Home > Daisy, Health Care - Dogs > Daisy has an insulinoma

Daisy has an insulinoma

February 22, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s been a rough couple of weeks here at Casa del Mel. If you haven’t seen it on my Facebook page, Daisy had surgery to remove a tumor, called an Insulinoma, from her pancreas. A tumor, that up until February 6th, we knew nothing about. Now we know too much.

An insulinoma is almost always a malignant tumor that appears on the pancreas and starts messing with the insulin levels in a dog (or human). It causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), tiredness after exercise, collapse, seizures and sometimes brain damage. It is a progressive disease and will spread throughout the body, as all cancers do.

Spent the morning and afternoon with Daisy at the U of M. Hoping she comes home tonight. #Daisy

The day after surgery at the U of M.

On February 6, I took Daisy in to our regular vet to have her teeth cleaned and a lump (an benign outgrowth of a sebaceous cyst) removed. I expected to receive a call later in the day to be told all went well and she was ready to go home but instead, I received a call a few hours after I dropped her off to tell me that they could not perform the procedures because her blood sugar was really low, abnormally low (hers was in the 40s, normal is 80).

I knew it was serious, but I did not know how serious until Monday. That was when my vet informed me it was likely an insulinoma, and that she was referring Daisy to her teacher at the University of Minnesota. Within 30 minutes, I received a call from the U of M to schedule an appointment (yes, it really did happen that fast).

This was the moment when I got scared. A call within 30 minutes? An appointment two weeks out was not soon enough? Oh my God.

We went in on Thursday for a consult and a CT scan was scheduled for the next day. It would tell us whether or not it had spread and what course of action we would take.

The hardest thing I had ever done up until that point was to leave Daisy at her regular vet, with people she knew, but on that Friday, I had to drop her off with strangers (albeit, wonderfully nice strangers) and leave her there for the whole day. It killed me inside.

When I got the call that she was done, the vet also confirmed it was an insulinoma (just as we thought). I was also informed that it was a single tumor and had not spread to her chest or other organs. There was some concern over a slightly odd-looking lymph node nearby, but it was small (2mm) and not as concerning as the insulinoma. The recommendation was surgical removal.

As the vet and surgeon both told me at our post CT scan meeting, they almost never see a dog with an insulinoma who has not shown any major symptoms (collapsing, seizures, etc.), and who has not already found to have multiple tumors or to have it spread throughout their body. By the time they see dogs with this type of tumor, they are pretty far gone. They were both pretty excited that Daisy had been caught early. They wanted to schedule the surgery for Tuesday, February 17.

She slept for almost an hour. I sat with her for an hour and a half. The vet said she does better when I am there. Wish I could stay the night. #Daisy

The second day after surgery. Hanging out in ICU.

To say I was completely overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was scared and freaked out and not sure what to do. I needed time to think. Should I do the surgery and get the cancer while it was early? Should I let the cancer spread and just maintain Daisy’s glucose levels as long as I could with drugs? What was fair to Daisy? What was best for her?The decision was agonizing.

I could not bear the thought of willingly letting the cancer, this insidious, awful curse of a disease, spread through Daisy’s body, but, I was also filled with doubts. What if she died in surgery or due to complications from surgery? What if her quality of life was better without surgery, even though it might mean an earlier death? What if I lost her in surgery when I could have had her for a few more months without it? Was it fair to put Daisy, my fearful girl, through this?

In the end, I decided to go ahead with the surgery, partly because it was already scheduled and partly because Daisy was the anomaly, the cancer had been caught early, and I couldn’t bear the thought of letting the cancer spread. Not if we could remove it and give her a good quality of life for a year or so to come. I wanted her to have a quality life, not a life slowly seeping away as the cancer ate through her body.

HOME #Daisy #recovery

Thursday night – Home at last.

The surgery went well. Daisy came out of to with the left half of her pancreas gone (due to the location of the tumor), but her glucose levels we’re closer to normal and she made it through. In addition to the tumor, Daisy had the lymph node removed and a biopsy of her liver done. Both the lymph node and the liver biopsy came back negative for cancer. The tumor was, of course, positive for cancer, but they got it all out. Luckily, she can still function with the remaining half of her pancreas and her glucose levels have been normal since the surgery. Her prognosis is good.

But, I am still plagued with doubts. Did I do the right thing? 

On Friday, Daisy started drooling, drinking water excessively, pacing, seemed restless, and suddenly developed a bloated stomach. I thought I was going to lose her. I thought she had bloat. Only another surgery would save her and I did not have the money for another surgery.

However, after an X-ray and a radiologist consultation, it was determined Daisy had food bloat. A very different type of bloat and much less scary that the stomach-twisting kind. Supposedly, she got into something and ate a lot of it – they can see lots of particles of something like dog food in her stomach. Unfortunately, she had very little opportunity to get into anything and I cannot find any missing items that would explain what she might have eaten, unless it was poop. So, I worry and wait for her to poop out whatever she supposedly ate.

