To many, the word cancer conveys a sense of darkness—and hopelessness. This is true regardless of whether the patient is a human family member or your pet. Also, all the terminology of cancer and its treatment conjures up images of horror and fear for those faced with making difficult decisions. There are many reasons why cancer is being treated more and more commonly including increased prevalence, awareness of cancer treatments, and because of the intense love many of us share with our pets.
Cancer is indeed becoming more common in our world. Many are surprised to learn that cancer is the number one natural cause of death in pets of all ages. It accounts for almost 50% of the deaths of older pets annually.
Your veterinarian is a key resource to lead you to the best treatments for your pet. Angiostatin, endostatin, Herceptin, gene therapy, metalloproteinase inhibitors, laser surgery, and steriotactically delivered radiation therapy have become topics of daily conversation. Many people are aware of these amazing advances in cancer care for people. Understandably, these same people search for the same potential for cure and control for their pets. Your veterinarian has amazing resources to ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.
Perhaps the best reason to think about caring for your pet with cancer is the most difficult to completely explain. Many people are willing to seek out treatment for their pet with cancer because they have often shared a decade or more of experiences. Regardless of how much time you have spent with your pet, most know that these friends give provide unconditional love through triumphs and tragedies. Therefore, caring for your best friend to enhance the quality of life is often perceived as a great gift of love in exchange for this love, loyalty, and affection.
The First Steps
Cancer, the word is frightening in part because there are so many myths and misperceptions about cancer. However, almost all pets with cancer can be helped. Empowering yourself with appropriate information allows you to begin the process of finding ways you can join with your veterinary health care team to help your best friend. Your pet not only shares your home, your life, and your experiences but also your heart. Seeking the most appropriate care will allow you to spend as much time as possible with your special friend.
Empower Yourself with Information
You can defeat the darkness of cancer with knowledge. Work with your veterinary health care team to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatment. Be proactive. Ask questions and obtain resources to tear away the many misconceptions about cancer and cancer therapies. Tackling the emotional aspects of cancer can enhance your ability to think clearly, make decisions, and begin to find the hope and opportunities that lie before you as you deal with your pet’s cancer.
Pick a Good Team
As your pet’s primary caregiver, you are in the best position to know and meet your pet’s needs and desires. Your greatest task is to find a veterinary health care team that is experienced in cancer care and committed to working with you as a member of that team. Once the right team is forged, everyone can provide truly compassionate care. Compassionate care requires that your pet is as free as possible from the adverse effects that may be associated with cancer and cancer care. This includes freedom from pain, nausea, and starvation. Ask your veterinary health care team about what supportive care measures can be undertaken to enhance the quality of your pet’s life.
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A lot of questions may be going through your mind, and we are here to answer them for you.
Below is a printable PDF with questions you can discuss with your veterinarian healthcare team.
Click here for questions to ask your healthcare veterinarian team