I have been following you on FB as well. I'm so glad to see she seems to be making improvements, even if they're small ones
As for the US, if it does end up being the "C" word, I thought as you and most others on this board, that at such an age, surgery wasn't an acceptable option. However, with some "education" and compassionate advice from one of our wonderful vets, we opted for surgery, and later, chemo. I mentioned Thorin on FB. He was diagnosed with a mass in his lung, and was 11 yrs old at the time. We thought that such an invasive procedure would be a lot of recovery time and would take away from his last few months, but that wasn't the case at all. I was also opposed to chemo because of what I have seen in people. One of our vets, a wonderful lady, has spent many years treating cancer patients. She was the first to start a Chemo protocol here in the Edmonton area and she is also one of the founders of ACTSS (Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society). She thought that Thorin was a great candidate, and we opted to trust her. We took him to Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, Washington and had the mass removed. They had to remove the bottom third of his lung, then sent it for histology. What they found really surprised them. At first, they thought that the tumor was a single mass, primary lung tumor and that surgery should be curative. But it wasn't. It came back as a rare form of cancer found in Bernese Mountain dogs and flat coated retrievers called disseminated histiocytic sarcoma, and there really isn't much information out there, it's a very complicated form of cancer that relates to the immune system. Thorin was a Malamute/GSDx, so how he ended up with it, they have no idea. After the surgery, it took only a few days for him to be completely back to himself. In fact, it was a real challenge to try and keep him from playing with Nookie and dislodging the staples
Our vet recommended we start Chemo as soon as possible. She said that dogs don't react to chemo the same way people do, mainly because in people, they are trying to cure the cancer. But what they have found in animals is that it rarely cures them, so they are given a much lower dose and the side effects are minimal, if any. Thorin had a bad tummy all his life (Colitis), but he never had an issue with the chemo... he didn't vomit even once. We also see a holisitic vet who has saved Nookies life
He treated Thorin for immune support while we went through the chemo. The surgery and chemo combined gave us another year with our sweet, beautiful boy. It was worth every penny (to us, anyway!)... and I would give anything to have him back again.
One thing I will say is to talk to your vet. And if you decide to have surgery/chemo, make sure the surgery is performed by a specialist (they know how to remove the masses without leaving anything behind to spread) and see an actual vet that specializes in cancer(if you can afford it!).Thorin was in very good health (except for the Colitis), prior to the cancer, even though he was elderly. They have special anesthesia protocols for senior dogs and dogs with other health issues that are very safe, and recovery times for surgery is normally much lower than most people would expect (myself included, prior to having gone through it). Anesthesia is scary, and no matter how good the protocol is, there's always the risk that something can go wrong, but we've been fortunate.
As for the Chemo, Thorin's was in pill form and was every 3 weeks for 4 months. He went through 2 rounds. The body can become immune to the Chemo after a period of time, which is what happened to Thorin on the second round, so they recommended I.V. Chemo therapy, which we chose not to do. The treatment they recommended for him is caustic and can cause severe issues if it goes outside of the vein, and Thorin had very bad veins (they had to stick him several times just to draw blood and veins would collapse), so we decided not to put him through it. Eventually, the tumors came in mass and when he got to the point he was no longer enjoying life, we let him go. But again, we got a good, happy year with him due to the treatments, with very little discomfort. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I'm attaching a few pictures of Thorin post surgery just so you get an idea of just how invasive it was, and again, how quickly he recovered. It didn't affect his quality of life in the least
This first picture is app. 3 weeks after the surgery. You can still see the incision, but it's completely healed. It went all the way from the bottom of his rib cage, up his side to his spine. Oh, and please forgive Nookies lack of shame
These next 2 pics were about 6-7 weeks after surgery. The only way you could tell he had anything done was the lack of coat. He made a full and complete recovery, even though they had to cut through his ribcage:
Dogs really are resilient