The girls are back together again. #Daisy #maggie

Back to the usual stuff, like sleeping side by side with Maggie on the couch.

For me, it is concerning that her stomach is still bloated, but it appears to be less so than Friday evening. The good news is that she is still eating and drinking and she is also acting more like herself. She is more tired right now, but that is to be expected after major surgery (not to mention the visits to the ER).

Being a lifelong worrywart, I think I will continue to worry about Daisy, and my decision to put her through surgery, for some time to come. Maybe I will feel better when I see Daisy back at the dog park with her siblings, running through the woods and begging treats from her friends at the dog park. Until then, I wait and hope and pray that I made the right decision.

While I would not wish this experience on anyone (who wants their dog to have cancer or major surgery?), I have learned a lot.

 

What I have learned:

  • No one can make the decision for your dog’s healthcare except you. Others will weigh in and may even scoff at your choices, but in the end, the decision is yours. Also keep in mind what your pet would want.
  • Know how far you are willing to pursue saving your pet. Ask yourself: How much is too much? How long do I keep trying to save them? What kind of quality of life is my pet getting? Before the CT scan, I had already decided I would not do surgery of the tumor had spread, even a little bit.
  • Having a great vet who knows your dog, and knows when to be concerned, is a blessing. Find a good one. We have and we love her.
  • Blood work before surgery is a must for my vet, I am guessing it is for most medical procedures involving anesthesia, but ask your vet beforehand. If my vet had not run Daisy’s blood work, she could have had a seizure on the operating table and/or could have died.
  • The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center is a great place and filled with amazing people. They are responsive and kind and always willing to help.
  • Be okay with saying “No” to a procedure if you feel it is not beneficial to your pet or will not extend their life. I had a hard time with this one at first. There is always one more procedure that can be performed, one more drug given, but in the end you have to decide if it is worth it.
  • Get pet insurance. I wish I had. The costs add up quickly. My costs went above the estimated price, by a lot. Be prepared for it to do so.

 

 

 

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  1. February 23, 2015 at 12:14 AM

    Big hugs to Daisy and you. We have thought about ‘how much is enough’ when it comes to Ike and Tina. It looks like we should consider insurance.. Out of all the pets we have had over the past 43 years, these two are so much closer to our hearts. We have more invested emotionally in these dogs and it would be devastating to have to make these decisions based only on money.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:59 AM

      I agree. I had money set aside, but the surgery and extra night and care has done away with that. I would definitely get insurance.

  2. February 23, 2015 at 12:17 AM

    Me and Nellie hope you get better soon. Our doggy thoughts are with you.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:58 AM

      Thank you so much. We so appreciate the good thoughts.

  3. February 23, 2015 at 12:43 AM

    So sad for poor Daisy, but so glad there was some good news. Making these decisions is so hard, but you just have to follow your heart. Jack is sending her tender thoughts and kisses.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks Kate. I am encouraged this morning. She ate all of her breakfast and looks less bloated today. Tell Jack and Maggie we love them. 🙂

  4. February 23, 2015 at 12:48 AM

    You have made some really good points here. I also recommend pet insurance and the big thing – don’t wait too long to get it! The early years pass quickly and then we find that our dogs may not be eligible. And oh YES. Having a solid relationship with a vet is so important. I despair every now and again when a news outlet does a story on comparing vet costs. Because they encourage people to shop around and that’s the only message they give. So people, at least down our way, do exactly that. They have no consistent relationship with a vet who can pick when something isn’t right nor guide them through a decision when something ‘bad’ happens.

    It’s our jobs as owners/parents to make the decisions and having a good network to make the ‘right’ decisions helps. You’ve done a great job so far – trust your instincts – and good luck!

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:57 AM

      You hit on every one of the messages I would share with my friends. So important to have pet insurance and to have a good vet. I am sure many people here also shop around, but there are so many risks with that. I trust my vet and I know she will do her best for my dogs. Thank you so much for your comment and best wishes.

  5. kenzohw
    February 23, 2015 at 1:21 AM

    I understand how difficult it it has been, trying to make the right decision for Daisy. It is our responsibility, but so tough, and we get no guarantees. Thanks for sharing your story, the decisions you made and why. Last but least I was glad to hear the op went well and the cancer hasn’t been able to spread. You and Daisy are in our thoughts, hoping for a quick recovery.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:55 AM

      Thanks Leo. You know all too well how difficult these medical decisions can be. And yet again, you are facing another difficult one. I am sending love and prayers your way as you manage Kenzo’s care.

  6. February 23, 2015 at 1:50 AM

    So glad to read she’s okay!

