Continuing Chemo vs. Quality of Life?

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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – this website was instrumental in helping me realize that my 16 year old cat needed immediate medical attention. (symptoms) She was diagnosed with nasal lymphoma in July. Found wonderful, caring cancer specialist Vet and started treatment. One month of radiation, then weekly chemo.

We started out fine; but now my beloved cat is so frightened of the every-other (now) chemo treatments, that she throws up and poo's in her carrier on the way there. She is also afraid of me, at home, and hides behind the television.

It's only she and I, so it is quite sad for her, and makes me wonder of the quality of her life, and if maybe I should stop the chemo. Medically this would hurt her chances for a longer life; but what is that life for her now? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Trudy Owen

Answer

Hi Trudy– thanks for your email. I'm very sorry to hear about your cat. That is a very difficult decision and situation. I totally understand. On one hand you want to prolong her life with the chemotherapy but on the other hand you want her quality of life to be good. I don't know the right answer but I'll give you my input. If there were only a couple more treatments – I'd probably finish it. If it is months and months, I don't know.

You are right in that stopping chemotherapy could hurt her changes of a longer life. However, if she is miserable – what kind of life is that?

Talk to your cancer veterinarian about the situation and determine if there is any chemotherapy protocol that could be shorter (even if the prognosis long-term is not as good). Then make an educated decision on what to do. I understand either decision but I sometimes lean toward quality of life. You want her to feel good and have good days for all the chemo to be worth it.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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