot imagine is a good thing but she doesn’t seem phased.  We need to ‘clean’ her nose at least once a day due to the crusting up of the sneezes.  Gross but she breathes a lot better.

Update 7/5/2013:

Nunya Ready To GoAli and I are very thankful that we had a wonderful 4th of July with Nunya at Alison’s family farm.  Nunya was thrilled to be out running around and she was happy to chase anything that moved.  She still had her normal amount of sneezing but it did not seem to get in her way.  This coming week, we have to go for a ‘pre-chemo’ blood test.  We had to get a ‘post-chemo’ blood test and everything looked normal (except her higher than normal liver values – which have stayed consistent throughout the treatments). Ali and I are a little nervous about this round of chemo (Doxorubicin mentioned above) as the side effects can be a lot more envolved.  I think we have mentally committed to this treatment but we will have to re-evaluate post treatment.

Update 7/7/2013:

Yesterday and today have been a little rough.  We think Nunya stepped on a splinter during farm day that caused an infection in her back paw.  We didn’t notice until her foot was pretty swollen.  Ali took her to the doggy ER (because of course it is Saturday night) and they lanced and drained the paw.  The stress from the procedure increased her blood pressure and her nose started bleeding a lot from the cancer side.  They put her on an antibiotic and they told us to watch if the swelling returns.  The doctor also mentioned that the swelling could also be a sign of the cancer spreading but by the end of the visit he was pretty sure he saw a splinter.  Nunya had to go back into the ‘beach ring of shame’.  Fast forward to today and now she is limping on her front paw too.  So it looks like we are returning to the doctor tomorrow.  Until then we are carrying her around and keeping her on the pain medicine.  We don’t regret the Farm Day adventure as we know she had a great time, but it has turned out to be extremely complicated and expensive.  See the Pics.

Update 7/8/2013:

We are still being plagued by the splinter.  We took Nunya to her regular Vet this morning and they gave us some new stuff to soak her foot in and they recommended that we up the dose of tramadol we give her.  We are not fans of having to dope her up because it really takes the day away from her (she will sleep 8 hrs straight) and it seems unfair if it is not really needed but I think today is an exception.  The nose bleeding has reduce back to its normal level.  Thursday she goes for her next chemo treatment at Texas A&M.

Update 7/9/2013:

Today was a bad day.  There is no way for me to tell the story without Ali and I coming off completely crazy.  As I am thinking about it now, after 90% of the clean up is done and Nunya is sleeping in a Tramadol induced nap, I can’t help thinking WTF am I doing and where do I go from here.

The day started normally, Nunya bounced between my office and Alison’s.  All was well until it was around ‘frinner time’ (what we call first dinner – Nunya’s food gets divided into three portions breakfast, ‘frinner’ at 5:15ish and dinner at 8:30ish).

That is when the 3-hour nosebleed started and we had our 3rd trip of the week to the vet (it’s Tuesday).  This nosebleed was unlike what we had seen since starting treatment.  It started at the caliber of the ‘my dog sneezed cancer on me night’ and proceeded to get 10 times worse.  Nothing we were doing would make it stop.  All medicines were ineffective.  One clot would form and it would be blown out seconds later.  When I would try to wipe away the blood I could feel it pulsing out with her heartbeat.  All we could do was pet her, look her in the eyes and tell her that she was a good girl in hopes that she would calm down.  She didn’t seem to be in pain, but the volume of blood on her, the floor, the walls and us, was definitely upsetting her.

For some reason all of this happened in the hallway, which only helped to make the blood splatter more dramatic.

Ali made a quick call to the Vet and we were able to get in to see her normal Doctor (amazing the care that they gave her and their willingness to stay late).  It was at the vet that everything hit.  Nunya is bleeding out of both sides of her nose now; granted 99% of the blood comes from the original cancer.  Her breathing is starting to be forced out of her mouth due to blockage. With the drastic progression in the last two weeks, we realize that Nunya will not be with us this time next month.  We were now discussing where we would have her put down.   Yes, we still plan to take her to College Station on Thursday to see about the next round of chemo but I can’t help but think too much damage has already been done.  I told myself from the beginning that I would not euthanize her for my convenience  (or delay it for my convenience) but I honestly have no clue what I am doing.

The problem with the nosebleeds is it evidence of destruction but not of pain.  She loved the car ride, even though she was bleeding all over me.   I really hope we can look to the vets for some honest answers over the next two days (blood work tomorrow, chemo Thursday).

Update 7/11/2013

Two good days.  For us the good days are much harder to write about than the bad.  It feels that if we don’t wait to the last minute to write something, we will jinx ourselves.  Since we are not really sure what happens next it can be anxious at times.

Couple of new developments:

  1. We have developed some nosebleed skills.  Nunya mostly bleeds from one side.  That side is almost completely blocked by the cancer so most of her ‘sneeze force’ comes from the movement of her head (she leans her head back then quickly rushes it forward all the way to the floor).  If we quickly put our hand under her chin, she does not do this.  It also keeps her from leaning forward.  No force is require – just the back of your hand touching her chin.  Combine the no thrashing with the 10% epinephrine and we have a magical combination that normally will form a clot.  We haven’t had to perform the trick individually yet so that will be the true test.Sounds like I am stating the obvious – but Nunya picks up on our mood related to the nosebleed.  We try to keep it calm and reward her after the bleeding stops.
  2. We received some more answers that, I think, will help us in our decision-making.  Nunya received a stronger chemo injection, Doxorubicin, which we believe is the best shot at either reducing the tumor or keeping it at bay.  Dr. Grayton (again we must mention how much we appreciate her time) pretty much spelled out that if the cancer does not react to this treatment in the next week, we know we are at an end with the treatment and we can expect the continued rate of growth.  The cancer will spread, Nunya will switch to mouth breathing and we will look for signs of loss of appetite, weight loss, change in mood, and change in energy.   When that happens, it will be time.  If Nunya does see some relief in the next week, that also gives us a plan.  We continue on the treatment – watch the side effects from the next dose and re-evaluate then.   Both endings are pretty much the same but for some reason it feels like the ‘plan’ provides us with more clarity.Beyond the chemotherapy, Nunya was given prednisolone to see if that will help reduce inflammation in her nasal area.  She has also been prescribed more antibiotics in hopes of keeping the congestion down.  We are kind of at a trial and error stage, seeing what she will respond to best.

Update 7/24/2013

Tomorrow is a big day for Nunya.  We head back to Texas A&M to receive her second “strong” chemo injection of Doxorubicin.  The results over the last two weeks have been mixed.  She has been in a great mood, happy to eat her food, happy to chew on any project we give her, and very excited to go on her nightly walk.  We have had an increasing amount of congestion from the non-cancer side.  It seems to be a mix of 95% snot and 5% blood.  The snot is very thick and hard for her to clear so for the last 24-48hrs she has been half breathing out of her mouth (it is very possible that the cancer is also now causing blockage on this side).

We do expect to see side effects with this next dose – which is a big worry.

Update 7/25/2013

Nunya had another chemotherapy injection today.  Before the appointment we met with the oncology doctors and discussed her progress and treatment options.  We had been concerned about the increased wet congestion and breathing difficulty she has been having the past few days.  The doctors gave us the option of doing another Doxorubicin injection or trying the Palladia chemotherapy pill.  They had previously not wanted to go with the Palladia due to Nunya’s liver levels being elevated.  There is a chance though that she will respond well to it and have positive medical benefits, so it might be an option to try if the injections are not helping.

We decided to do another Doxorubicin injection at this time, as last time Nunya tolerated it well.  We want to give it another good try and see if it is helping with the tumor.  It is hard to tell if her increased congestion was due to the cancer progressing quickly or if it was just the Doxorubicin effects wearing down.  We decided trying the chemo injection again this time will help to figure out if it is doing a good job helping the tumor or if it is more ineffective.  We go back again in two weeks for another consultation and treatment.  We will decide at that time whether to try the Palladia or stick with what we are doing now.

Nunya’s medications were also changed up a bit to see if we can get control of the inflammation and congestion.  Her dosage of Prednisolone was increased for the inflammation.  We also discussed congestion relief and are going to try Guaifenesin (Mucinex non-combo) and Ceterizine (Zyrtec).  We will mostly need to experiment with the two and see if we get good results with one or the other.  Side effects should be minimal, mainly drowsiness and increased thirst and urination.

The appointment overall went well and Nunya seemed fine after getting the injection.  She got home and immediately ate a lot of food.  She didn’t seem to be in any pain.  She took a nap on the couch and slept well minus some congested breathing problems.

Update 8/2/2013

We are one week post-second chemotherapy injection.  We have not seen improvements like we had hoped.  Nunya’s breathing is still getting worse.  She makes a constant gurgling/snoring sound when breathing.  Sleeping is very hard for her as she constantly wakes herself up.  Sometimes she will try to breathe out of her mouth, but she tends to pant more instead of learning how to slow mouth breathe yet.  We have also noticed a decreased amount of the congestion crust in her nose and increase in reverse sneezing.  While maybe this is good, we actually fear it is not so good and that the tumor is starting to block most of the nasal passage so that even snot is not getting out.  We will have to see what the vets think at her next appointment.

The good news is that Nunya still seems happy minus the breathing trouble.  She enjoys working on her dog chewy projects, and will sit outside and sun herself.  We are still able to go on nightly walks too.  Nunya had another blood test done yesterday and the results came back as good.

8/4/2013

We are having a really hard time transitioning from nose breathing (about 99% blocked by cancer now) to mouth breathing.  Anyone have any suggestions?  When we go for car rides or walks she naturally switches and doesn’t get the ‘panic’ pant.

8/5/2013

We are entering the final chapter of the experience with Nunya’s nasal tumor.  Nunya and Alison met with the staff at Texas A&M in an emergency appointment due to her labored breathing.  Nunya was unable to get any sleep at all last night, and it was obvious she was uncomfortable.   Two options were presented, the first being another round of radiation/tomotherapy that would consist of 10 sessions for $3-4,000 that should open up her breathing.  We were warned that she has already received a lifetime time dosage of radiation and that most likely the burns would be severe and she could have massive destruction of the remaining structure in her nose.  Option two is pain management with Tramadol until plans were in place to put her to sleep.

At the end of option one, we would most likely see the regrowth of the tumor at the same rate.  So, while Alison and I have always believed that we would do anything to extend her life, we feel this treatment option is not prolonging her life in a positive fashion.  After experiencing the burns after the first course of tomotherapy, we feel that having severe radiation burns does not seem to be worth the extra week and a half to two weeks.  It has been made clear that the 10 day treatment is not a cure.  Having her undergo anesthesia everyday for ten days was also an increased risk due to her breathing problems.  The best case scenario would be improved breathing, reduced tumor, and a couple of extra months of life, at the same time still having the physical side effects from radiation.  The potential benefits just do not seem worth the risk or the pain she would have to go through.

So here we are a few hours later, after trying to get her to sleep with tramadol and only having luck if we physically hold her mouth open.  We have scheduled her euthanasia for tomorrow around 12pm.  We have less than 24hrs.  This is a hard reality to accept, but after seeing her discomfort and breathing difficulties over the past couple of days we know that there are no more good options.  We are going to do our best to spoil her and love on her in the time we have remaining.  It is hard for us, but we believe is the right thing to do by her.

Update 8/8/13

We would like to thank everyone for the supportive messages and condolences we have received after Nunya’s passing.  It really means a lot to us to see the impact Nunya’s story had.  We miss her very much and it has been hard adjusting to not having her around.  We logically know we made the right decision that the end had come for her, but emotionally it is easy to second guess ourselves.

We will be writing a final update in the near future that describes in detail Nunya’s final days, the symptoms she experienced that made us realize the end was here, and even the details of her passing.  Right now though the feelings are still too fresh and we want to be able to objectively write down our own experience, so we will take some time to gather our thoughts. We want this blog to continue to be as informative as possible for others facing unfortunate similar situations.

8/20/2013

Nunya Chasing DucksAs promised, here is the very detailed account of our final days with Nunya.

