Kronk is recovering from his surgery nicely now. When his pain patch wore off, we went through a rough period where his pain was not well managed and he stopped eating again. But we got that taken care of pretty quickly with some oral pain pills and he started feeding himself again, so we were able to stop force-feeding him. Once he was feeding himself, then we could also just hide his pills in some food instead of having to forcefully pill him by shoving them down his throat. Which was good because he was really starting to resist that approach. Shortly after he decided to eat on his own, he picked up dramatically. He was even feeling well enough to try to rip out his stitches, so he had to wear one of those silly collars for a couple of days until his stitches were ready to be removed, which the vet did yesterday. We've been able to back off of the pain meds almost completely, too. Now he seems to be back to his normal happy self. Maybe happier, even, since we're pampering him food-wise and feeding him canned food instead of his normal dry food. So short-term, he's much better. Which is great.
After consulting with a couple of oncologists, my vet was able to talk to me today about Kronk's long-term prognosis. His cancer is a stage 4 leiomyosarcoma, originating from the secum of the intestine. The "stage 4" means that it was very advanced, having spread to other organs; this is the most advanced stage of cancer rankings. So that means that his prognosis is rather poor. The specialists are giving him 6-9 months.
The two options for further treatment are both risky and expensive: chemotherapy or another surgery. The chemo is hit-or-miss and will make him feel nauseated, which will have to be controlled with anti-nausea medication, and will require vet trips 3 times a week to monitor dose levels, and may not even target his cancer well. Even if it does target his cancer, it would likely only buy him another year, max. And more surgery would be very hard on his body, recovery-wise. And even then, it's likely that because the cancer was so spread through his body, subsequent tumors would not be easily removed. So we've decided not to treat him further. And when I expressed that to my vet, she said that she thought that was the right choice, which I greatly appreciated hearing from her.
So basically all that is left to do is to watch him for signs of recurrence. Since his cancer is one of the GI tract, the most likely signs that it is growing back are reluctance to eat, weight loss, vomiting and dehydration. We'll monitor him closely for those things. Also, we will be watching for reluctance to move or signs of pain. To that end, the vet wants to see him once a month until he's gone, just to help us watch for early warning signs and make sure he's not suffering as he reaches the end of his life. Until that point, we'll just make him as comfortable and happy as possible so that he can enjoy what time he has left.
Once I was told his tumor was cancerous, I had a feeling that this would be the prognosis, so I've actually had some time to accept it. And I'm ok with it now. I'll get to have a few months to say goodbye to my boy, and that's something most pet owners don't get. We'll be able to really pamper him before he goes, and then we'll be able to confidently say that he knew he was well loved. And if he has to leave us, then that's the way I'd want it to be. So I guess we're lucky in that respect.