Nunya was diagnosed with nasal cancer in September 2012. She had been sneezing consistently for a few months, but we thought it was due to allergies. It was not until Nunya had a major nosebleed one night that we learned cancer was a possibility. Upon a CT scan and biopsy confirming our fears that she had a large, cancerous tumor, we set out to find the best treatment options possible and do whatever we could to provide her relief.
Since Nunya was otherwise healthy, we decided to aggressively treat the tumor with radiation/tomotherapy. This gave us the best option of eradicating the tumor and getting rid of the cancer. Before we started the treatment, we were told that the average dog will live between 9 and 15 months after receiving radiation. If we did not pursue radiation and instead went with palliative care, her life expectancy would be approximately 2 months.
Nunya did well overall with her radiation/tomotherapy treatments. She had side effects that were unpleasant, including radiation skin burns, lethargy, and loss of appetite. These were temporary though and largely had subsided a few weeks after treatment finished. Radiation successfully got rid of almost all of the tumor (with only trace amounts possibly remaining). Nunya had about 7 good months of remission.
Unfortunately the tumor did grow back, and it was on the shorter end of the anticipated timeline for relapse. We had hoped she would have two years cancer-free, but it was not to be. The second time around the tumor grew aggressively fast. We tried different chemotherapy options to try to reduce it but had minimal, if any, success. The day finally came when we were down to two options – do another round of radiation treatment or give pain medication to make her comfortable. Given the speed of the growth and the likelihood of miserable radiation side effects, we opted not to do a second radiation dose. Nunya’s health rapidly declined over a few short days, and we had to make the decision to put her to sleep on August 6, 2013.
Nunya lived for 11 months after she was initially diagnosed with cancer. While we wish she could have had longer, we feel we pursued the right course of treatment for her and are glad for the extra months we were able to have with her. The whole process was a new experience for us, and we learned a lot about canine cancer and treatment options. We wanted to write down our experiences to hopefully help others who find themselves in the unfortunate situation, and we hope that maybe our experience will be either helpful or informative to someone else trying to find out more about nasal cancer.