Nunya received her last chemotherapy injection, Doxorubicin, on 7/25.  We already knew at that point that her breathing was not getting better, indicating to us that the tumor was continuing to grow and not reduce in size as hoped.  The plan was to do the Doxorubicin again since it is a stronger chemo treatment, and she tolerated it well previously.  If there were no signs of improvement, then we were going to try the chemo pill Palladia to see if that got better results.

One week after the Doxorubicin injection Nunya’s breathing was still not improving; but instead was getting worse.  We could tell she was having trouble sleeping, as her snoring would constantly wake up her and us up throughout the night.  She would sometimes breath out of her mouth, but the mouth breathing was more of a rapid panting.  She wouldn’t breathe out of her mouth very long – it was more like a panic reaction to not getting enough air.  We also noticed that there was less crusty snot on the outside of her nose.  We took this as a bad sign, as we thought it meant that less was able to pass to the outside of her nose.  The good part though was that Nunya still seemed happy and not in pain.  Her appetite was good, and she still was able to enjoy going on walks and working on rawhide bones.  We still planned on going through with the next chemotherapy round to see if we couldn’t get some improvement.

On Saturday, 8/3, we noticed a sharp downturn in Nunya’s comfort level.  Daytime was not so bad, as she would be distracted with her chewy projects and following us around.  That night was miserable for her though.  Nunya seemed barely able to breathe out of her nose at all.  If she put her head down, it seemed like air would get completely blocked and nose breathing could not happen.  Sleep pretty much was impossible for her.  Any time she attempted to put her head down, she would almost immediately have to jerk it back up in order to get any air.  Sometimes she would switch over to a rapid panting out of her mouth.  After doing this for a little while you could tell her mouth was starting to get dried out.   She did not get any sleep at all Sunday night.  We tried giving her Tramadol to help with sleep.  It normally knocks her out, but this time even a 50MG pill did not get her to sleep.

Alison called A&M first thing Monday morning and was able to take Nunya in to the office for an emergency visit.   We knew that Nunya’s health was rapidly declining, so we asked if there were any last-ditch things we could try to bring her some immediate relief.  We knew that another round of chemotherapy was not going to be helpful, as that could take days for even a slight improvement, if possible, to happen.  It was apparent Nunya did not have days left at the current rate.

An option to do another round of radiation treatment was presented.  She could do ten rounds of daily radiation, similar to her treatment before.  Cost would be approximately $3000, plus another CT scan.  The positive side of doing radiation was that it could bring her quick relief and a reduction of the tumor.  The negatives were that radiation side effects could be more pronounced the second time around, including skin burns and the possibility of holes developing in the roof of the mouth.  Another concern was the risk of anesthesia complications was higher due to breathing difficulty.  A final concern was that Nunya had already received a lifetime dose of radiation with her previous treatment, so receiving more radiation could be toxic.  The radiation would bring results much quicker but it would still be several days to a week before shrinkage would occur.  Here are the notes from the vet about the radiation option:

Nunya was brought in to see us for worsening clinical signs from her nasal carcinoma. Unfortunately, the only option we could offer that would provide some (potentially) fast relief would be another course of radiation therapy.  Since she has already received radiation, we may not see as much response that we saw from her first round of therapy. There is also an increased risk of reaching toxic levels of radiation since Nunya has already had her maximum allowed dose.  She may experience more side effects such as desquamation in the mouth (like a pizza burn to the roof of your mouth) and on top of the nose (like a sunburn to the skin), decreased appetite, weight loss and loose stool. More severe side effects that may occur are fistulas (holes) that communicate with either the oral cavity or the environment.  These can form after radiation because the bone of her nasal sinuses has been compromised by the cancer and radiation.  We are offering Nunya a palliative dose of radiation, meaning we will only be giving her lower doses over a shorter period of time (i.e. over 10 days), and we would need to perform another CT scan on Nunya to re-map her tumor in case it has spread. Another concern with giving radiation to Nunya would be the anesthetic risk that is involved with this therapy. We have excellent anesthesia staff that provide the best care possible for our patients, but since she has current respiratory issues, that does make her at an increased risk for complications.

We took Nunya home after the visit to discuss how we wanted to proceed.  We talked it over but decided against doing the radiation treatment.  While we wanted to do anything in our power to make her comfortable and give her the best shot, we were not sure that Nunya would be able to make 4-7 more days without sleep.  Additionally for us, the potential negative effects of radiation outweighed the positive effects.   Nunya could get improved breathing but at the likelihood of painful burns and nasal/mouth destruction.  There was also the stress of putting her through another ten sessions of anesthesia and radiation, which was unpleasant for her last time.  Given the fast return and the speed of growth of Nunya’s tumor, it could start growing back very quickly again since the second dose suggest was not to get rid of the tumor entirely but just open her airway enough for comfortable breathing.  Weighing all these factors, we did not feel that the radiation option was right for her.  There would be too much pain for the potential relief.  We struggled with the decision, as we knew that radiation was our last hope of helping her.  Without it we knew that Nunya did not have much time left.  As painful as it was to process, we knew radiation was not the right course for her.

We watched Nunya all Monday afternoon and she continued to struggle with breathing.  She had not had any sleep in over 24-36 hours at this point.  She was clearly miserable.  It was not going to get better for her either.  We finally made the decision that we needed to schedule her for euthanasia.  This choice was heart-wrenching.  It felt like us giving up.  We saw the signs that Nunya’s quality of life had become very poor and she was not enjoying the things she loved.  Looking back, I remember all the caring advice we got about how to know when it is the right time and all those people were correct – you just know.

Dog Drinking WaterWe decided that we would schedule the final appointment for Wednesday afternoon.  We called our local vet to schedule it.  In a previous visit about a month ago, we had asked our vet if she would be willing to come to our house to put Nunya down when the time came, and she said she would be willing to do that if able.  When we made the call, our vet said that she was going out of town for a conference on Wednesday and would be out the rest of the week.  She would be able to do it Tuesday (the very next day) though.  Our vet was always wonderful with Nunya, and we knew that we wanted her to do it, and really wanted to do it at our house.  We agreed that Tuesday was the day.  It was kind of jarring for us to bump it up a day and realize that we had less than 24 hours left with Nunya.

We spent Nunya’s last day trying to do all her favorite things.  We took her to the park to chase after ducks.  We took her for a walk around the neighborhood, and went on an open-air Jeep ride.  We gave her chew toys to work on, and even cooked her a steak for dinner.  Nunya seemed to like the activities, but her energy was low and she got visibly tired quickly.  Just a few days earlier she could walk around the neighborhood without a problem, however on the last day she was very obviously worn out just partway through.  We stayed by her all day and made sure to give her lots of love and attention.

It turned out that scheduling the appointment for the next day was a good move.  Nunya continued to barely be able to breathe throughout the day and night.  She could not sleep at all.   We would watch her put her head down and seemingly fall asleep while her head was leaning down, but then she would immediately be jolted up when she couldn’t get a breath.  We tried opening her mouth and positioning her head in various ways to see if we could encourage mouth breathing but it just would not work.  We could tell that Nunya was miserable.

By Tuesday morning Nunya had been awake for over 48 hours.  She seemed very uncomfortable.  We tried giving her food, but she was not interested in eating.  She only half-heartedly ate half of a Milkbone treat, which was her favorite.  She would not drink any water, even though her mouth seemed to be very dry.  We had to coax her outside to try to use the bathroom.  Quality of life was very obviously poor.  We had to admit that in a small way it was a relief that her euthanasia appointment was scheduled for Tuesday instead of the next day.  She would have been absolutely miserable waiting any longer, and we even suspect that she might not have survived a whole lot longer on her own anyway.  Logically we knew that it was time for her to go and that it was the right time to put her down.  Emotionally though, it felt like I was punched in the face.

Our vet came to our house Tuesday around Noon.  We had requested a house visit as Nunya never did like going to the vet office, especially after all the treatments and procedures she had to undergo in the past few months.  We didn’t want her last moments to be scary and stressful, and knew that staying at home would be the most comfortable for her.  We were so grateful to our vet, Dr. Brannon, for agreeing to do an in-home appointment.

The vet came along with a vet tech assistant.  They were very professional and prepared.  They asked for an elevated surface to put Nunya on, which turned out to be our coffee table.  We had planned on letting her stay in her doggie bed on the floor, but that turned out to not be the easiest way to work with her.  The vet had brought a thick blanket for Nunya to sit on, so she was comfortable.  We sat right by her and made sure Nunya could see us and we stroked her head to reassure her.  They started by shaving a small portion of her front left leg so that they could insert a direct line into her vein that would be used to administer the drugs.  At this point, I had to sign the mandatory paperwork sealing her fate (yet another punch).  Nunya was first given a sedative that made her go to sleep.  This milky white drug worked very quickly.  We were actually not prepared by how fast it worked.  Nunya was sitting there and just quickly relaxed all over and her eyes rolled back.  She looked like she fell asleep, then got very still.  Very quickly after the sedative kicked in, the vet administered the drugs that actually caused the death.  The actual moment of death was not apparent, as Nunya did not really move once the sedative was given.  The vet listened to her heartbeat for a few minutes (must have been under five minutes), then quietly let us know that it was over.

Her passing was peaceful and there did not seem to be any pain or discomfort associated with it, other than the needle prick for the injection site.  For that, we were very grateful.  It went as well as we could have hoped.  Nunya did not seem to be scared, and stayed very calm the entire time.

We knew that we wanted to bury Nunya.  Our vet came prepared with a cardboard box that she would fit in.  They lined the box with plastic bags.  After Nunya passed, she was wrapped in a towel and gently laid in the box.  We put in a couple of her favorite chew toys with her and started the drive to the family farm and to bury Nunya next to other beloved family pets.  I think most people will take this action as a little strange, but it is something I felt that we always needed to do.

It was very hard to lose Nunya.  I thought I had prepared myself as best as possible for the event but the pain was nothing like what I imagined.  With time, I know all wounds will heal.  We wish we could have done more to help her in the end.  I cannot fathom the loss of a spouse or a child (not that they should be compared).

For me, the strangest moments are the hardest.  For example, if I accidently dropped food on the floor it was fair game for Nunya and I can’t help thinking about her each time I graze the ham in the refrigerator.  There are smells and songs (Let Her Go – happened to be the last song on the playlist – probably could have planned that better) that bring her instantly into memory.  I try to embrace that as a good thing and try to reflect on the amazing time we spent with her.

Two weeks later we still have not brought ourselves to remove her box, her beds and her bowl.  There will come a time in the near future but are just not ready for it yet.

We have our moments where we feel guilt about our decision to put her down.  Logically we know that the time was right and we made the right choice for her that prevented greater suffering.  Emotionally it is tough though.

Nunya heading off into the sunsetAt this point, looking back we are glad we did what we did in treating Nunya.  She was originally diagnosed with the cancer in September 2012, then passed away in August 2013.  After her first round of radiation treatment, Nunya had about seven months cancer-free before the tumor came back. Once the tumor was back, it less than two months before she was gone.  We are grateful for the extra nine months we got though.  We both feel we would do it the same way given what we know now.  We wish that her cancer would have stayed in remission longer, and in hindsight we wish there was a better way to monitor the tumor regrowth once it reappeared and to better determine what effects the different chemotherapy treatments were having.  We tried to do our best by Nunya though, and did everything we could to make her as comfortable and have as good of a life as possible.

78 thoughts on “The Nunya Cancer Journal

  1. Carole McDonald says:

    Hello,

    I have just read your final journal. It was so sad. At the end I couldn’t help but cry for you. Our dog Benny has been through the radiation, chemo treatments. We recently went to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for a CT scan. We have not had the report given to us regarding the tumor as Fort Collins did the radiation and Winnipeg, Manitoba (where we live) did the chemo. They found that Saskatoon and Fort Collins CT imaging is different. Saskatoon had to change their imaging and Fort Collins would give the final results. This was eight days ago and we are on pins and needles on how Benny is doing. Saskatoon, though did a quick peek at their results and said looks good. We sure hope so. Benny has the inverted cough and the snot, also. Our vet cleaned up his nose. He slept much quieter last night. We will be wiping his nose each morning and evening to keep the snot away. It did tend to dry out and block his breathing. Will keep you updated on Benny.