  7. February 23, 2015 at 4:23 AM

    Poor Daisy and what a worry for you, big hugs to you both! So many decisions to make and much more difficult to do when it is someone else’s health and life you have to consider. We’ve learned alot from our old dog Maxi’s trips to the vet and thankfully got our younger dog Bundy insured before he got too old and developed too many pre-existing conditions. I don’t ever want to have to choose my bank account over Bundy’s health and am grateful that we’ve been able to afford Maxi’s treatments without having the benefit of pet insurance. Of course, quality of life is paramount and hopefully Daisy will have many years left to give once she recovers. Best wishes to you both.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:52 AM

      You are so smart to have taken care of pet insurance and to have an account ready. I had some money set aside, but I never expected a diagnosis of insulinoma. Daisy had slowed down at the park, but never seemed exhausted afterwards, so I never even knew she was sick. Such a shock. It reminded me that you can never count on life not to throw you a curveball. I hope I get much more time with Daisy. Thank you for your best wishes.

      • February 23, 2015 at 4:11 PM

        You are welcome, having a sick dog is heartbreaking, we want so much to ease their pain and make them well again because they give us so much. Maxi was diagnosed with arthritis and a possible partial tear of the cruciate ligament at the age of 9 so we thought we were in for some bills. She is now 14 and the cruciate ligament hasn’t been a problem but a severe bout of pancreatitis almost emptied our savings earlier this year, such a large chunk of money certainly makes you think twice.

      • Mel
        February 23, 2015 at 10:46 PM

        Yes. It really is hard to see them so sick. Maxi sounds like a tough girl. The pancreatitis though is really hard. I know what you mean about emptying a bank account on it. I hope she is doing much better now. Smooch!

      • February 23, 2015 at 10:54 PM

        I think Maxi is tougher than me, she is doing well now but on an incredibly restricted diet and is a little on the thin side. Will keep fingers and paws crossed that Daisy is feeling better soon xo

      • Mel
        February 24, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        That is so hard isn’t it? I worry Daisy will have a similar restricted diet. She seems to be suffering a sensitive tummy today. Her pancreas did not like all the activity and cheese yesterday. Totally my fault. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  8. Debbie O'Halloran
    February 23, 2015 at 4:25 AM

    Prayers for Daisy. While I haven’t been on FB too much lately, I did know about her food bloat issue. What I did not know was about her tumor. Being diabetic when I saw insulinoma, I knew it had something to do with the pancreas. I’m so sorry for you and Daisy. I understand what you are going through & the concerns you expressed on your post. Knowing what you have said about her condition, I think you did the right thing. It’s what I would have done. I’m happy to hear her prognosis is good.
    I’m praying and thinking about you and Daisy. Much healing energy being sent by me and my Chi’s to you and Daisy. Looking forward to many dog park pictures when she recovers.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:50 AM

      Thank you so much Debbie. It is definitely a tough situation to deal with and I most definitely question my choice, but I am also hoping for the best. I’ll share those pics from the dog park when she is able to go. 🙂

  9. February 23, 2015 at 4:34 AM

    Dear Daisy, I cross my paws that you feel better soon. I so agree with you, to have a good vet is like winning the lottery…

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:48 AM

      Thank you, and I so agree. Our vet is the best.

  10. February 23, 2015 at 5:05 AM

    Sending lots of love, prayers, and positive thoughts your way.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:48 AM

      Thank you so much.

  11. February 23, 2015 at 5:58 AM

    Hooray for Daisy! She’s lucky to have a good Mom, a good vet, and to live near a top ranked veterinary teaching hospital. I read about your sweet girl with the empathy of one who has been there. Don’t ever second guess yourself. You will always do the right thing for her. Always.

  12. February 23, 2015 at 6:03 AM

    My mom would be a basket case and wishing her vet friend in Germany was here to help her with every little question she had. We sure hope Daisy continues to recover and will be able to lead a normal life. You did the right thing.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:42 AM

      I pretty much was a basket case Emma. Daisy is very special to me. The thought of losing her in a few months from something we did not know she even had is just damn scary. I am hoping tat Daisy continues to do well and can fight off a reoccurrence. Unfortunately, it is common for insulinomas to come back.

  13. February 23, 2015 at 6:07 AM

    I’d love for some of you who have commented to read “When my Dog had Cancer.” It was written from the perspective of a couple of years post treatment. I hope to hear a similar tale about Daisy. Sitstayandread > Sophie> Tales
    Thanks.

  14. February 23, 2015 at 6:15 AM

    Unfortunately I know exactly how you feel. Seven years ago I lost my heart dog Tally to Insulinoma. She was 14 1/2, so surgery was never mentioned as a possibility, and I wouldn’t have done it anyway at her age. I did what everyone does these days; I googled it. And it scared the daylights out of me. I lost her two weeks later.

    Then a year and a half ago, I brought my 12 y/o girl Raven in for a geriatric checkup. She seemed to be drinking a lot of water, and I worried it was her kidneys. Blood work showed that her glucose was really low. Assuming diabetes, my vet (different vet) put her on a low dose of insulin, and had me come back in two weeks to do a glucose curve. Then it was off the charts, so he cut her already low dose in half. Worse a few days later. He said to me, “I really don’t understand why we can’t regulate her”. And a feeling of horror came over me. I said “It’s insulinoma!” He looked at me like I had three heads, obviously wondering where I came up with THAT out of the blue. He said how extremely rare it is, that he’s only seen one case in 10 years as a vet. I told him to do an ultrasound, that I was sure. He did, and said he thought I was right. Off to the Specialist for a much more involved U/S. He confirmed my fears, and gave me the options. A very expensive surgery ($5-7,000), or just try to control the levels for whatever time she had left, which was a few weeks to a month. I scheduled the surgery for 4 days later.

