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Our 11 year old bitch Luna had blood tests on Friday as she was drinking and urinating quite a lot. Unfortunately the blood tests revealed that her calcium levels are above normal (7-12 is the normal range, apparently, and she had a reading of 13.6). As she had anal sac adenocarcinoma almost two years ago (resulting in the surgical removal of the anal gland), the vet thinks it will almost certainly be related to the return of the cancer. She describes it as paraneoplastic syndrome, and didn't advocate any further treatment... meaning we have to watch Luna deteriorate as her calcium levels rise and the cancer grows.
I can't stand the feeling that she's being "written off". While we were only given three months as a prognosis when the initial tumour was discovered nearly two years ago, it's still come as such a shock. We thought she'd beaten it. Perhaps it is better not to know where it has spread to, but I feel we know nothing about what is going on with her. Does she have a tumour in the other anal sac? Could it be removed... and would or should we put her through that since it's a ghastly operation, and there is no guarantee that this very aggressive cancer hasn't spread into her spine, lungs or brain? Chemo and radiotherapy are out - even if it was agreed to (the vet said it wasn't an option at this stage), we wouldn't but her through those. Dialysis was mentioned as a way of getting her calcium levels down, but the vet hasn't had much success with that, and Luna is so petrified of going to the vet that I don't think spending 4 hours on a drip every few weeks would be fair. We don't want her last weeks or months (if we are lucky) being purgatory for her. There is another test that could be done to confirm the raised calcium is being caused by cancer, but the vet didn't feel there was much point. I understand it involves taking more bloods using a special kit sent up from a lab in Birmingham, and then they have to be sent by courier down to Birmingham (within a certain time frame). Then again, from what I've read, the other possible causes of hypercalcemia are parathyroid related or bone disease, neither of which have non-evasive treatments or good outcomes.
At the moment she is very happy - besides the excessive drinking and urinating, you wouldn't know there was anything wrong with her. Some of the other symptoms of paraneoplastic syndrome and hypercalcemia make of very unpleasant reading (lack of appetite, vomiting, decreased gastrointestinal function, constipation, confusion, depression, bladder stones, anemia) but she has none of those. Her appetite is very healthy indeed, she's positively delighted to get out on her walks in the stubble fields, and still enjoys a good game. Perhaps that's in part down to the daily dose of Metacam she gets for her arthritis! Also, the vet said that all of her other blood results were good, including her kidney function. So at the moment her body is coping pretty well with the rise in calcium, and the Metacam.
I don't know what I am asking for, but if anyone has any advice, from homeopathic remedies that might help to support her, to ideas for reducing calcium, or anything else for that matter. At the moment we aren't even sure how excessive the 13.6 calcium reading is, or how quickly it might rise, or whether we should get Luna's bloods checked every few weeks. Nor do we know what we might do to reduce the risk of dehydration as this gets worse. So all comments and advice are much appreciated.
I am sorry to hear your sad news. We can all understand your loss and feel your pain because we have felt it ourselves. I am sure it is the same for other breed owners but with Setters, they are so 'full of life', maybe it just seems worse. What is more telling is how our different dogs mark the eras of our own lives and that is sometimes more poignant.
I have said it many time before and I will repeat it here, my favorite definition of heaven is that when you get there, all your dogs come to greet you. For me, all my boys together would most assuredly be Heaven.