    We consider Benny a family member and as you did are trying anything that we feel would make him better and be comfortable.

    Take care!

    Carole

  2. Manuela says:

    I feel your pain. My dog passed 3 months ago. I had to put him to sleep and he had nasal cancer. I still miss him terribly and cry every time I think of him. My condolences to you. May she wait for you over the rainbow bridge…. and my little one for me.

  3. Pat Petersen says:

    First, I would like to thank you for the information you gave in your cancer journal about your lovely pet, Nunya. Second, I am so sorry for your loss. You showed the loyalty every pet owner would want for their baby. I, by chance, found your journal by looking up information on breathing problems due to cancer for my beloved pet, Babette. She was diagnosed with incurable cancer in the roof of her mouth in April. She had a swollen cheek, so I brought her into our local vet. Dr. Marshall was not her regular doctor, but told me we would need to set up a procedure to have her teeth cleaned and possibly some extractions. He said it was an abscess. We set it up for the following week. She fasted, we brought her in and her regular doctor, Dr. Bell cleaned her teeth and extracted 9 teeth. Antibiotics, soft food, etc. The next week, I saw her cheek swollen again. She fasted and we brought her in for an ex-ray. She called me earlier than I was told Babette would be ready and told me to come in. She couldn’t get an actual full view ex-ray, and suspecting it was a cancerous mass, referred me to an Oncology vet. They scheduled her for the next week, again fast and bring her in. We stayed in the area, visited family, shopped, anything to keep my mind busy. We were called to come discuss what was what. I cannot tell you the doctors name or what type of cancer it is, because I panicked and went crazy. I do have all of the information written down. Very nice doctor, she took my reaction very well. I didn’t take this lightly, as I know you well know. INCURABLE…
    Well, my wonderful daughter-in-law is straight from Russia. She raises German Boxers, and knew a lady that claimed she could put cancer in remission in her Boxers. My Babette, is a 10 pound Pomeranian. I have a very good friend that I sent the pill formular to, to be able to break it down for my sized pup. I started giving it to her that day, after giving the information to my local vet and the Oncology vet and getting their opinion. They both agreed it would hurt her. Incedently, they gave her 3 weeks to 2 months. Well, it’s August 30, and she is still here, but like you’ve experienced, I don’t know for how long. Until a few weeks ago, she was great. She just started bleeding from the mouth where the mass re-appeared. It was gone. Now it’s back. She coughs blood, just enough to get it on her chest and paws. She’s white, so it’s evident. It’s really not much, but now she has the nasal discharge, clear. But she has been snoring and although she can breathe, she does like Nunya, through her mouth, sometimes going into a pant. A friend of mine told me when she no longer has quality of life. She eats fantastic, only soft foods. Her treats, all soft. She does her business on her potty pads, hasn’t had an accident yet, she barks with her sister, Sashay, and still likes to play under the covers. I will now tell you the medications I have been giving her. The Oncology vet sent me home with Tramadol 50 mg., 1/4 a pill every 8 hours, or as needed. My Babette knows how much Nunya hated it, and Metacam (meloxicam) o.32 ml daily. The rest is over the counter, 1/2 children Benadryl, and 1/6 regular Tagament. I’ve tried every way possible to give her the mixture, I found mashing it and adding enough water to put it into a syringe and as I push it in her mouth, I cover her eyes and she takes it so well.
    But, her breathing. And when I get her and her bed cleaned up, enough blood coughed up to clean her up again and again. Her stool is fine, no vomiting. I don’t know if I’m being selfish or if she’s not ready to go. She’s out of her Tramadol, and my vet understands her need, but they need the Oncology vet to prescribe it another time. I don’t think they expected her to exceed the time limit they gave her. The most I’ve given her was half a pill, and I give it to her as I think she may need it. She has huge black eyes and looks at me, but I don’t know if she’s saying give me more time, or I’m tired. I know how you felt. Just a chance, she’s only 7 1/2 years old. My children are all grown and these babies are… Our babies…
    I have cried for you and your wife, and I have cried for myself. I pray I make the right decision for her. Thank you so very much for letting me tell my story.
    Sincerely, Pat

    • Nanci says:

      Hi: I am in similar situation with my hound, Rita. I put her tramadol and other bitter pills inside of empty pill capsules that I purchase in bags of 50 or 250 capsules. This way they don’t taste the medication.
      Best ,
      Nanci

  4. Kim says:

    Your blog was truly special. Such an open act of love for Nunya and others that may be going through the same fears and decision making processes that you went through. She was your child in all ways that mattered, just as ours are and those that we’ve lost have always been. Your amazing parents and she was just as blessed to have you as you were to have her. My heart aches for your loss and the decisions you were forced to deal with. Your a very special family and she will always be part of you…

  5. Lucinda says:

    Dear Thomas
    I have moved to Libya and my internet connection was too difficult until recently when we found an internet provider and an area of Tripoli where it functions well – so I now have access for a couple of hours a day. I just found your new blog and read enough to know the outcome for Nunya. I haven’t read the whole story as I know I will cry like a baby and I am at work so I will read it when I am in private and have a day off to let the red eyes recover. You are an amazing couple – I think of you often. When I’m kicking myself for not being stronger for Moomin and letting everything collapse after he had the radiation because I couldn’t cope with his suffering – I think how strong you two were coping and nursing Nunya through the hard times and giving her all that extra time filled with love and happy days. Your blog was a source of comfort and information when I was feeling desperate and unprepared. The love you gave Nunya was truly inspiring. As they say in my country…..Barak allahu feek

  6. gary rodgers says:

    Thomas I am sorry for your loss! Very well written account of a true love story with a pet. I read all of your blog and found myself crying at the end, like I knew I would when the inevitable came.
    I am pretty sure you are a younger man based on your writing’s and even after you brought me to tears I can not agree with your decision to prolong your dog’s final 11 months. It may sound cold and callous of me but I feel you made a poor decision putting your dog through radiation and chemo! I am only 58 and have gone though many dogs over the years as well as human loved ones that succumb to cancer. Just because you had the money to extend your dogs life really doesn’t justify the pain and suffering you put on your precious Nunya. I understand you thought you were doing the right “thing” as long as her quality of life didn’t suffer, but c’mon man as you wrote this blog you had to know that radiation burns as severe as you describe is cruel and inhumane. Picture yourself in the same situation as a human being; yes life is very precious and no one wants it to end, but even dogs know when it is time to go on. They have been doing it for eons, if not confined to 4 walls they tend to wander away when it is their time, it is instinctual. What I think what I am trying to get through to you is that you will realize as time goes on that quality of life is not in the eye of the beholder!
    Sincerely

    GW

    • Virginia says:

      I do not agree with you about NUNYA and her parent’s decision. If they cared for her (which they did), they took her to a reputable hospital, which they did, and she had several good months, then why question them?

      It seems to me that they made the best choice for them and their dog. In addition, it may benefit our dogs in the future, as what Texas A&M learns now from courageous pet owners who are willing to go down this path teach the vets will save lives in the future. (Let me say that I would not have either the stamina or the finances to be able to do this, but more power to those who can.) Cancer is insidious, in humans or animals, and is hard on all.

  7. Sarah Parra says:

    I just want to tell you how sorry I am for your loss and let you know how much my husband and I appreciate you writing about Nunya’s story. We first found your blog back in April when our dog Allie was diagnosed with nasal cancer. We also went through radiation treatments at our closest veterinary college (5 hours away) and were so hopeful that we would have the same success as you had with Nunya. Unfortunately the radiation and subsequent chemo only gave us a very small window of hope, and within 2 months from the end of the radiation treatments, it was clear the cancer was still growing aggressively. We managed it the best we could, but had to say goodbye to Allie at the end of July. At some point a while after that, I thought about Nunya and decided to look for any updates on her and was devastated to find out her cancer had returned and she was gone as well. We know exactly what you have gone through and what you are going through now, so I just wanted to send my condolences and share a little bit of our story. We still have 2 other dogs, but Allie was our special baby and we miss her terribly.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Sarah

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      Thank you for your kind words Sarah. I am very sorry to hear that Allie did not have a good outcome with the cancer and treatments either. It is really hard to lose a friend like that, and you have our sympathies as well.

  8. Crystal Jofre says:

    I want to say thank you for sharing Nunya’s story. My dog Roxy was recently diagnosed with cancer, she is a boston terrier mix. She was diegnosted 3 months ago and things are staring to go down hill.. Reading your story helped me understand the ups and downs of living with cancer.
    Thank you so much on behalf of Roxy!

  9. nicole b. says:

    Very helpful to have your documentation of Nunya’s and your journey through nasal cancer. Our dog had what we presumed was nasal cancer and we were given the same options with the exception of the fact that ours had CHF that precluded frequent anesthesia. Horrible position to be in . We decided to do hospice at home which didn’t work well because the nasal obstruction caused CHF to worsen and she went into severe respiratory distress and we had to do late evening ER visit and put to sleep, which was traumatic for her and me. I think your method of giving her 7 good months was brave and your care of her was meticulous and loving which is often more important to a dog than immediate comfort. Nasal cancer is one of the worst cancers because of the breathing and bleeding issues. Trying to find the exact right time is like a needle in a haystack and you managed to do so. Putting her to sleep at home was humane and can leave you with a sense that you limited her suffering while offering her everything you could. Good job, your track was difficult but well worth it.

  10. nicole b. says:

    One more thing: You had two nearly impossible choices to make when deciding initially whether to treat or PTS. You chose the much more difficult one for a loving pet owner. There is no “right” answer or choice. You have to choose the one that is consistent with your value system so that you can live with your choice and the outcome. You did that, which is much harder for the owner than the pet because the pet doesn’t have the insight to worry about the future. Other pet owners might have chosen differently because of lack of resources or support or fear of increased suffering, but what matters is your sense of the best approach for your pet, whom you know better than anyone else. Once again, I think you were brave and loving and kudos for choosing a path that was c/w your values.

  11. Kristyn says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My baby (Bart a silky terrier) was diagnosed 3 days ago with he same type of cancer. He also has a tumor in his nose and has bloody mucus upon sneezing. I am broken to pieces over it and my own health is deteriorating as well as his. I am trying to be strong for him because when I cry he gets very anxious and follows me every two feet. The worst part about this is, he doesn’t even know he’s sick. He’s not suffering (yet), and he hasn’t changed a thing about his daily routine. He is 16 years old but acts as if he is 7. I know that he already beat the odds by living to be so old already but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. The word “cancer” is the scariest word in the English vocabulary. It’s the worst possible thing anyone (person or animal) can endure. And watching and waiting for a loved one to start suffering is gut wrenching. As I pace back and fourth and periodically throw myself on the floor, he stares at me frantic, cocks his head and curls up next to me. Can you imagine? He is the one who is sick but he’s trying to comfort ME. 16 years is along time to have a pet. I do not have a memory that doesn’t include this dog! He never judged me, loved me unconditionally and was there when I needed him most. My most loyal companion, my best friend in the world….please pray for my little guy to hang in there…at least for a tiny bit longer. I will do the same for all of your little ones as well.

    • Debbie says:

      Oh Kristyn,
      My heart goes out to you as well as all the others that have written about their beloved pets. I just found this website and it’s 8 months now after your writing so I don’t know how things have fared for you and your precious Bart. I have a 12 (almost 13) yr. old black Lab named Onyx who is my heart. I love him so much. He was diagnosed recently with nasal cancer also. We elected to do no treatment as we have spoken with several dog owners who experienced the same thing, as well as 3 veterinarians that we trust a lot. The prognosis with or without treatment doesn’t vary much and I just can’t let him go through the horrible treatments and side effects involved. We are keeping him comfortable and he is still eating and playing, although not as much as before. His nose bleeds (one sided) are getting more frequent and a bit more intense and we soothe him and clean him and he’s doing very well otherwise. I’ve noticed a difference in his breathing just the last two nights…much more labored thru his nose…I am taking him to the vet now to get another x ray and to see if he is extremely obstructed. I told myself that when he began to have difficulty breathing that I would make the loving decision for him. So…Off the vet and praying that I’ll return home with my beloved Onyx. God bless all of you reading this and God bless your precious furry friends.

