A Cancer Journey to Survival

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017


This is Yeti’s story.

My male Lhasa Apso, Yeti, was diagnosed with Pancreatitis about April 2015. Very sick, hospitalized. I remember it because I cancelled a trip to Italy; he was too sick for me to leave him. He recovered. Then started the constant struggle of what to feed him, how much and how often. Tried so many different schedules and foods. He had another bout of Pancreatitis in November 2015, then the Springtime of 2016 and again in November 2016. That last bout also included Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (bloody diarrhea). He was hospitalized for 3 days. He recovered again, however, he was losing weight –  fast. I asked my vet to help me with his weight issues and they gave me phone numbers of out-of-state veterinary nutritionists. Not a solution.

Skinny YetiIn early February of this year, I brought him to the vet again, thinking I was dealing with another flare up. Normally weighing in at about 13-14 lbs, he was now down to 9lbs. I could feel the bones in his little body. My vet suggested an Xray. That’s when they found a mass. The same day, they ordered an ultrasound – now the mass is described as a carcinoma the size of a lemon. He was then transferred to our veterinary specialists that deal with tumors and cancer for a more thorough ultrasound. CONFIRMED! Tumor on his jejunum which is an area of the small intestines that leaves the stomach.

His surgery was 2 days later, which couldn’t have been soon enough. I was watching him waste away, completely losing his appetite, having watery diarrhea, and now, pain.

Hospital VisitThe surgery took about 4 hours. They opened him up from the bottom of his rib cage all the way down past his penis. When I finally got to see him, he was groggy with a large bandage covering his belly area.  But, they got it!! The tumor was removed along with a few centimeters of intestines on either side to get “clean lines.” He was stapled back together like a Frankenstein creature.Surgery

When they opened him up they could see that his spleen and pancreas was inflamed and angry. The lymph nodes near his stomach were enlarged and biopsied. But, there were no other signs of cancer spreading.

During his recovery he was weak, thin and still didn’t want to eat. He was on a lot of meds too. I tried everything to get him to eat. He did drink water so I was OK with that. I was scared, really scared. I did not think he was going to bounce back. I sat with him day & night. It was difficult to pick him up because of the massive number of sutures, but I took him out to potty and when I saw the poop coming out, I was ecstatic! His “Plumbing” works!!

After about a week, he started to get his appetite back. Yeti improved every day…bigger and better than the day before. He ate…boy, did he eat!! I fed him Hill’s I/D with Fortiflora. He got stronger, being able to walk outside by himself. He went in for a checkup and was doing so well, they took the staples out. He has ONE BAD-ASS scar to show off now. He was so happy and so spunky that he jumped into the vet tech’s lap. She had only seen the sick, weak Yeti and couldn’t believe his improvements.

ChillaxinThe biopsies came back – the cancer did not spread! No chemo, no more medications. He will need 6 month checkups for the rest of his life, but that’s OK.

Just a couple of months later and Yeti has made a complete recovery – a new leash on life! He gained back all his weight and his spunky personality. He is back on duty keeping squirrels and birds from his yard, running, jumping and enjoying his life.

During a recent wellness check with Yeti’s vet, I asked this question: “Is it possible that he did not have pancreatitis all along? Could it have been this tumor growing?” His answer, “yes, totally possible.”

Pancreatitis is a GENERALIZED term. It means that the pancreas is inflamed which will cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite. Yeti had the pancreatitis test many times. It came up “positive.” What I learned was that, a positive result means that the pancreas is inflamed. There could be an underlying reason for it to be inflamed. Could be their diet, could be something completely different…in Yeti’s case it was a tumor.

Today, he is still on his specialized low-fat diet of Hill’s I/D. I add some cooked chicken, a little white rice, cooked carrots and the Fortiflora. He is pooping like it’s a sausage machine! His poop never looked so good.

What is the moral of Yeti’s journey? BE PROACTIVE! Get 2nd or 3rd opinions, research, document and don’t believe everything you read in some internet chat group. ONLY YOU know your dog and when he’s not feeling well.

A Pancreatitis diagnosis, in my opinion, means you alter the pet’s diet to make the pancreas happy. That is all. If there are still problems or continuing recurrences, INVESTIGATE!! Today, Yeti is having NO pancreatic issues and hasn’t had any flare-ups.

I was so close to losing Yeti. I thank God that he is still with me today. I also must thank the excellent veterinarians and techs at O’Connor Road Veterinary Hospital and the veterinarian surgeons and techs at South Texas Veterinary Specialty.

I am incredibly and eternally grateful for the support from my friends and family – monetarily and emotionally! I really couldn’t have done it without them.

Yeti By The Pool

YETI – the cancer survivor!