GliderCENTRAL

Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate

Posted By: aWiiPeanut

Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/08/20 01:51 AM

I just got notification from the vet that my little buddy has cancer. It’s been a long 3 months dealing with an infection and surgeries, and I ended up taking him to another vet because I didn’t see improvement with the one I was going to. The second vet wanted to do a biopsy and it came back today as cancer. He did not give me a timeframe... he will be calling me back after looking into a possible procedure using a probe (has anyone heard of this?) to reduce the open wound on his chest and kill some of the cells. This would not be a permanent solution and would just prolong his life. I obviously want to do what’s best for him and I don’t want to cause him more stress in his final days. I will wait to hear back from him before we make any decisions (and ask a lot of questions). Right now I want to focus on spoiling him and get some ideas on how to help his cagemate transition to being without a cagemate. His buddy was a rescue so I don’t have a definitive age (7 or 8 yo). If he were younger I would get him another friend but I’m afraid to do that considering he is older. I know gliders are self mutilaters and I want to help him as much as possible. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!
Posted By: Feather

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/08/20 04:29 AM

I am so sorry to hear of this diagnosis. In regards to your remaining glider when this one passes, I would get two buddies that are the same age to keep him company. Finding older gliders is hard and it is equally hard if not harder to rehome older gliders. Sometimes the stress of rehoming them will result in death.

Please keep us posted on your little one.
Posted By: aWiiPeanut

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/12/20 01:38 AM

So I got an update on the procedure I mentioned earlier for those interested. It is called strontium therapy (using a probe). It is as thin as the point on a pencil lead. If we decided to do the procedure, they would debulk the area by excising the skin on his chest that they thought had the cancer in it and use the probe on the rest to try and kill the cancer cells that were left. The wound goes from his neck to right about under his rib cage area. This has never been done on a sugar glider before according to the research.

The first vet I took him to really made a large cut on him and because he had cancer and we didn’t know it, the stitches would not hold the tissue together (and he picked at it of course). With the diagnosis he has, the vet did not give us an idea of how long he would have to live without the procedure. He also does not know if the procedure will even work or how long it could give him if it did. It would not cure him, just possibly prolong his life.

My main concerns with the procedure are recovery, stress, and not having a timeline to work with. I want what is best for my little buddy but I don’t know if the stress from the procedure, healing time, driving time (about 3.5 hours each way), and the possibility of self mutilation will outweigh the possibility of some extra time with him. He doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the open would right now and he is his spunky little self which would tell me he atleast has some time left with us (although I know things can turn quickly).

I’m just so torn! If they had said he only has a week or two to live then I would think it wouldn’t be worth causing him all the stress and pain of trying treatment. I DON’T want his last few weeks of life to be miserable and stress-filled all because we wanted to try an experiment. I just don’t know what to do. I had a cat with cancer that we treated with chemo. It ended up coming back on the last day of chemo and it made me feel horrible that I put her through all the doctor visits and chemo for nothing.

I haven’t had a glider have serious problems before. What are other people’s experience with gliders healing from procedures? Has anyone had to have some of their skin removed before? I just wonder how they would adjust to something like that. He LOVES running on his wheel and it would have to change the way he moves I would think, depending on how much tissue they actually excised. This is just so stressful and I feel horrible for him!

Any help is appreciated!
Posted By: Feather

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/12/20 03:27 AM

Did they say what kind of cancer it is? My boy Tucker had Sarcoma cancer. Had the first lump removed and it cane back with a vengeance, which is the nature of Sarcoma cancer.

The surgery probably gave me two more months with him. When he started losing weight and got nippy I helped him over the bridge.
Posted By: KarenE

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/12/20 02:05 PM

I had the same question that Feather/Kim did on what kind of cancer it is. Melanoma, skin cancer? That was my first thought after reading your last post, however, with humans melanoma can spread throughout the entire body even though excised at surface points and then treated.
Originally Posted by aWiiPeanut
My main concerns with the procedure are recovery, stress, and not having a timeline to work with. I want what is best for my little buddy but I don’t know if the stress from the procedure, healing time, driving time (about 3.5 hours each way), and the possibility of self mutilation will outweigh the possibility of some extra time with him.

Those are indeed valid concerns.
Originally Posted by aWiiPeanut
He doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the open would right now and he is his spunky little self which would tell me he atleast has some time left with us (although I know things can turn quickly).

The fact that he doesn't bother the open wound at all tells us he isn't in pain from it. How long has it been like it is now?
Originally Posted by aWiiPeanut
He LOVES running on his wheel and it would have to change the way he moves I would think, depending on how much tissue they actually excised.

This would be very important if he were my glider. Putting him through the surgery, treatment and hopefully recovery will not leave him as he is now to live out whatever time he has left. There is no way of knowing just how much time that is regardless of what you do. It could also be he would not even make it through the surgery much less any treatment afterwards.
These little ones are so small and more times than not fragile to surgical procedures. Their little bodies don't always respond well to the anesthesia. Age plays a part as well. You did not mention(or I missed)how old he is.
Sometimes spending the time left in happiness and building memories is better than going through painful treatment (for animals). They will usually let us know when they are ready to leave us.
I hope my post has been helpful hug2
Posted By: aWiiPeanut

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/12/20 03:17 PM

Thank you so much for the responses and help!

It is an Ulcerated Carcinoma, most likely squamous cell. I don't think the sample was very large which is why we don’t have a definitive cell type. This all started April 1st, I noticed a lump on his chest around where his scent gland is located. I was able to get him in to the vet the next day which is when they cut him open and cleaned it out. It opened, took him back, and they cleaned it and stitched it up again. When it opened again the vet just gave me a topical spray and sent me home. So I found somewhere else to take him...which led to the biopsy. So its been open on and off for quite awhile now.

He is 7 years old.

I baked them a tiny cake last night and gave it to him and I noticed he would run on the wheel for awhile and then he’d start licking the wound or he’d chill behind their sleeping spot and lick it. I’m not sure if he is trying to keep it clean or if its bothering him. They didn’t touch the cake but they did eat their normal food. I think not eating the cake could be because I tried EVERY trick in the book to give him his antibiotics and he’s so smart... he probably thought i was trying to drug him. I will keep an eye out for not eating/drinking...and try the cake again soon.

Thank you again for talking this out with me. It’s hard to think of everything when making a decision like this.

Posted By: KarenE

Re: Cancer diagnosis and how to help cagemate - 07/13/20 03:19 PM

Doing some research on Google, Ulcerated Carcinoma, most likely squamous cell is skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Diagnosis & Treatment

These articles are, of course, written for humans and gliders are much different plus being so small. Reading these articles, this type skin cancer does sound like it is one of the more treatable kind dunno

At the very least getting a 2nd and 3rd opinion before doing any surgery.

Hope this helps.
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