  12. Lisa Hunter and Zeke says:

    I would like to thank you two for your detailed and compassionate story of Nunya.
    The information that we have gathered from your experience is helping us more than any other site on the internet.
    With gratitude and love,
    Lisa and Zeke

  13. Nicola M says:

    I know I’m a little late but just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. Today, my own boy lost his battle and we had to make the horrendously difficult decision to have him put to sleep.

    I first came across your blog last April when my boxer was diagnosed with nasal cancer. At that time, even with treatment, the vets prognosis was 2 weeks to a month. Thankfully on our vet’s advice (and after having read your blog) we decided to go ahead with the treatment anyway. The vets were astonished at how well he responded to the treatment and they said the tumour had gone. Up until about 2 weeks ago we were pretty sure he was still cancer free and he was doing so well.

    2 weeks ago we started to notice a change in his behaviour, and the vets suspected the cancer had metastised to his brain. After that things moved pretty quickly. Today we had to do the unthinkable and have him put to sleep. I have no idea how we will move on from here, the grief is crippling, however I wanted to say a big thank you to you both for your well written and informative blog. If it hadn’t been for finding this we might never have decided to go ahead with the treatment that extended our baby’s life’s for almost 11 more happy months. Your recount of Nunya’s journey helped us through our own right up until the end and I’m very grateful for that. I hope time has helped ease the pain of your loss. Hopefully ours will soon as well. Thank you.

    Nicola

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      I am very sorry to hear your doggie lost his battle. It is such a heartbreaking thing to go through, and our thoughts are with you. I hope that when you think of him you remember all the good times you had and the love you shared. I know your guy had a good life with you and that makes him a lucky one.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your story. I’m glad to hear Nunya’s experience was able to help you make treatment decisions, and I am extra glad to hear that you got almost another year together with your dog.

      Alison

      • Linda Obrien says:

        Hi so sorry for your loss of your beautiful baby I no its from 2013 but my little girl has the same nasal cancer in her left sinus we did the an operation to try remove some tumour then radiotherapy last October 2015 we are December 2016 now for the last week my little girl has been sneezing and mucus coming from left nostril which ive managed to get out with baby nasal spray and baby nasal tube to suck it out no blood as yet I’m so scerd its all back she is behaving like a puppy no slowing down she has never had chemotherapy she is due à scan was supposed to be every 3 months her last one was may 2016 through lack of funds trying to get another scan done after xmass I’m broken hearted at this point she is just turned 13 any one no what to give for sneezing and conjestion? Preying this will clear and give us more time she is my daughter thank you so very much .

        • Linda Obrien says:

          Hi so sorry for your loss of your beautiful baby I no its from 2013 but my little girl has the same nasal cancer in her left sinus we did the an operation to try remove some tumour then radiotherapy last October 2015 we are December 2016 now for the last week my little girl has been sneezing and mucus coming from left nostril which ive managed to get out with baby nasal spray and baby nasal tube to suck it out no blood as yet I’m so scerd its all back she is behaving like a puppy no slowing down she has never had chemotherapy she is due à scan was supposed to be every 3 months her last one was may 2016 through lack of funds trying to get another scan done after xmass I’m broken hearted at this point she is just turned 13 any one no what to give for sneezing and conjestion? Preying this will clear and give us more time she is my daughter thank you so very much .

  14. Kelli says:

    Our lab Abby is 7yrs old. We have had our dog into our regular vet & another vet for a second opinion of her condition. We don’t have the money to spend getting a definate diagnosis because that would require hours of travel, thousands of dollars, and would consist of a CT scan as well as a rhinoscopy. But after tests, nasal flush, and several visits to the vets as well as the very
    quick growth of hard bumps on her nose, it is very likely that this is nasal cancer. What I am wondering is, did any of your dogs experience the mucus and snorting like a pig in the throat after a time? Abby started with the snorting in her nose, but it sounds like its in her throat now. Please respond if you know something about this. She is on piroxicam for medications, and i have been giving her the budwig diet plan for a week now. Thank you.

    • Sarah Parra says:

      Kelli — I am wondering if the snorting you are seeing is reverse sneezing. That would be like a gasping for air with some snorting type sounds. This video is a good example (not my dog): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXDledRQ7y4. If that’s what your Abby is seeing, we saw a lot of that with our Allie, and it’s mentioned several times in the blog about Nunya as well. Dogs without cancer can experience this as well, but we saw it very frequently with Allie after she got sick. We would rub her throat and try to calm her down when it would happen and that seemed to help sometimes. She would also gag a lot separately from these incidents, we think it was due to the blood dripping down the back of her throat. I am so sorry you are going through this, it is a terrible disease. It seems like so many of us have spent the money for all of the tests and treatment, and in the end it doesn’t buy us much time at all.

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      Sarah said what I was going to – that maybe you are experiencing reverse sneezing. When Nunya would do that it would almost sound like she was hyperventilating. There was not much we could do about it other than keep her calm when it happened. This is where we found the Thundershirt helpful, as it had a calming effect on her. Best of luck to you and your dog.

      Alison

    • Carol King says:

      Kelli: My dog, Cleo, a 11 year old lab chow mix has the diagnosis of nasal/sinus cancer too. She also makes that snorting sound like a pig you described. It is not a reverse sneeze but really sounds very snorty. She has been on Piroxicam since July 2013 when an x- Ray showed a tumor. On my own I decided to also give her Sudofed 1/3 of a tab 3x a day to control the nose bleeds. So far it has worked well. No major nose bleeds since then. Her symptoms of a nose bleeds with increased mucus started in March 2013. I opted not to have radiation or chemotherapy. So far even with her noisey breathing, Cleo still enjoys walks, romps in the woods and any food. I can say I am lucky she has survived this long. I am dreading the day I will have to make that hard decision of euthanasia.

    • Denise says:

      Hi Kelli,
      Our dog started with that sneeze, it came often after awhile, took him to the vet and was treat for allergy.
      Our labmix Cabot has nasal cancer and we are the cross walk. He’s a wonderful four leg kid.
      Denise

  15. Alex Alvarez says:

    I read your story today and was moved to write. I have been reading many stories on different blogs about nasal cancer but yours was very special. You tried so hard to help Nunya, and I am so very sorry she is gone. I got my Nuby as a puppy 14 years ago in March. She was brought by a neighborhood kid as his parents would not let him keep her and had to get rid of her. Right away I noticed her bloated stomach and the fleas. I had just gotten divorced and was feeling down so I decided to keep the puppy at least until I could bring her back to health. After several trips to the vet, the parasites were gone, as were the ticks and fleas and she turned out to be a pretty good looking lab mix. She has stood by me for 14 years. My wife knows I’m coming 15 minutes before I arrive, as Nuby starts peering out the window. I don’t have to tell you how much a dog fills your life. I find it strange calling her that. She’s my baby girl.
    Last October 23, 2013 Nuby had a bad sneezing attach and a nose bleed. I took her to the vet. Told me some blade of grass or something probably was lodged in her nostril. Did blood work and a x-ray. Sent home with antibiotics. She recovered quickly follow up visit showed her blood work came back fine. Well to make a familiarly long story short, today Nuby is at the Vet Hospital. She has been there three days. Between October and today is almost exactly 6 months. My beautiful healthy (perfect gums and all teeth even at 14) Nuby is very sick. She had a massive nose bleed that nothing we tried could stop. We mistook her snoring as a symptom of old age, the same with her reluctance to jump up and sleep in her favorite spot on the sofa. She never complained of pain and the two prior nosebleeds after October we treated the same way with antibiotics. There was no other discharge from her nostrils or a bump on her nose. The doc says that although the bleeding has stopped I need to decide if we should put her down now or try to treat her to extend her life perhaps six months. She was still going to walks with me just last weekend and playing fetch (if slower and tiring easily). My wife says its time to let her go. The doc says we can treat her with Palladia a new drug that seems to work in most tumors and it shrinks it and stops growth for a while. We can manage bleeding with a Chinese Pill Yunnan bai yao and if she has some pain there is Piroxicam which also is anti-inflamatory and helps to reduce tumors. A low carb high protein diet with supplementsand Omega three. All this will give her some relief and quality life for enough time for me to day goodbye to her. My question is Who am I helping? Do I go for the treatment and spoil her and love her and thank her everyday for her loyalty love and companionship of 14 years and then kiss her goodbye just to comfort my torn soul. Or do I just hold her tonight while the doc gives her her last shot and let it be? I am frozen in front of my computer screen, I didn’t go to work, hell I haven’t even bathed or shaved today. I cant move. Can someone please help me here?

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      Alex, I am so sorry to hear of Nuby’s cancer. I feel your pain as you are having to make the difficult decision of how to go forward from here. I wish it was easy to tell you what to do, but it is just one of those decisions that depends so much on the individual dog and general circumstances. We had stressed over knowing when it was the right time for Nunya. The advice we got was that when she could no longer do the things she loved it was time to let her go.

      Whatever you decide to do, it sounds like Nuby was well loved and cared for. The tough decisions you are making are out of love for her, and I have no doubt she feels your love and is glad to have you by her.

  16. amelia says:

    so sorry to hear of your loss, and thank you for sharing her story. my precious dog, amelia, is also dealing w/ a nasal tumor. i’ve had her since she was just 5 weeks, and we recently celebrated her 16th birthday! because of her age, i’ve opted to simply keep her comfortable. i would say the nosebleeds began about 6-7 months ago. our vet prescribed us a chinese herb capsule called yunan baio. it coagulates the blood and stops the bleeding almost instantly. there were one or two bleeding incidents in which the herbs had to be readministered 3-4 times before the bleeding stopped, but for the most part, one is usually effective. we’ve learned not to leave home w/out them when taking her on an outing as the bleeding can become quite severe, untreated. i highly reccomend this product. it can probably be found at an asian grocery store, and likely, online. my worst fear and leading cause of anxiety these days is over what might happen if she has a bleed while i’m at work. i do my best to stay close to home or to have one of us w/ her when not working. i would estimate the bleeds to be, on average, monthly at this point. her breathing is becoming quite impaired and i’ve found it helps to elevate her head on a pillow while at rest. she also seems to breath easier outdoors and has taken to going out 1st thing in the morning and crashing for hours and hours. i worry the decomposers will come for her! but i let her rest as it’s becoming difficult for her to sleep at night. her daytime behavior, however, has a lot of good stuff to it, particularly the evenings when both of her people are home. she walks daily around the neighborhood, has pretty good mobility and appetite, has playful spells, is a diehard beggar, and seems happy. tomorrow i’m going to buy a medicinal mushroom blend as a last ditch effort to shrink the tumor. i’ve also heard that a wafer called ‘nuvet’ is good for tumor shrinkage. i wonder if any of you have had experience w/ this product…also, tomato season is coming and she LOVESLOVESLOVES tomatoes. so either the excitement of the tomatoes will spark a new zest for life, or will cause excitement-induced nosebleeds and be the death of her. either way, we can’t go out w/out one.more.tomato season. i sure will miss her.

  17. Carol King says:

    I am also so sorry about your loss. I made the decision to put my precious 13 year old lab/chow mix, Cleo, to sleep 6 days ago. She had been on Piroxacam for the past 9 months for a nasal/sinus tumor. Cleo had 3 bad nose bleeds but continued to have bloody mucus dripping from her nose daily. About 4 weeks ago a lump developed under her eye near the tear duct. Over time the tumor got as big as a walnut and a fleshy spot the size of a dime appeared near the tear duct. Cleo’s breathing had gotten so noisy over the pasted 4 months. When outside she could breath much better because she was breathing with her mouth open. Her stamina had decreased lately, but she was still eating until the mucus she swallowed caused her to vomit. I decided that instead of having the procedure done at the vet’s office, Cleo deserved to be in the comfort of her home. I would highly recommend that route if possible. It has been a quiet week in my house. I miss Cleo so much, but I know in my heart that she had the best life possible.

