A Heartbreaking Decision

Bailey pulls my kids in the sled in the winter. Here she and I are bringing a few groceries home from town.
Bailey pulls my kids in the sled in the winter. Here she and I are bringing a few groceries home from town.

Bailey’s last test came back. Bad news first: the cancer is a hystiocytic sarcoma, which is about the worst case for a soft tissue mass. It’s an extremely nasty, aggressive disease. However, there is no trace of cancer in the lymph node that was only an inch away. This is excellent news. It means there’s a good chance an amputation can be curative. Not as good a chance as if the mass had been a less aggressive type, but good nonetheless because it doesn’t seem to have spread.

So that left me with a more difficult decision than I anticipated. Even though the cancer hasn’t visibly migrated, the type of cancer brings our chances of a cure down. So what’s best for Bailey? Should I just let her go and lose her within the year for sure? Or do I take her leg even though there’s a chance it won’t cure her? What a choice!

I discussed it with several friends and came to the decision I think I knew I’d arrive at all along. Bailey’s young, she’s strong, she loves life. Her joints are in great shape. Aside from our daily walks, she’s really not an overly active dog. She does love to swim, and the occasional squirrel can entice her to give chase. But at home, her favorite thing to do is just lie beside us and be our dog. Even on three legs, she can still do all these things well. I’m going to give her the chance to live.

Now for the problem of cost. The specialist gave me an original quote of $3,500 for the amputation. Yikes! From what I’ve seen online, I expected somewhere between $1,200-$2,000. So I phoned my own vet. Unfortunately, her practice isn’t set up for such a major undertaking. A little disheartened, I prayed, then I got out the phone book. My first call–to another local vet–landed me a quote of just $800! Thank you, God!

So surgery is set for next week Thursday. I’ve cleared my schedule for the following few days, ordered a harness with a sturdy handle to assist her, and even dug out the air mattress so I can crash beside her for the first couple nights. In the meantime, I feel like I’m living in a bad dream. This was all so sudden that it doesn’t seem real. But we’re tough, Bailey and I. We’ll cope just fine. We’ll keep on praying. And we’ll smile when it’s over. I feel confident I’m making the right decision.

18 thoughts on “A Heartbreaking Decision

  1. You’re making the right decision, Michelle–clearly. Good for you for continuing to tough it out. Love from Tim & Vivian

  2. Be at peace with your decision, you are doing what is best for Bailey. You will be amazed at what she’ll be able to do on three legs. I’ll tell Erik. He’s been thinking of your family and this struggle. I banned him from the computer today – he’s went WAY over the quota we agreed upon for posts in a week. I told him he had to go play like a kid 😉 I’m sure he’ll be commenting tomorrow.

  3. I wish all the best for you and Bailey. Someone oonce told me, “There is no right or wrong decision. You make the decison and then you make it right.” This has been a tough time for you but I know you will see it through. Sending hugs your way. XO

  4. I saw the title of this post and was worried that it was going to be very bad news. I think the amputation will be fine. Once they figure it out, I’ve seen some three legged dogs that can really run. I’m sure this will be the case for Bailey. And glad to hear you found a good deal. $3500? Whew. That would’ve made it a tougher decision. Not that I necessarily fall into the same boat as your husband, but that’s a lot of money. Will be watching for updates. Take care.

    Paul

    1. Paul, your initial reaction made me back up a minute and remember this isn’t the end of the world. I’ve been so overwhelmed by this that it feels like it. I know she’s not a person, but she’s like a kid. And I do know she’ll be fine.

      Yeah, I about croaked when I heard the “specialist’s” price. That would definitely strain the budget. But I had a pretty good idea that was inflated. Thanks for the well wishes.

  5. You made the right decision because it’s the one you made. Everything will work out–just look at the blessing you got with the lower cost. Bailey is lucky to have you.

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