    In that 4 days, I didn’t sleep, hardly ate, and just constantly questioned my decision to do the surgery. I just wasn’t sure it was the right choice to make. The info the vet sent home with me and my constant searching on line all confirmed that this always comes back, with a vengeance, and within 7 mos to a year. The surgery itself could cause a serious and immediate case of pancreatitis and a lot of pain. Hers was in the worst spot on the pancreas that it could possibly be in for removal and complications. After talking with a friend who is a human end of life social worker and fellow dog lover, she explained about dogs not knowing about the “future”, and “time”; they only know the here and now at this moment. That those extra months would be for me, and not for Raven. I called and cancelled the surgery, and felt a giant load had been lifted.

    This decision was not made lightly, and I was struggling with the feelings of guilt that I was basically giving her a death sentence. I will be forever grateful for the talk between my friend and I; she really helped me to understand what Raven would want. I lost her about two weeks later.

    I am SO very sorry; I hope she defies the odds. Hugs to you & Daisy…

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:39 AM

      Oh Ash, I am so sorry. I cannot imagine going through this twice. Ugh. How awful.
      My vet had never seen an actual case, so I get the “rare” thing too. That is why she referred me immediately. I questioned myself too. I am hoping we were lucky and we caught all of it (although, I am realistic about the odds of it coming back). I think part of what made me choose surgery is the fact that they could not see any spread on the CT scan. If they had, I would not have done it. I am hoping that not finding it in the lymph node or in the liver is good news. I will take whatever time I can get. The thought that I might have lost her as quickly as you lost yours is too heartbreaking to think about. I was thinking I would have a few months. Weeks? God. I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing your story.

  15. Page
    February 23, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    Prayers for you both! There is an excellent Yahoo group for people who have dogs suffering from insulinoma. You may find it very helpful.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 7:08 AM

      Thank you for letting me know! I will definitely check it out!

  16. February 23, 2015 at 6:57 AM

    You and Daisy really have been through a lot lately. So sorry to hear about her cancer and stomach bloat. It is easy for me to say but I really feel you did the right thing with surgery. You were so fortunate to find the tumor so early and save her from what could have been a lingering, painful existence. I’ve never had any experience with bloat and can’t imagine how nervous you must be. I hope that corrects itself soon and she gets back to being Daisy again. My prayers are with you.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 7:00 AM

      Thanks Coni. I SO appreciate your thoughts and prayers. As always, you are a comfort.

  17. February 23, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    So scary!!!! I’m so glad to hear it was caught early and they got everything. Cancer is such an ugly disease in animals as well as humans. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way for a speedy recovery!!!

  18. February 23, 2015 at 7:47 AM

    What an ordeal! I feel for you (and of course Daisy). Thanks for sharing this story. You’re right, we’re the only ones who can make medical decisions for our pets, but that doesn’t mean those decisions don’t tear us apart, no matter how right they feel.

  19. February 23, 2015 at 8:11 AM

    I’m so sorry, but how fortunate to have caught the cancer early. Sounds to me like you made the best choice out of the options that were available. I think it’s normal to second-guess ourselves. I hope Daisy starts feeling better soon. You all are in my thoughts!!

  20. February 23, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    The helpless feeling we get when our pets are sick is just the worst. You have a really great perspective on how to control the things we can control and save the rest of our energy for loving the time we have with them.

  21. February 23, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    Sending our prayers to you and Daisy. Those decisions are the toughest but she certainly has love on her side!

  22. February 23, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    Healing vibes to Daisy! I hope she continues to recover.

    Though not nearly on the same level as what you’ve been going through, since the new year we’ve been battling colitis with our Riley. After almost 2 months of nothing staying in her for long, and me worrying and stressing nonstop, she’s finally pooping normally — 2 more days and we can start to up her food intake and bring her back from skin and bones.

  23. February 23, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    So glad there was a somewhat happy ending to this post. It’s always hard to know if we are doing the right thing where are pups are concerned and easy to second guess. My initial thought is you did right by Daisy. Hugs to both of you from me and Sam. ❤

  24. February 23, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    Thanks for those details. I wondered how much (if any) of her pancreas she lost in the surgery. I’m so sorry for your worries and the later bloat scare, etc. Hang in there. I know it’s hard.

  25. jan
    February 23, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    We love happy endings. Thanks for a most informative post. Hugs from all of us.

  26. Sue
    February 23, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    So glad that Daisy is feeling better. You may never ever know what caused this bloat episode. What a blessing your vet caught this at such an early stage! Don’t beat yourself up over your decision. What’s done is done. You did the very best you could do at this time. I believe you’re tuned in to your dogs and somewhere inside knew what Daisy would want. Hugs to you and your whole pack.