  18. sean king says:

    One of the hardest things when I lost by boxer to nasal cancer was after all medications and treatment he would look at me and seemed to be thinking “why are you putting me in this pain and whatever I did wrong I will stop just make the pain go away” and half way through my sentence to him ” I know you don’t understand why I’m doing this to you and I would give anything to take the pain away and everytime I could not finish what I was saying. The hardest thing to this day is to ponder if maybe just maybe would another round of treatment of worked. I saw those pictures of your dog and the blood and papertowels and knew what you were going through, so thank you for sharing your story and I’m sorry I could not finish reading the end, because I was starting to get to emotional. Sorry for your lose.

  19. Jennifer Towe says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Nunya! I am going through this exact situation now. My dog is 10 and was diagnosed with a very rare nasal tumor over two years ago. She has gone through one full course of radiation therapy which shrunk the tumor by 25%(it is a slow growing tumor). The tumor was then removed. It grew back! We then removed it again and started a very expensive chemo regimen called Palladia. The tumor grew back again! We are now completing definitive tomotherapy treatments at Texas A and M. So far so good. We are on day 6. Fourteen more days to go! Please keep Gidget in your prayers! Dr. Grayton is the best.

  20. Julie Kilpatrick says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences, it’s comforting to know that me and my sweet, gentle little lady Chip (10yrs shepherd/collie/terrier mix) are not alone in coping with this terrible cancer.
    It’s been a bit of a journey to get a definitive diagnosis but she was finally diagnosed just over 3 weeks ago. The CT scan showed a mass filling the right nasal cavity, progressing into the left cavity, breaking into the space behind the right eye and breaking the cribiform protecting the brain. The news was devastating given other than nose bleeds I had a happy, healthy dog, thought to be slowing down a bit due to age. The specialist described her as a ” tough little cookie” who had been coping amazingly well with the discomfort. The prognosis is that she has approx 2 months before being overcome by the cancer. Offered a 4 week course of palliative radiotherapy as an in patient (home at weekends) but I declined as she can’t cope with the stress of being boarded. She is being cared for at home with steroid tablets to reduce inflammation and tramadol for the pain. Steroids have greatly reduced the bleeding and I have adjusted tramadol dose so she isn’t completely stupefied while hoping it is dealing sufficiently with the pain.
    Her previously active life has dramatically changed but she enjoys short walks, greeting visitors, pottering in the garden and sleeps a lot. The steroids mean she needs out to pee, and sometimes poop, several times in the night ‘tho oddly she doesn’t seem to have the same problem in the day time! Any solutions to that gratefully received……. Yes, it’s exhausting especially as I’m on my own, but Chip is worth every sleepless night. I’m dreading the inevitable and hope she will let me know when she’s ready to go on her final journey.
    Everyone’s treatment choice will be different and I have elected for what I feel is right for Chip given her condition is advanced and palliative care the only option.
    I’m in the UK (Scotland) and to date treatment/ investigations have cost in the region of £2,500 to £3,000 with all costs met by my insurer.
    My (new) vet has been great – I changed vet in my quest to get to the bottom of the problem but that’s another story. I’ve learned so much about this cancer, thank you for sharing Nunya’s story and we’re praying for Gidget and all other brave fighters. Xxx

  21. Nancy Lewis says:

    Thank you foryour very thorough and detailed account of what you went through with your dear Nunya. Our beloved 14 year old Nero (half lab, half golden retriever) has battled through 5 tumors over the last year, but the nasal tumor is simply more than he can overcome. After stereotactic radiation therapy in January (which was very effective for the original tumor, but did not prevent another from popping up nearby) and palliative radiation in June and July for the recurrence, Nero will be humanely euthanized at home by a hospice vet tomorrow. Like Nunya, Nero has begun to experience breathing difficulties as the tumor blocked the airways in his passages. Also like Nunya, Nero has begun to be unable to sleep as a result. We have done what we can, but our gallant boy has begun to suffer, and there is nothing more we can do to help him. I do not know how I will bear it at this time tomorrow, but if you have gotten through this, I suppose we can as well. Again, thank you for sharing your experience – it has been helpful to me. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      I’m so sorry to hear Nero finally lost his battle with his tumor. I hope you take comfort in knowing you did everything you could to give him a good life and gave him great care and love at the end. He was lucky. Losing a beloved companion is very hard and stays hard for a long time. While it eventually gets better, I think you will always miss and remember your friend. The hardness of the loss is the price to pay for many years of joy being together. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, and I suspect you wouldn’t either. You have our sympathies at this tough time.

      • Nancy Lewis says:

        Thank you, Alison. We miss Nero terribly, but we are coping. It is very, very difficult, but we feel we did the best thing for Nero. A dog who loved life did not love it any longer. It is good to know that the painof loss eventually eased for you, and I’m sure it will for us one day. But you are right – we will always miss our dear friend.

  22. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for creating this site. Your symptoms prior to diagnosis were very similar to our dog, Elsa. Elsa has always had allergies and we had gone to the vet numerous times to discuss some of her symptoms. In May 2014, she had her annual check-up and we discussed her noticeable lethargy . All tests were normal. In mid-June 2014, she had her first nosebleed. It was not very heavy but it was noticeable. It happened on a Sunday night and we went to the vet the next morning. Within 24 hours she had prominent swelling on the left side of her nose below her eye. We were referred to Gulf Coast Veterinary Clinic in Houston and had a CT Scan and biopsy that same week. Our vet could confirm it was nasal cancer before the biopsy due to the deterioration of the bone. After her confirming her general health and isolation of the tumor we began a course of radiation. Between the first and 4th treatment her nose would bleed continuously, light drips only. She never lost her appetite nor had a heavy nose bleed but towards the end of her radiation her mouth was very sore and she would salivate heavily when she tried to eat. I hand fed her fresh food and have changed her diet to high protein. She never had another nose bleed after her 4th treatment and the tumor and swelling was noticeably smaller. She completed her last treatment 3 weeks ago. After her last treatment, we drove on our annual 3000 mile trek to Cape Cod. She is a great traveler and slept the entire way. Knowing this may be her last year, we are trying to concentrate on quality of life and she enjoys the cooler climate. During that time she lost all of her hair on the left side of her face. Given the mapping and location of the tumor there was no way that the radiation could avoid her left eye and she will probably go blind in a few months. The burn began prominently after her last treatment as well. I kept it clean and found that cold 99% Aloe Vera helped soothe her burn and I believe it assisted the quick healing. The burn was at its worst a week after the treatment and was very much healed within a week. I tried as much as possible to create a wet heal. It is now close to 4 weeks after her completion and we are headed back to Houston. She will have a revisit check up to discuss possibly beginning chemotherapy. I am still using aloe sometimes and Aquaphor twice a day. Elsa does not like the amount of pills per day, I tried pill pockets but she could distinguish which treat held a pill and would reject them. I thinly sliced rib-eye rolled around each pill does the trick and provides good protein. I am hoping for the best. Like you, I have already decided that we will not go through another radiation cycle should the cancer return. I hope to keep Elsa as healthy as possible and concentrate on quality of life.

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with radiation treatment on Elsa. I hope she is healing up nicely and able to enjoy her usual daily activities. We found chemotherapy (in pill form) to be much easier than radiation and it had minimal side effects. The hardest part was, as you have already discovered, finding enough food items to hide pills in. Best of luck to you and Elsa and here’s hoping she has a long, happy life left.

      Alison

  23. J. LaPiana says:

    I first want to thank you for sharing your personal story, as it has already made me feel a little better knowing the future holds me making a decision that you and some of the other posters have had to make.

    Two nights ago, my 11 year old Rot mix, Isa, presented with bleeding from her nose, mostly the left side, but some from the right as well. It seemed to dissipate when her head was held up, but most likely she was swallowing it. She was very bothered by my trying to hold a towel to her nose and preferred pulling away and licking it up. It came and went for about an hour, and I could tell she was scared. I phoned my vet shortly after it started and paged the on call through their phone system and had a call back within five minutes. At that time the blood had ceased. I told the on call assistant that I would be in route if the bleeding started back.

    Isa was laying on her side at that point with no blood flow. Within five minutes she shot up and blood came out in a large shot. There was some clotting pieces but mostly a steady flow. I immediately brought her downstairs and into my Jeep and off we went. The bleed seamed to stop once we were in the Jeep and she was lying prone with her head up the entire trip. The on call assistant’s number went to voice mail and when I arrived at my vet’s office, I called the vet herself and was advised to go thirty minutes away to Emergency Services, as they could provide the best care at that time and could process blood work immediately.

    Isa’s blood flow ceased very shortly after we left my residence and did not start again even though she moved from the Jeep to the vet’s parking lot, back into the Jeep, and then thirty minutes to Emergency Services, and then into their facility, and, knock on wood, has not bled again. All of her blood work was “pristine” except for one liver reading the ES Vet stated was explained by her long term (2 years) use of Metacam for an arthritic condition. I had stopped using Metacam about five weeks ago as she was doing well without it.

    The ES Vet’s discharge summary states it is first nasal cancer, second a fungal infection, or third an obstruction of some sort. Later consultation with Isa’ regular Vet leads to the conclusion it is nasal cancer. I have not had an MRI done as yet as it is $1600.00 (and is the only imaging that ES does) nor had a biopsy that would follow, as I do not have those funds available. I immediately began reading on the web and did so for more hours than I remember. I then went out and purchased items for a holistic approach that I read about on several sites. Aloe Vera Juice, vitamins C & E, selenium, zinc, fish oil, garlic cell, probiotics, grain free dog food, hamburger, broccoli, brown rice, immune system tinctures, and others I can’t recall as I type this. I also purchased for her new snack, cottage cheese to be added to freshly ground flaxseed or cold pressed flaxseed oil.

    This is day two and I prepared the hamburger with fresh garlic, brown rice, broccoli and measured doses of the other ingredients I prepared in a mortar with pestle. Isa has had two small and one large bowl of this new meal today and she eats it like he is starving, licking the bowl and making sounds like it is the greatest thing she has ever eaten. Prior to this her eating habits had decreased significantly, which I now assume was due to her decreased sense of smell. She, being almost 12 (d.o.b. 9/16/02), also ambulated very gingerly for about two years now. Getting up and down the stairs has been a slow process for her for some time. I have also been adding the Aloe Vera Juice to her water, as well as syringing some into her mouth in the morning (although she really doe not like the taste of it alone.

    Just prior to the nose bleed, she had been panting a lot, and I mean a lot, for a long period of time, day, night, but would eventually settle in when she slept, but for a good part, if not a majority, of her time awake, whether having just expended any energy or not, and would wake in the night several times with said panting. This was told to the Vet at her last visit a couple of months ago, along with the period of time where she had a clear, steady discharge from her nose that later subsided. Nothing was stated about the possibility of nasal cancer, nor do I know whether or not it should have come up as with her ambulation being very limited and challenging, and her being a little overweight, it seemed to be her age. She would still walk in the mornings and choose how long she wanted to go, sometimes a block, sometimes several blocks.

    Well, day two, and really the first with the new meal regimen, and her breathing, knock on wood, has been near quiet. I can hear some gurgling in her nostrils at times, but still sounding mostly clear. She pants a little here and there, usually after her walk, but nothing like it has been for some time (I fear it is due to whatever ruptured causing the bleed just being smaller, but nonetheless it is comforting to her, and to me). There has been very minor clear discharge from her left nostril barely wetting a kleenex a few time throughout the day, and she went for a walk of about two to three blocks today, and we had a lay down in the grass and she got a massage for about an hour. She seems very content and is showing more interest in passerby’s. She further went upstairs and then came running down when the mailman put the mail through the mail slot and she hasn’t done that for sometime. She also ran down the hallway and jumped up at the door when the UPS man came. She is spending a lot of time sleeping but does not seem to be in any discomfort. She doesn’t seem to want to do too much and is staying in a small are of my downstairs, and only wants to ambulate out to go to the bathroom twice a day, but is moving around inside more so than the past few months.

