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A Veterinarian’s Personal Perspective: Making Tough Decisions for Our Pets Pt. 3

June 3, 2011

This past week has all but made my decision for me. Tsisdu has had some good days and some not so good on the high dose of steroids we started at the oncologist’s office. Her enlarged nodes in the area beneath her jaw became soft and swollen for a couple of days, and then returned to their original state. Tsisdu is quieter now, but she still manages to chase the squirrel out of the yard and incite a major riot over the lawn guy “invading” the yard. The rest of the time she sleeps close to me and goes out frequently for potty breaks, a side effect of the cortisone.

I called the oncologist’s office on Day 10 of the steroids to let them know that I had decided not to start the chemo. I think I had hoped to find understanding there, even if it was just from the vet tech, but I only encountered a matter of fact acceptance of my decision, no more, no less. I probably should have known that would be the case, but something in me needed to hear something more. I realize now that the something more has to come from within me.

It seems as though the combination of professional training and cultural indoctrination I have experienced leads me to question choosing this path, even though I know it’s the right decision for Tsisdu. I suspect that’s because we are taught to never give up, to do everything that can be done medically and to fight against death with all our being, all our resources, all our emotional and spiritual energy. There is little room in our culture for quiet acceptance of the inevitability of death, much less the choice to face it willingly. Such decisions are met with disapproval or pity, as if choosing to decline treatment is a decision that would only be made by someone intent on neglecting a loved one or by someone ignorant or uneducated. I am neither, and yet I fight internally against the feeling of helplessness in the face of Tsisdu’s cancer and the knowledge that more can be done.

I understand why we reach out to medical and veterinary professionals for help with our decision making. But, at the end of the day, it’s about Tsisdu. She cannot speak for herself and that means I have to be her voice, even in the face of disapproval or my own internal conflict. I have spoken for her today and now, I choose peace. Each day will bring its own challenges, but I will take them one at a time and make the most of each day we have together.

A series of guest posts by: Delana Taylor McNac
Missed a post in this story?
Post One: Click Here
Post Two: Click Here

Delana is a friend and we want to thank her for sharing this trying time with us. Please support her in this difficult trial. She is the founder of Pet Peace of Mind, an amazing organization that helps hospice patients keep their pets. We hope that her personal story can help others and also be a therapeutic tool for all of you who are facing a similar issue, pet related, or human related. If you would like to learn more about pet cancer, please go here.

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About Austin Dog Zone

Austin Dog Zone formed in 2011. We offer dog training for all breeds and temperaments. We are committed to staying up-to-date on the most current scientific research available for dogs regarding both behavior and wellness. Our methods are effective, dog-friendly and family friendly.

2 Comments to “A Veterinarian’s Personal Perspective: Making Tough Decisions for Our Pets Pt. 3”

  1. April Johnson says:

    Dr. Delana, I know & remember this journey (& heartbreak) so well.
    The one very important lesson in life that my dogs have taught me is to TRUST YOUR INSTINCT (inner voice, gut, etc.). It’s there and it’s always spot on when it comes to our pets (I don’t have children but I suspect it’s there for human parents too.). If it helps, I believe by your entries that you are doing the right thing. Based on my own experience, I know there will be a day in the future when you will look back and know with certain clarity that you did the absolute right thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. For me there has been tremendous comfort in that.
    There are plenty of people who may not understand these difficult decisions (and they are indeed very difficult decisions) or care. Often these are people who have not had to walk this heartbreaking journey (yet) of losing a loved one. It’s hard not to be influenced by them or to question our decisions by their judgment. Please try not to though. 🙂
    Enjoy and love your special friend and try to focus on the her joys!

  2. April says:

    Dr. Delana, I know & remember this journey (& heartbreak) so well.
    The one very important lesson in life that my dogs have taught me is to TRUST YOUR INSTINCT (inner voice, gut, etc.). It’s there and it’s always spot on when it comes to our pets (I don’t have children but I suspect it’s there for human parents too.). If it helps, I believe by your entries that you are doing the right thing. Based on my own experience, I know there will be a day in the future when you will look back and know with certain clarity that you did the absolute right thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. For me there has been tremendous comfort in that.
    There are plenty of people who may not understand these difficult decisions (and they are indeed very difficult decisions) or care. It’s hard not to be influenced by them or to question our decisions by their judgment. Please try not to though. 🙂
    Enjoy and love your special friend and try to focus on the her joys!

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