  27. February 23, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    What a difficult decision to make. Thankfully the problem was diagnosed early enough and you have good care for your dog. Thanks for sharing this experience and what you learned.
    Keep strong and hugs to Daisy.

  28. sfratzke
    February 23, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    As many others have said, it’s never easy to know the right thing to do, but it’s very easy to question yourself and worry and wonder ‘what if.’ I went through all of this with Rufus after his back surgery, but I finally had to let go of all of that and just enjoy whatever time I have with him. Be grateful for each day and every minute (which I know you are.) You always do the very best that you can for your furry family and that’s all that any of us can do. Much love to all of you in this very trying time.

  29. February 23, 2015 at 2:56 PM

    Mel, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know how difficult it is. We just had a lump removed from our golden Sheba, also expecting it to just be a benign cyst, and it was cancerous. Hers is spindle cell sarcoma, and right under the skin so the surgery wasn’t as invasive. But we’re faced with the possibility that even though this cancer doesn’t generally metastasize it’s also messy and they can’t be sure if they got it all. Right now Sheba is doing great, though the recovery has been slow and I stress out every day that she isn’t completely healed. And I feel like this thing will be hanging over our heads…waiting and wondering if it will come back. Radiation therapy was a possibility, but we decided not to go that route….and it was not an easy decision. So I understand that. I hope Daisy continues to recover and your stress lessens. I hope that she can get back to enjoying life, so that you can just focus on making the best of each day, which is what we are trying to do.

  30. dachshundnola
    February 23, 2015 at 5:31 PM

    Hugs to you both! I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but it does sound like you made the right choice and I’m so glad Daisy is on the mend. Vibes she continues to improve!

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      Thank you so much. After hearing other people’s stories, I am feeling much better about my choice. So many dogs were lost within weeks of diagnosis. 😦
      Thank you for your good vibes! She was doing much better today.

  31. February 23, 2015 at 8:34 PM

    All of us at Little Dogs Laughed send you lots of healing thoughts for you, Daisy and all of your family!

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      Thank you so much! ❤

  32. February 23, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    Well, it wasn’t her time, thank heaven! SO sorry about this, but very glad the vet caught it early. I had never experienced cancer with a pet until my kitty Eva earlier this month, and man, does it suck. Daisy could have easily masked the problem until it was too late, just like Eva did. (Why do they do that?!)

    I hope there’s been more improvment with the bloating today and that your worries are subsiding. You did the right thing.

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      Me too Elizabeth. So grateful it was caught early. Poor Eva. She hid it for so long. Daisy did too. She was slowing down some at the dog park, but I had assumed it was age, nit low blood sugar. Her bloated belly was much less bloated today and she was acting so much more like her usual self today too. 🙂

  33. February 23, 2015 at 10:58 PM

    Bless your heart Mel – and Daisy’s too of course. I promise to remember Daisy in my prayers every night. Will you keep us posted? (I think you did what any loving pet parent would do) You’re a good Mom!

    • Mel
      February 24, 2015 at 10:25 PM

      Thank you so much Deb. I appreciate the prayers! Daisy is doing better. We had a slight setback today (her pancreas is bothering her a great deal today), but I am hoping that will pass. Poor peanut.

  34. February 24, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    Oh, I’m so sorry to read all this, but it’s amazing that they caught it early! Very scary about the food bloat. I hope she’s recovering okay from that and from the surgery. Your list is very wise. I hope you won’t still worry that you did the right thing with the surgery, no matter what happens. You made that choice out of love for Daisy, so there’s no way it can be a wrong choice. I hope you have many more years together!! Hugs!

  35. February 24, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Prayers for you and Daisy. This past year I lost my 12 year old girl to bone cancer. I understand your indecision and second guessing so well. In the end, because the cancer was on her rib cage and had likely already spread, I decided on palliative care. I still second guess myself and have days where I wonder if she would still be here if I had elected to do the surgery…. So I think whatever the decision you make, its natural to wonder whether you made the right one. The important thing is to know that you made what you believed was the best choice for Daisy, based on the information you had. That is simply all we can do. I had a wonderful 4 months with Roxy before the cancer began to cause her pain – we went out for ice cream and hamburgers every week and spent some summer days eating Popsicles in a kiddie pool in the backyard….the most helpful thing I read during on journey was something saying that chronic (or terminal) illness does rob us of life – because we will all die of something eventually – it steals from us the enjoyment of life. It makes us live in fear and when we live in fear of future loss or pain, then we let disease steal away our “todays”. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it helped me to worry less. Wishing you peaceful moments during these hard days.

    • Mel
      February 24, 2015 at 10:21 PM

      I am so very sorry for your loss. Roxy was truly loved. Isn’t that what every dog would want?
      Thank you for such wise advice. I love your comment on letting disease steal away our todays. What a beautiful way to look at it. I will remember this. Thank you.