    I am going to try and raise the money for at least the MRI so I can see how large or small the tumor is, and to confirm there is a tumor (although that is the consensus based on the circumstances and her symptoms. I am hopeful the holistic approach can keep her in a pain free condition until she lets me know when she is going to call it quits. What is freaking me out is the possibility that I come home and she has bled out which her regular Vet said is a possibility. I am in the process of finding sitters who can administer the epinephrine I have in case of a bleed, or the other injection the Vet gave me if that does not do the trick, which also, from what she told me, will also calm her down a great deal.

    Right now, she seems to be very content with sleeping and lying around in the window watching life go by as she has from her perch for the past 11+ years. She also took a Jeep ride with me to my friends and walked his yard and lay in the grass for a few hours looking happy. That night we returned from ES when she was looking at me as I scratched her in her favorite spot on her chest, I was seeing that she wanted to go, and through the tears, I told her I could not do it.

    This morning she was lying there with what I thought was the same look, during the same scratching, and, again through the tears, I told her I could not do it, and she got up and proceeded move about more than usual, later to run down those stairs after the mailman (that was after her Aloe vera infusion, and two small bowls of her new food regimen). She is now in her perch sleeping without making a sound. I am about to wake her to go out and see how that goes, and will also see if she climbs the stairs again or sleeps downstairs, wherever it is I will be with her.

    I hope to know when it is time, and that it comes without a major traumatic episode. I would like nothing more than to be at my residence with her and she being very comfortable without pain and with a look in her eye of goodbye old friend.

    I feel for everyone who has shared their personal story, and wish you, them and every pet owner all the possible best when having to live through the end times of a dear companion’s life under such circumstances.

  24. ray says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of your recent trials w/ sweet Isa. It has been around 3 months since I made the decision to say goodbye to my 16 year old, Amelia, who also had nasal cancer. We bypassed the diagnostics as all of the symptoms were present. Tests were costly, treatment was highly invasive and would quite possibly not be successful, anyhow. I couldn’t see putting her through all of that at her age. She was a herder and her vigilance and devotion to her family kept her hanging on. It made my decision all the more difficult, and she fought the injection at the time of euthanasia and was trying, repeatedly, to get up and walk away(the vet had come to the house, something Amelia had witnessed for our previous three animals). That said, she had had a seizure that morning and had lost the use of her hind limbs, the bleeds had been going on for almost a year, the previous two weeks showed such a decline in her ability to breath that she could no longer sleep w/out jerking awake every few minutes for lack of air flow, and it was now painful/impossible for her to eat. Through all of that, she still displayed will to live and a playful spirit. It absolutely killed me to have to do it but the writing was on the wall. I kept her on some heavy duty painkillers those last few days and was able to say goodbye in the comfort of our yard in which we shared SO much special time together. I’m still greiving heavily for her as we spent almost two decades being each others’ number 1 girl. Don’t know that any friend will ever hold a candle to that girl. Medically speaking, though, the one thing that was virtually life or death in regards to the bleeds, was the use of the chinese herb called Yunan Baio. It will coagulate the blood w/in minutes, sometimes seconds, and cease the bleeding, preventing a ‘bleed-out’. I, too, worried about bleeds while I was away from home, and I was extremely lucky that that never happened. When out w/ Amelia, I took those herbs everywhere we went. I found, in the end, that stimulating smells or exciting events were triggers for the bleeds. I got the herbs from my holistic vet, but I believe they are available at asian markets/pharmacies, or possibly online. I can’t reccomend them enough. Best of luck , and love, to you and Isa in your journey. May the transition be smooth.

  25. Della says:

    Thank you for very helpful blog. I have just received an adenocarcinoma diagnosis on my 7yr old beagle/jack Russell mix. After reading your story, I know what my decision will be in regards to future treatment. I understand your choice and appreciate all you and Nunya went through. Through your struggle, I was able to make a conscious decision to not pursue additional treatment for her. I love her with all my being, but I know I could not put her through that battle. Thank you again for your insight.

  26. Patrica Davis says:

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this journal. The details were incredibly helpful to me. Koko, my baby, 10 yr old female Chow Chow was diagnosed with nasal cancer last week. Unfortunately for her and us, treatment is limited. When I first became aware of a problem, about 7 months ago, she was immediately taken to the ER Vet. I had come home from work, she had a trail of blood coming out her right nostril. The ER Vet was not very helpful, but expensive. I was told to follow up with our Vet, which I did. My husband had just returned from being out of town and we took her to our Vet, who said Koko had some tooth and dental issues that had invaded her sinus cavity. 28 teeth and over $2,000 later, Koko was still having the same problem that we had originally had taken her in for. The past 6 months have been a constant whirl of steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines. No improvement, in fact, she was getting worse and her breathing was becoming labored. My husband was out of town due to a family emergency, when we decided to take her to another Vet and get a second opinion. That appointment was 9 days ago. A skull xray revealed a nasal cavity tumor. Two days later we had her at a specialist where a CT scan was performed. The Dr told us terminal cancer. He did not recommend having the biopsy done, stating it would stir up a hornet’s nest. I watched my brother die as a result of brain cancer, and I swore I would never take chemo or radiation. I could not in good conscience put Koko through it, if I, myself, was not willing to go that route. I’m listening to my girl snore and the struggle for air is continuing. Our appointment with our new Vet is on Thursday, seeking his advice and recommendations to providing for her during these final days. I do not want her to suffer, but, by goodness I’m not ready to say goodbye either. Your blog /journal /journey has really helped me to understand what we will be facing. For that, I thank you. Sadness overwhelms me in your loss and my soon to be similar journey. May God Bleas you.

  27. Debbie Cordova says:

    Dear Patricia,
    My prayers are with you. It is such a difficult journey. We want to do the best for our precious babies always. I, too, decided against chemo or radiation for my Onyx. I have watched 3 family members go thru that and it was, in all cases, unsuccessful and agonizing. We lost our beloved Onyx on Oct. 10th. . We miss him so terribly. His last day was wonderful up until the end. He ate well and played ball in the backyard. . Chased the garden hose, which was one of his favorite things. Although he was having difficulty breathing thru his nose, the Lab in him just wouldn’t give up playing and chasing things! After playing, he took a little nap as I worked in my office. About an hour later he woke up and seemed fine. Then he got one of his bloody noses ( from one nostril). And, unfortunately, this one could not be stopped. He was a brave boy as our vet administered the euthanasia drugs. He left us so peacefully and in my arms. I am so sorry you and your precious furry friend are going thru this. All I can say is. . You have taken great care of your pet. . Shown love and compassion. I know you will continue to do that as you make the best decision for your pet. . An agonizing one for you, I know. God bless you both.
    Debbie

  28. Sandi says:

    Thank you for your brutal honesty, It must have been very difficult for you to have written this blog as I am in tears reading this. This is very helpful to read because our 10 yo lab just had a rhinoscopy 2 days ago. We are waiting for biopsy results, to determine what our options are for treatment. The tumor is 1 1/2 to 2 inches into the nasal cavity extending across both sides of his nose. What ever decision we make will be one of the most difficult. Thank you again for this blog, it is very informative.
    God Bless.

  29. Mary Kay Thompson says:

    Thank you so much for your heartbreakingly honest account of you and your dog’s journey with nasal cancer.

    Our sweet little dog was recently diagnosed after 3-4 months of dealing with an allergy diagnosis and treatment, then the bloody sneeze happened and we made an appt. with a specialty vet hospital, which revealed the nasal cancer. His right side is pretty much blocked and it breaks our hears.

    Thank you for your honest account of the radiation and chemo treatments. We’ve decided to not pursue the radiation, with our goal of keeping him as comfortable as possible. I’m not going to lie – I felt very guilty saying the words, “We’re not going to pursue radiation.” I feel like we’re letting our dog down, but then I don’t want him to go through all of that either.

    So, we will continue to pamper and spoil him, love him and hold him and cherish the short time we have with him.

    Again – thank you for sharing your journey and for the information about treatment as well.

    Hoping you’ve healed from your loss.

    All the best –

    Mary Kay Thompson

  30. Nancy Lewis says:

    I know your comments are addressed to Nunya’s people, but Nero’s mom offers some thoughts. Do not feel guilty, please. There is no good response to this other than to try to keep your beloved pet comfortable, whatever choice you make. We did a lot (my comments are up there somewhere) to treat Nero’s nasal tumor. We don’t regret it, but if faced with the same choice with our other dog, we likely wouldn’t do it again. Not because we love our other dog less, and not because we think what we did for Nero was wrong. It’s just that we couldn’t save him. We thought the IMRT might do it, but it didn’t. And my own opinion, the optimism of a wonderful veterinary oncologist notwithstanding, is that it doesn’t. Maybe someday, treatments will be more effective. So very sorry this has happened to you and your dog.

  31. Anne Timson says:

    My 11 1/2 year old Collie cross, Jess, was diagnosed with a nasal tumour at the end of March 2014: the oncologist here, in London UK, gave her a protocol of 3 ‘quad shots’ of RT one week apart (that is, 2 zaps in the morning and 2 zaps in the evening on the same day each week for three weeks). He said this was recommended because the length of time between treatments kept adverse reactions to a minimum.

    Immediately after the first treatment, all the clinical signs went. She had very few side affects, some baldness in the area but no burns. So, from the first dose for over ten months, she was well, happy and symptom free. Then we had a month when the sneezing and a little bleeding came back until finally last week, two weeks shy of a year since the end of the treatment, she had a collapse, couldn’t control her back legs and started having fits. We were told it was likely that the cancer was pressing on her brain. Apart from the traumatic last couple of hours before she was sedated, her post-RT experience was very good. When she was sedated, the vet explained to us the medication required to control the seizures vs the quality of life/length of time she would have left: and then, as everyone says, although I loved her so much and wanted her to live forever, I knew it was time.

    She was adored, we miss her every day. But, r/t was the right thing for us -especially given that this protocol minimised side effects.

  32. Kathy says:

    I just put my dog down after being diagnosed with a nasal tumor about a year and a half ago. She went through palliative radiation treatments and had a great year or so with us but the last few weeks things had changed. She had episodes where she would walk and pant and sometimes paw at her nose ….she started stumbling and walking into walls and doors as well. She used to love to go for walks and could not do that anymore. She could walk slowly around the yard but that is about it. I almost didn’t go through with it this afternoon because she had a pretty good morning. She sat outside with me on the deck. She walked around the yard a couple of times. But then she laid down and started twitching. She finally went back in the bedroom to be by herself. She used to NEVER want to be by herself but the last month or so she preferred to spend the evenings back in our bedroom away from noise. I am so torn. I wanted to spare her from a non-peaceful death with seizures etc. She had times where she seemed to feel okay but I think she was at the point where there were more bad times than good. I just feel so torn about the decision. I hope I did the right thing for her. I have put two other dogs down but they couldn’t even get up and walk. This was the first time I put a dog down that was still eating and walking. I feel awful.

    • Alison Loughlin says:

      I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. I know it never feels right to put them down, but from an outside perspective it sounds like you knew the right time had come. You did what you had to do to make sure your friend did not suffer and that is a gift to them, even though it is so difficult for you. You are a good person for loving them until the end.

      • Kathy says:

        Thank you so much for your kinds words. They have helped me. I just feel like i am dying inside. Thank you for taking the time to write that to me. Puppers was so precious to me and I just want to know I did the right thing for her.

      • LINDA KERAN LOU says:

        hi i just wanted to say how wonderful you both are trying to save your little fur baby like i am trying to do with mine , your story was so so sad i couldn’t stop crying take care x

  33. Carole says:

    I am so pleased to have found this as I am going through this right now with my beloved Pepsi.
    Reading all the reports helps so much as sometimes I feel like I am going mad agonising over when to call the vet for that final visit.
    Thank you to all of the contributors, please know that reporting your stories of your beloved furry children helps others who are there right now.
    Thank you

  34. Marge says:

    Thank you for your story We put our 14 year old Pepper to sleep yesterday. We noticed 5 weeks ago that she had started to bleed from her nose. She had been sneezing a lot but no blood before this. We brought her to the vets because she started to have a bad head twitch. the vet gave her some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory’s. He said after this that he would not do x-rays because it might kill her to sedate her. I knew right there that he was sure it was cancer. We kept her comfortable with some pain killers, but yesterday her head twitch came back worse and her breathing was very bad. So we did the only thing that we could. We put her to sleep. Hardest thing that we could do.

