Unknown to many, Cancer is a major cause of death in pets. According to The Veterinary Cancer Society, “Cancer is the leading cause of death in 47% of dogs and 32% of cats.”
This World Cancer Day, we talk to Kate Gesilva about her nine-year-old Malteze Shih-Tzu, Chuckie, and his struggle with Cancer.
After taking Chuckie to the groomer, the groomer notified Kate that she had found lumps along Chuckie’s jawline which she advised Kate to get checked out.
Kate began to take notice that Chuckie’s mood had altered, he was constantly sluggish and fatigued, “he wanted to rest more and more.”
Kate immediately took Chuckie to the vet, whereupon she was advised to keep monitoring the lumps, however, “over a month later, there was an even larger lump on his right shoulder.”
Eventually Chuckie was referred to a pet oncologist who on the 26th of December 2019, finally gave the diagnosis that Kate was dreading to hear. Chuckie not only had Lymphoma, but he was also sadly given a life expectancy date of 4-6 weeks.
“I cried when I heard the news… that’s when our world crashed down. I was devastated and just hoped and prayed that we’d be able to save him.”
Kate knew instantly that she was willing to do almost anything to keep Chuckie around with her. “There was no question about it. My partner and I wanted to give him a fighting chance. Our vet advised us that because of his age (he was not too old) he had better chances of surviving the cancer with chemo treatments.”
Over the next five months, Chuckie underwent 5 cycles of Chemotherapy which involved the treatment of both injections and oral tablets.
Becoming a carer to Chuckie was a full-time job for Kate and her partner, he had to be consistently monitored throughout the week, he received regular blood tests and Saturdays became the reserved day for Chuckie’s Chemotherapy sessions.
On top of all of this, Chuckie was becoming more aggressive and hostile throughout the Chemo process which was not usually in his nature.
In March of 2020, Kate was diagnosed with anxiety due to the constant stress and the lack of control she had over Chuckie’s situation.
Despite being diagnosed with Anxiety, Kate still felt that she always “made the right decision” by going down the path of Chemotherapy.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I understand that not everyone would spend their time and resources to care for a pet. A relative once asked me if it was well worth spending so much for Chemo treatments. It was not so bad because Chuckie has pet insurance but to be honest, even if he did not have insurance, I think I would still have made the same decision… I consider Chuckie as my family, not just an animal.”
After months and months of veterinary and oncology appointments, we are extremely happy to report that Chuckie is now out of remission, he is no longer weak and lethargic, and his usual personality is starting to shine through again.
Although he is out of remission, Chuckie must continue to take oral Chemotherapy medication and other medications that counteract the effects of Chemo on the liver, but Chuckie seems to be returning to his normal, cheery self.
Kate feels that her bond with Chuckie is stronger than ever after being through so much together. “Seeing Chuckie happy, feeling better and enjoying a better quality of life makes it all worth it.”
Here at BAXTA, we want to hear all of your pet stories – sad or happy, weird or wonderful. Get in contact with us if you have a story to share or join the BAXTA community by downloading the app to read more inspiring pet tales.