  36. February 24, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Its always scary to think that your dog is in pain. Furthermore, we will always wonder if we have made the best decision for our dogs. I think that they best thing for Daisy right now is to rest up and take it easy. Maybe in the near future you can take her in a fenced in yard for some light exercise. I hope all continues to be well with her.

  37. February 24, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    I’m so glad they discovered this early and it appears that they got it all. My vet has always done pre-surgery blood work and it’s reassuring to have that information and extra insight into the overall health of your dog. It was a blessing that Daisy was scheduled for her teeth cleaning and the cyst removal before the cancer had a chance to spread further. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I hope Daisy is back to her dog park playing and begging routine very soon! 🙂

  38. February 24, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    Been there! Juggling how much to do, based on the dogs age, health and your own finances, is very difficult. I’m so glad that Daisy is doing well! Too much scary stuff all at once.

    • Mel
      February 24, 2015 at 10:19 PM

      You hit the nail on the head. It definitely is a difficult decision. I pray that Daisy continues to improve. Tonight I fear her pancreas is causing her trouble. 😦

  39. February 25, 2015 at 1:23 AM

    I do feel for you Mel. It’s a horrible place to be when you’re given a choice. I much prefer the decision making to be taken out of my hands. So glad Daisy is recuperating well from her surgery and here’s hoping for a long time of happiness and love with you in her future. I hope her pancreas is OK now?

  40. February 25, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    Ohhhhh, how terrible Mel! We have been through hell with 3 cats, and got to know the U quite well. Cancer sucks. I hope Daisy can reciver from this. Much love to her and you!

  41. martie13
    February 26, 2015 at 12:20 AM

    Hi Mel,
    You probably won’t remember me as it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life just took me down different paths which didn’t connect with yours until today when I read your post on Facebook about Daisy. I just wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear about Daisy’s cancer and all that you both have been through. I’m sure the worst is over now and no matter what you can be secure in the belief that you have done the best you knew how to do in this situation. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon and all of this trauma will become a distant memory. Love, peace and joy to you and Daisy for many more happy adventuresome years to come.

    • Mel
      February 27, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      Oh Martie! Thank you. I think we may finally be on the right path. We made a visit to the ER last night to see if Daisy had a blockage that was causing her to be sick. The X-rays appear to show no blockage. Thankfully. How is your baby doing?

  42. Lori Nelson
    April 30, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    My 9 yr old peke, Lando, has just been diagnosed with Insulinoma as well. We are tackling the decision to continue meds or do the surgery. All the questions you posed, I am posing now and having a really difficult time figuring it all out. It does make me happy to see that Daisy came out of surgery ok. How is she doing now?

    • Mel
      April 30, 2015 at 9:21 PM

      Oh Lori. I am SO sorry. I know exactly what you are going through. It is very scary. It is a tough decision and to be honest, it feels like you barely have time to think before taking action. Daisy is doing great. It has been 2 months since the surgery and she is as active and happy as she was before. She really picked up the pace once she was feeling better, so I know that it had to have been affecting her energy for some time. I wish you and Lando the very best. I know it is a scary thing to learn. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at nodogaboutitblog@gmail.com

      Sending my prayers and love.

  43. April 30, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    I was also wondering how Daisy is doing today; hopefully you can update us all with great news!

    Tracey

    • Mel
      April 30, 2015 at 9:24 PM

      I am so sorry! I never thought anyone would be interested in hearing more. Daisy is doing great! She is as active as she was before the insulinoma slowed her down. After all the complications, it is hard to believe that she is doing so well. I feel very lucky to still have her here with me. I actually took her up to a cabin two weekends ago and she got to swim and hike and cuddle and just explore. She loved it. 🙂 Thanks for asking!

      • coniatthebeach
        April 30, 2015 at 10:36 PM

        That is great to hear. I believe a lot of us have been wondering and definitely hoping for the best. So happy for Daisy.

  44. Kat
    June 16, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    My Beautiful, gentle hearted american bulldog, JED, is going thru this right now. At 10 years old I decided againist the surgury for many reasons. I picked the vets knowledge about this almost to death, as she (the vet), always stated if something happened to her she prayed she would come back as one of my animals.
    First, I don’t have the money for the surgury and maxed out all my credit cards having all the tests done. We have put him on a low dose of predisone and I monitor his meals closely. It has been 2 months now and I see him becoming worse, as he wants to eat all the time and becomes severely exhausted just going out to the yard. I live in Florida and it is so hot here now..I WILL NOT return to work (real estate) for the fear I will not be here for him if he needed me. I know though that a very hard and heartbreaking decision will be made sooner than later. I was googling insulinoma and came across your posts. It has helped me to know I am not alone in these difficult times. I have 2 other dogs an english bulldog that is turning 8 and all of a sudden is becoming old on me! and a 11 year old boxer that has had helath problems that has cost e a fortune as well. I know people do not understand how far an animal lover will go the save their pets, and these 3 have helped me thru the darkest days of my life. Anyway, I want to thank you for your posts and I say BLESS you all afor taking such good care of your furbabies. For a “RARE” diease, it sure is spreading fast. My niece just had to put her chocolate lab down for the same thing.