  35. Junetta Dunn says:

    Wonderful journal and I was literally crying at the end…I was so expecting for your baby to live….I was searching all over trying to find something similar to what is going on with my baby…her name is Luna…she’s a little over two years old…Blue and white female pit bull….so friendly and loving….never met a stranger….shakes hands all the time….loves all chew toys and loves to roll around….a few months back she started breathing funny, snorting and what not…I thought to myself, she’s allergic to something I guess…then, the bloody noses started, crusty nose, constantly draining snot and then the bloody sneezes….the net day, face swollen so bad that her left eye was completely shut….off the vet we went….he ran no test, said he couldn’t do anything for her and referred to a specialist that is far away….he did give her antibiotics and cortisone…swelling went down but the funny snorting breathing stayed……I can’t take her to any expensive specialist to TRY and save her….so here I am, sad all over again because I think I’m gonna have to put her down…..smh….I’m glad I came across this story and sad too that I came across this story….

  36. Colin says:

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Our 6 year old German Shepherd, Bella, was recently diagnosed with a nasal carcinoma blocking one half of her nose and sinuses. She is having trouble sleeping outside of her bed, but is otherwise still active, playful, and has an appetite.

    It started a few months ago with the issues anyone with a pet who has gone through this disease is now familiar with: reverse sneezing, nosebleeds, and snoring/difficulty sleeping.

    Recently we decided to get a CT scan to see what the issue was and what our options were for treatment, and it revealed a mass obstructing the right side of her snout leading back to her sinuses. We are devastated. The prognosis from our vet was 6-12 months with radiation therapy. Without…it depends on her quality of life.

    Right now she is still active, goes on walks, drinks, has an appetite and seems to be happy, but knowing now that she has this terrible disease I realize that the good days are numbered. We are looking into alternative treatments like neoplasene and dosing her with supplements, but given what I now know and have read from others, I feel like we are only delaying the inevitable. I don’t know when we will need to make the decision to put her to sleep, but I am sure that she will let us know.

    I thank everyone for sharing their stories and experiences, it helps to know that we aren’t alone, and at the same time I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.

    With hope for all who encounter this,
    Colin

  37. Susan says:

    Our dear dog (at 14 now 15), terrier mix, Sammie, was diagnosed December 2014 with a nasal tumor via a CT scan. We were told it was squamous cell carcinoma. He was given 2 months to live if we did nothing. The specialist offered 5 months if we did palliative radiation. We opted for nothing and started him on Piroxicam. He also was experiencing the start of kidney failure so we were told to use a reduced dose (every other day). The Piroxicam was amazing as it is an anti-inflammatory so he just felt better all the way around. We opted to give it to him everyday because of the positive response. It almost completely eliminated any nasal discharge.

    It is now Nov 2015. His kidney disease has progressed but he is otherwise doing wonderfully well. He takes long walks, sleeps well, and eats well. There seems to be no outward sign of his tumor. He has an eye issue where bright light seems to bother him. He has anemia issues that they are guessing are tumor related. We feel his is too old to put back under for another CT scan and are so grateful for all the time we have had. We have not bad breathing issues and only one or two small bloody nose incidents in the last year, nothing recent. I know there are studies about the benefit of Piroxicam on canine bladder cancer but I think it has played a significant roll in extending his life and making it a very much a quality life.

  38. LINDA KERAN LOU says:

    HI SO SO SORRY FOR ANY ONE GOING THROUGH THIS TERRIBLE DISEASE WITH THERE BABYS , me to my little one was diagnosed with nasal cancer of the left sinus she had biopsy and scan to find out what her reverse sneezing was due to , then she had tumour removed then radio therapy called brachytherapy they gave her 4 sessions im not sure why only 4 ? Only hoping it was because she didn’t need any more the vet clinic did not give me any meds after her radio after a week her nos was blocked with mucus they then gave me antibiotic and another med to loosed any dry mucus in her nose so it can come out more easily that was for 5 days the antibiotic was for 12 days she has just finished the antibiotic nose looks clear fingers crossed , what i wanted to ask any one is is it usually that after the radio that we should give her chemotherapy ? Its just the vet first suggested it but when i asked him will this prolong her life he said its not proven to and when i asked him would you go get the chemo if it was your dog he said NO , im just confused i know nasal cancer can not be cured but after first getting her head opened to get to tumour out with about 25 stiches down her face which now have healed then the brachytherapy were she was put out to have the therapy done then getting through that i really need to ask if she does not have chemo will it shorten her life hear with us does an,y one no ? MY BABY IS 12 she doesn’t seem in pain at this time she is eating playing and she is on the special home cooked diet low carb high protein , any advice would be appreciated, my other problem is im English and i live in France so the language can be a problem , i just want to do the best for my little girl im preying for all of you that are going through this terrible dise

  39. LINDA KERAN LOU says:

    sorry didnt mean to sign off then yes preying for you all with your little furkids hoping one day there will be a cure , thank you everyone my heart breaks for each and every one of you x

  40. Rafael says:

    I just came across your post today and read your entire story. My 8 year old chihuahua / Jack Russell mix Lupita has also been diagnosed with an squamous cell carcinoma affecting g her left nasal passages. It all started in November, I was on a business trip and my wife told me she was complaining and the vet thought it was something related to her teeth so he extracted two I think. When they extracted them they didn’t liked the tissue so they performed a biopsy and then we had the scc diagnostic. She had surgery to remove the tumor around Christmas and we thought that would be the end of it. I researched online and found that radiotherapy is the most effective treatment for the type of cancer, unfortunately where I live (Peru) there is no radiation service offered for dogs. I researched on Chemo and went through a CT scan around mid January this year. The results were not good, the cancer is already occupying a big part of one of her nostrils and is just growing. I talked with her vet, he has been her vet since she was a pup. We agreed to not let her suffer unnecessary pain and to just make her as comfortable as possible during the time she had left. But as everyone here knows its hard to tell when to let our beloved friends go. Right now she is still sleeping but she does wake up every once in a while for shortness of breath. During the day she breathes fine and has learned also how to do it though her mouth. I know that one of these days I will need to take the decision and sincerely hope I am not making her suffer, she doesn’t need to go through that but you never know when they are in pain and she is extremely determined and strong. She still enjoys her walks but I do have to carry her back. I am giving here turmeric now and will start with yunan baio next week. I know that one day she will quickly show a lot more signs like the ones described here and I would need to make a quick decision so she doesn’t suffer but hope to enjoy her time with us as much as possible.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us and for letting us feel like we are not alone going through this awful disease with our loved furry friends.

  41. Sandra n says:

    Hi my Jack is 9-1/2 mixed Shepard diagnosed with nasal tumor 3 weeks ago, started first with lite pink nose discharge, after treatment for infection, 2 weeks latter took him to Uga animal hospital, he was scanned and diagnosed. His tumor is already invaded into his brain! I was shocked!! He’s been healthy and never any problems, I cried over and over!! They offered radiation, said he’d get about 4-6 months maybe with out 1-3 monthes, I choose to let him be, I watched my mom and my sister have radiation it burnt both and added only 4 monthes of misery to both! My poor Jack is only eating a handful a day can’t lay his head down and breath , trying to decide if he’s ready to go or not! So hard!! I don’t want him to go through a seizure while I’m working and not being with him, gonna have to make this heart ach decision if he doesn’t start back eating! He’s on 2 Valium, one reymdyle, a tremadol 2xsa day! It’s so hard to know when or how hes feeling ????

  42. Nancy Lewis says:

    My heart goes out to you. We have been there. You may want to consider calling a hospice vet if there is one in your area. They can help with that most difficult decision. That’s what we did when we needed help deciding when to let our beloved Nero go. I am so sorry.

  43. Michelle says:

    My dog has nasal cancer, it started with a lump on top of her nose in October 2015. Took her to the vet for X-Ray, which the Veterinarian told me that she has nose cancer, early stage and also suggested to do a laser surgery to remove the lump, I was told that is a difficult surgery especially on her nasal, it might not heal well. I took her to my previous dog oncologist to seek a second opinion, which the oncologist provides the antibiotics, less than 3 days the lump disappear. She was in good health for almost 6 months, she started to sneeze a little, gradually a little bit more than usual, then blood oozes out from one of her nasal passages, was using towel soaks in ice water to stop the bleeding, luckily it helps. I took her to another hospital as the oncologist suggested to do an MRI, which we did. The results was heartbreaking, she has nasal cancer, which already blocked one of her nasal passages, have to be prepared that it will spread to the other passage, eventually blocked both passages. I was told that only radiation can help to kill the cancer, unfortunately, Malaysia does not have these facilities, only chemotherapy. We went through the 1st chemotherapy, the couple of days, she seems to look OK, even though the bleeding didn’t stop, as I was told by the oncologist that it would. She was supposed to do her 2nd Chemotherapy, her blood results show that she’s anemic, other minor complications. Now she’s on liver supplement, Iron supplement, multivitamins, vasolamin and Vitamin K, stop her nasal bleeding. Sad to say, her the other nose started to bleed,she still has a huge appetite, enjoy her daily walks. Able to pee and defecate by herself. Breathing is getting shallow, at times, choking cough, red droopy eyes, shows that she did not sleep well. I, would like to keep on fighting with her, but she does look extremely tired, which is devastating, watching her suffer. Please, can someone advise me, what I suppose or can do for her. I couldn’t bring myself to put her to sleep like I did with my previous dog, which was on her final stage of bone cancer. Am I am being selfish to prolong her suffering.

    • Sarah Parra says:

      Michelle, I am so sorry you are going through this. We lost our Allie a little over 3 years ago to this horrible disease, so I know what you are going through. I just want to give you reassurance that you are not being selfish, but you should also not second guess yourself when you decide the time is right to say goodbye. In our case, Allie was also still eating well, could walk with no problem, and actually mostly appeared totally fine except this horrible bleeding and open sore between her eyes where the tumor had actually broken through the top of her snout. It was absolutely awful, but she acted like she didn’t even notice it. When it got to where we couldn’t adequately bandage it anymore, and it was constantly bleeding even with changing the bandage multiple times a day, we knew it was time to let her go. As others have said, and as I know you have experienced, it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Allie gave us a gift in that on her last day, she started having trouble breathing, and was definitely wearing down, even though she was still jumping to catch treats just a couple hours before we went to the vet. Seeing her on that day I know we made the right choice, but up until that point I was constantly questioning if we were doing the right thing. We had tried radiation and a few different kinds of chemotherapy, but they could not stop this awful cancer. We also did try to use Yunnan Baiyao since her first nosebleed (only a few months before she died), but it never seemed to actually do anything, even though I have heard other say it works wonders. It sounds like you are doing absolutely everything you can for your baby, so just do what you think is right. It breaks my heart that anyone has to go through this.

  44. Michelle says:

    I forgot to mention that she was on Doxycycline and Piroxicam that makes her extremely dizzy and vomited a lot. Loss of appetite, which I replace with Vasolamin and Vitamin K

  45. Debbie Cordova says:

    Dear Michelle,
    I am so sorry to hear about your dog. It’s been almost 2 yrs since we lost our precious Onyx and we think of him every day. I can only say that for us, we just listened to him. I know that sounds crazy but as long as he was eating and wagging his tail we did everything to make him comfortable including a humidifier which seemed to soothe him. We live in the desert southwest so it’s very dry here. You probably have adequate moisture there in Malaysia. When Onyx began to show signs that he was suffering we made the decision to put him to sleep. It was the most difficult decision we’ve ever made and the next morning when I was going to take him to the vet I began to second guess myself because I loved him so much. I just didn’t think I could do it. At that moment he began to bleed profusely from his nose and I had to get help to transport him to the vet. My husband came from work and met me there. We held him as they administered the medication and he left us so very gently and peacefully. I realized that it was the most loving thing we could do. We had probably kept him with us a bit longer than we should have. They are our beloved friends and their unconditional love is something that is very hard to live without but they are in our care and trust us to do what is best for them until the very end. My prayers are with you as you make this difficult decision, I wish I could provide a list helpful hints or medication that would help but the truth is that it is an insidious disease and we can only care for them, love them and let them go before they suffer unnecessarily. Michelle, it IS NOT selfish to want to keep her with you. Don’t let anyone make you feel that way. You simply love her with all your heart. I am hurting inside for what you are facing and my prayers are with you. I know that when you are able to let her go she will be at peace and out of pain and without nausea. I pray that gives you peace. Sounds like you have been an amazing “mama” and have done everything and more for her. God bless you

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Debbie,

      Many thanks for your kind thoughts and soothing words. I could not help myself at the office, bawling my eyes out. The decision that you have to make for Onyx, was devastating. It took me a lot of courage to let my baby go, I am not sure if I can go through the same thing, the second time, it’s killing me inside. I will try one last treatment, that I’ve heard and read that it might help her nose bleeds decrease, calms down her breathing. I am praying and hoping that Yunnan Bai Yo, tablets, can able to save and extend her life. If is not working, I will need to make decision and do what is best for Angel. Thank you once again for your undivided time to reply to me.