    • Mel
      June 17, 2015 at 6:25 AM

      Kat – My heart broke when I read your comment. It makes me sad that people are going through this. I was told it is pretty rare (my vet had never seen a case before), but after my blog post I heard from others who have gone through the same thing you are going through now. It is a devastating diagnosis, and an even more devastating thing to watch your dog go through. I likely would have chosen to not do the surgery if it had progressed further. Reading your words is like seeing what I might have faced if not for the luck of catching it early. Absolutely heartbreaking.

      I pray you get more time with your baby and that when the time comes, he lets you know when it is time and he gives you some peace in the process. I am so very sorry. Know my heart is with you as you go through this.

  45. Amanda
    October 11, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    Dear Mel and others, thank you so much for your posts. I have been reading them having been up since 2am nursing my 13 year old mini foxie, Jack, through several seizures, due to suspected insulinoma (symptoms started last week). He is currently at the vet on Valium and a glucose drip whilst I, following a plethora of blood tests, am trying to decide whether to proceed with the $5000+ surgery or the steroid treatment. I have been reading madly and it appears that the steroids will give him about 6 months and the surgery, about a year. It feels strange to just choose based on duration of life. Despite the fact that foxies can live to around 18 years, I wonder if his body is just telling us it’s simply his time to go. I certainly don’t want him to suffer and I also don’t want to extend his life just so I can have him for longer. He has been the most beautiful, loving gift and it has been terrible to watch him deteriorate so quickly. I will of course be guided by my vet’s advice and will let you know what I decide to do.

    Thanks again for sharing your stories.

    PS. I found the following site provided what seems to be a good summary of the condition if you havent already seen it…

    https://en.wikivet.net/Insulinoma

    • Mel
      October 12, 2015 at 9:21 PM

      I am so sorry you are going through this too Amanda. It’s heartbreaking. Daisy’s surgery was less than the cost you listed, but could it be a difference in currencies? I don’t know if I would have done it if it had spread through her body, but we were lucky and it was contained. The steroids are no guarantee. I think each dog is different. I am sorry to say that someone else reported they only had two weeks after diagnosis, even with the steroids. I just want you to be prepared that it may not be as long as they say if you do not do surgery.
      However, please don’t take that as I think you should have the surgery. I don;t know how bad it is with Jack and I am not you. This is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong in anyone’s eyes but your now. I hope that you get some answers to help you decide. You and Jackwill be in my thoughts and prayers.

      • Amanda
        October 12, 2015 at 9:35 PM

        Thanks for your reply and well wishes Mel. Jack is still in hospital and the vets are having difficulty stabilising his blood glucose. They are going to continue with the prednisolone but now add the 2nd drug, Diaz something or other. It is not looking good but, if nothing else, he is at least comfortable and stabilised to the extent that we will be able to spend some time with him and say goodbye. Oh, it’s just so sad.

        I keep questioning my decision, made last night to start the cortisone ASAP, but it does seem more and more unlikely that Jack has one singular tumour that could be removed via surgery (which I have since had confirmed as likely to cost $5,500 to $8,000 AU).

        Thanks again and hope Daisy is still doing well.

      • Mel
        October 12, 2015 at 10:57 PM

        Oh Amanda. I am so sorry. I was hoping Jack was out of the hospital. I am glad he is comfortable and you will be able to see him. To be honest, I think that your decision to start the steroid made sense to me. If they are having trouble stabilizing his glucose it may mean his cancer has progressed much further than Daisy’s had when we caught it. I also think that you are right on about the tumors. Trust your decision. I think your intuition is telling you what you need to know. I am so very sorry. Truly. Sending you my love and prayers. I know this is not an easy decision.

    • Mel
      October 12, 2015 at 9:30 PM

      I just wanted to add that I heard back from Julia, who had a 14 year old dog with an insulinoma. He came through the surgery and is doing well. I don’t know if that helps or hinders your decision, but I wanted to at least share.

  46. Megan
    October 26, 2015 at 1:14 PM

    Can anyone tell me the outcome of the surgeries? How long your pups made it afterward and if there were any complications. My 10 yo Male Weimaraner has insulinoma and it is breaking my heart.I am so sorry to anyone going through this with their babies.

  47. Mary
    November 13, 2015 at 1:38 PM

    My dog was just diagnosed and Roxanne is 13. Some days she greets me with her usual nub wags(boxer) others it looks like she can hardly walk. I am not putting her through surg. After many prayers and discussions,I have decided that I am keeping her alive for me and I cannot stand to see her suffer and on those bad days….and you guys that deal with this know what I mean when I say bad days, are out numbering the good. So say prayers to give me strength to do what I know that I must do now. Thanks for listening
    Mary

  48. Amanda
    November 13, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    Prayers for you Mary. Your strength is admirable. Perhaps my story will help you feel better about your decision.