      Kind Regards,Michelle

  46. Nancy Lewis says:

    So terribly sorry, Michelle. Two years ago today, we lost our precious Nero to this horrible disease. We had a hospice vet help us decide when the time had come. He worked for an animal end of life company called Lap of Love. You can go on their website to see the guidance they provide on how to know whether your dog is suffering and when euthanasia becomes the kindest thing to do. My heart goes out to you and your dog.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you so much for your reply and information. I, went through the website, as you recommended, is amazing. I wish, Malaysia has these facilities, to make the dogs feel comfortable, with the family around, besides him to make his last journey.

      It was devastating when I have to let my baby go, and I am not sure, if I can make the same decision, the second time.

      I am truly, deeply sorry to hear that your precious Nero, lost to the same insidious disease. I can feel your pain, my heart goes to you and family. Thank you once again for the encouragement website, I will be well prepare for Angel journey when her time comes.

      Kind Regards, Michelle

  47. Michelle says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Many thanks for sharing your loss, I believed is very much difficult for you to write to me, reminding you, Allie painful time, for this, I am thoroughly grateful. You are a wonderful person, a fantastic mom, Allie is so lucky to have you besides her till the end of her journey.

    Angel, just started her 2nd day full course with Yunnan Bai Yao, is too early for me to give up on her last hope. I know, is sounds like I have lost my head, It seems to help to decrease her nose bleeding but her eyes, is still very much droopy, I know she did not sleep enough as she wakes up almost every hour or two. I, moved to the living room, couple of months ago, to spend quality time, together. Thank you so much again for sharing with us, what I needed to do to prevent her from tremendous pain, If she shows any sign of difficulties, I will do what is best for her.

    Kind Regards,Michelle

  48. Sarah Parra says:

    No, you don’t sound like you have lost your head! I know how you are feeling, you have to try everything because you never know what could happen. Cherish your time with Angel, I know she appreciates everything you are doing for her.

  49. Andy says:

    So sorry about Nunya and for everyone who’s lost their dear dog friends to nasal cancer.

    Our almost-14-year-old beagle Lucy was diagnosed almost 2 months ago with nasal cancer. At this point her nasal cavities are blocked to the point where she’s a true “Snuffleupagus”. We decided not to go the radiation route. She’s on tramadol and gabapentin and low-dose prednisone to keep swelling to a minimum. She’s still her happy self and so as long as she’s comfortable and happy doing things she likes to do we’ll continue on. Nights are toughest as it’s getting harder for her to sleep. Would appreciate any advice on how best to manage through this stage and what to expect from here. Hopefully not causing anyone to relive painful memories.

    • Andy says:

      We had to put Lucy down this weekend. In the event sharing our experiences can help others dealing with dog nasal cancer, here’s Lucy’s story.

      Around Oct 1, 2016, our beagle Lucy seemed to have pinkeye. It seemed funny at the time, because our son had just gotten over pinkeye and we joked he gave it to Lucy. But within a week, our son pointed out that Lucy’s eye seemed to be protruding a little. And we noticed her third eyelid would sometimes not fully recede. So we researched things that cause a dog’s eye to protrude and were concerned when we saw nasal and occipital cancers as common causes. But Lucy was 13 years old and we definitely couldn’t rule out cancer. We scheduled a dog ophthalmologist (Dr. Finn in Pittsburgh PA is excellent!).

      Dr. Finn confirmed our fears. It was likely either nasal or occipital cancer. And based on the location, it would be almost impossible to get at without removing the eye just to get a grip on what it was. We assumed it was cancer (and it turned out to be), and given Lucy’s age, we decided to try and slow the progress of the cancer but not to remove the eye and pursue aggressive cancer treatment. That’d be hard on a dog going on 14 years old. So in addition to Dasuquin for arthritis (Lucy had been on that for joint soreness the past year), we added Tramadol for pain, twice a day. And we started to experiment with Prednisone, a steroid, to try and reduce swelling around the cancerous growth. We also used Terramycin antibiotic gel in Lucy’s protruding eye to try and avert infection along with normal eye lubrication drops.

      By Nov 1, Lucy was sniffling all of the time. While Lucy’s right eye continued to grow more protruded, Lucy could still see out of it. And because of the snuffles, we called her Ms. Snuffleupagus for the noises she started to make. Come Thanksgiving time, the snuffling started to make it hard for Lucy to breathe and in early December, we began to worry that she simply wouldn’t be able to breathe once her nasal passages became completely blocked by what was clearly nasal cancer. And Lucy would sometimes panic as she began to pant through her mouth as she was learning to breathe solely through her mouth. We added Gabapentin once a day to keep Lucy from getting too anxious. Also by early December, Lucy was completely blind in her protruded right eye, pushed out by the growing tumor in her right nasal cavity.

      Around mid-December, Lucy stopped struggling to try and force air through her nose and became comfortable (as comfortable as a beagle in the situation can be) breathing through her mouth. She would make tiny sucking noises as she cracked her mouth to inhale and then sometimes her jowls would flap as she exhaled through her mouth. What became really hard was sleeping at night. She would fall asleep with the weight of the head on her chin and then panic and lift her head to open her mouth to inhale. We learned to lay Lucy on her side at the edge of a bed with her jaw at the edge of the bed so she could easily leave her mouth slightly ajar to inhale.

      Lucy went for about a month in this mode. The cancer had spread from her right nasal passage into her left. Her nasal passages were 100% blocked by tumors from mid-December to mid-January. Her right eye continued to be pushed out further and further and come early January, she could not recede her third eyelid in her right eye and we became concerned about infection. And Lucy stopped letting us put a the Terramycin gel in her eyes, so we shifted to (very expensive) Ofloxacin antibiotic drops (much easier to administer than the antibiotic gel ointment) along with Flurbiprofen for eye pain. We also increased Tramadol to 3 times a day for pain and went to max Prednisone steroid every day to try and reduce tumor swelling as much as possible. We noticed tumors forming around Lucy’s throat but they were small and didn’t seem to bother her or affect her breathing.

      When we put Lucy on steroids, we noticed that she was thirstier and we had to take her out to pee frequently. Come early January, when we maxed out her steroids, we had to take her out once every hour or risk a puddle somewhere. By mid-January, we had to take her out in the middle of the night and we had diapers on her in bed. But come Friday January 13, we noticed something wrong. Her left eye appeared fully functional, but we noticed she was struggling to see through it (she was already completely blind in her right eye). Within 24 hours, she was nearly completely blind in her left eye and she seemed anxious beyond the blindness like something else was going on in her mind. We had to put food in her mouth…she could not see or smell it. And then that night, Lucy had convulsions for about a half a minute and she was foaming from her mouth.

      When she came to, Lucy was different. She was now completely blind. And she was very anxious. She could hear our voices and that was the only thing that seemed to calm her. And she seemed to have lost motor skills. Walking was a struggle and she walked with her front and rear legs at an odd angle to the direction of her walk. And she was panicked from being completely blind and running into walls. We could not calm her down. Within minutes of recovering from the convulsions, we decided her quality of life had receded and it was time and in the middle of the night took her to a vet hospital to put her down.

      Lucy was well-tempered dog through the entire ordeal. She always had character and attitude and lost none of it even to the last night. In the end, we believe we made the right decision for us and Lucy, given her age, to not aggressively try to extend her life with radiation and chemo. From the time we noticed the eye starting to protrude and her snuffling, to the time nasal cancer took her life was 105 days. Her quality of life through most of it was good. Learning to breathe through the mouth was difficult for Lucy but after a couple weeks she figured it out. Dealing with the frequent trips outside and the occasional puddles in the house was challenging at times. But we wouldn’t change how things played out and were happy to have the last 3 months with Lucy before she succumbed to nasal cancer.

      While every circumstance and dog is different, hopefully a glimpse of our experience with our beagle and her nasal cancer will help others who have to face similar situations.

  50. Nancy Lewis says:

    So very sorry Lucy and you are going through this. In my experience, a hospice vet really helped. It took a burden off of us to have someone be really focused on our beloved Nero at the end and help us do what was best for him. My heart goes out to both Lucy and you.

  51. Nancy Lewis says:

    So sorry for you and your family. It sounds like you gave Lucy the best care possible under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I’m sure she knew until her last second how much she was loved.

  52. Tracy says:

    I just read your post. I think its wonderful that you did everything you possibly could for her. We just had our 9 year old Australian Shepherd put down on Monday with sinus cancer. He woke up completely blind that day. He was misdiagnosed twice, once with allergies and second time abcessed tooth. He did improve for a couple of weks after the allergy diagnosis so we thought that was it. There was nasal discharge but it was clear and watery, never any blood and the yellow snotty discharge didnt appear until after his second diagnosis of a tooth, after which they prescribed painkillers and antibiotics and scheduled xrays and surgery same day. That was the day he woke up blind. It broke my heart to watch him that day and when they gave us the cancer diagnosis they didn’t he didnt have much time. We chose to put him down right away because he was in pain and miserable when he couldn’t see or smell. I was upset and not thinking clearly when they gave me the news and have spent the 3 days searching the internet, worried there was something i could have done but i didnt ask enough questions or talk to the right vet. I would have paid anything to fix him and signed a paper when we dropped him off at vet that said so. Thank you for this blog, it helped me to see putting him down right away was the right decision for us. You put my mind at ease and now i can try to heal so thank you from the bottom of of heart.

    • Sarah Parra says:

      Tracy, just another reassurance that you did the right thing for your baby. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, especially getting misdiagnosed twice. My dog Allie died of nasal cancer almost 4 years ago, and it still breaks my heart every time I get a notification of someone else posting their story in the comments on this blog. The sinus and nasal cavity seems to be a particularly nasty type and location for cancer, with a horrible prognosis even if you get the diagnosis correct on the first try. It’s so hard to make the decision to say goodbye, but in this case it’s definitely the most loving thing to do.

  53. Cathy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Nunya’s journal. I sit here and cry with Copper, one of the dachshunds. We have had quite the time with them, losing his daddy at the beginning of the year. His mother and sister are also beside me. All have health problems. Copper has nasal cancer. We did not go through the treatments, as our vet told us that it would probably not make a difference. His was quite progressed, and was aggressive. We would spend time going back and forth to the doctors only to lose him in less than a few months to a year. It is also reoccuring as you have seen. We have been treating symptoms and he has been taking prednisone and benadryl, but this last week, he has been unable to get comfortable. I would do anything for any of them. Last night after I got back from church, he wanted to ride. I put him in the truck, but he didn’t enjoy it like he used to. He mostly laid in my lap not lifting his head to look out the window. He also didn’t put up a fight to go in the other vehicles like he use to. I picked him up and carried him back in the house. Last night was another bad night. Not comfortable, struggling to breathe. I am assuming with the bulge over his eye and in the front starting down his snout, that it has grown into these areas as well. He is definitely uncomfortable. I am asking my family to help make some decisions because I can’t bear to watch him. I know that he is suffering. I am calling the vet this morning to see if they think there is also inflammation causing issues. I just want him comfortable.

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