    My dog is Jack (13 y.o. mini foxie) who was diagnosed back in Early October (see above). I too decided against the operation and opted for medication which I thought would be a quick response to something that I at first thought to be a controlable illness. However, I have since felt that the insulinoma was just a method of old age and by choosing the medication I have allowed him to live with a reduced quality of life whilst we, his family, worry about every shudder and wonder how much longer he has.

    Jack was in hospital, on a glucose drip, for 9 days and nights, while we waited to see, firstly, if the prednisolone was effective and, when it was not, for other medication to be prepared and administered. It was a torturous week and a half during which time I constantly questioned my decision, especially as the vet bill grew daily to a total of almost $6,000 – not so far off the $8,000 I was quoted for the operation. Jack has since visited the vet weekly and will, from now on visit fortnightly for blood glucose tests. He is on a diabetic meal plan, on diazoxide 3 x a day and prednisolone 2 x a day. The latter has its own side effects, such as panting, hunger and lethargy, that are taking their own toll.

    Although we have Jack for longer now and we love him dearly, I think perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight and further research, that we should have let him go at the time.

    Kind regards,

    Amanda

    • Mel
      November 14, 2015 at 7:25 AM

      I was wondering what had happened with Jack Amanda. I know the exhaustion and pain of wondering if this behavior means the end or that. I am sorry that this is where you are at right now, but glad you have him for a little time. The costs are devastating as well. May Jack bring you joy while you have this time with him.

      • Amanda
        November 14, 2015 at 2:35 PM

        Thanks Mel, he’s sitting beside me right now, all snuggly and happy but with tremors. I will stay in touch and share the outcome on this page because I think the comments and sentiments you have illicited here can really help others. Well done.

  49. ztivob
    March 16, 2016 at 9:40 AM

    Last November, our shepherd mix was diagnosed with insulinoma. He was 10 years old. After reading the comments here on this blog, we decided quality of life was more important over quantity. We began treatment by increasing frequency of feedings, then proceeded with Prednisone. Yesterday we made the decision to end his battle with this horrible disease. I thank all those who took the time to contribute to this blog. It was a wonderful resource as we made this journey with our beloved Kodiak. Enjoy your fur babies — they are with us for such a short time.

    • Mel
      March 17, 2016 at 10:22 PM

      I couldn’t help but tear up reading your comment. I am so sorry for your loss. I know what a difficult decision you faced and I know it was not an easy one. I am glad you had some quality time with Kodiak before you had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye. When I wrote this, I never expected to meet so many people who also had dogs diagnosed with the same thing that Daisy had. It’s supposed to be a rare thing, and yet the comments belie this. If this post, and the comments below it, helped you, then I am thankful. Godspeed Kodiak. You were loved. Now take your going and fly high. Be at rest friend.

  50. Jenifer Tuggle
    May 12, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    I know it has been over a year since you posted this but I am wondering how Daisy is doing? My 9 1/2 year old lab mix just had the surgery last Thursday. The surgeon took out a 1 inch (size of a golf ball) insulinoma tumor off his pancreas. It was laying up against his blood supply and ducs. He also saw a spot on his liver and took that. The pathology results came back 2 days ago and no cancer in the liver, he got all of the insulinoma and it didn’t spread! Thank Goodness. He had surgery on Thursday and couldn’t come home until Sunday (Mother’s Day) he is eating very slowly..not much at all. But more than he was when he came home. Think it was Monday night he ate something and since it has been here and there. Did Daisy do that too? He starting to act more normal which is a blessing. His glucose at surgery was 32! He was gravely. The 3 weeks prior I kept in alive by feeding him every 2 hours or less because he would start twitching and falling over. Sometimes a seizure. 😦 After the food got in his system he would act normal. I hope I hear back from you.

    • Mel
      May 13, 2016 at 7:32 AM

      Hi Jennifer I am so sorry you and your dog had to go through this too. Daisy’s insulinoma was only 2 centimeters. They caught it very early. I cannot imagine going through what you went through feeding him every two hours. That sounds horrifying. Daisy was just starting to show symptoms when the vet caught it. Surgery happened pretty soon after that.
      As I write, Daisy is laying by my side, sleeping. Since the surgery, she has done amazingly well. We still walk daily and go for hikes in the woods. Her glucose levels returned to normal almost immediately after surgery, and while we had a few complications right after surgery, she eats normally and is back to her normal self. Eating was probably the part that was hard at first. Her pancreas was pretty angry for a few days. That passed pretty quickly though.
      I hope your dog will start eating more normally as his pancreas settles down. I will tell you this, I am grateful for the extra time with my girl. I am glad you will have some extra time with yours. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have. ❤

  51. May 13, 2016 at 12:26 PM

    Thank You SO MUCH for responding 🙂 That is great news! It is nice to hear from someone that has been through it already. Moose is bouncing back pretty good. Like I said his glucose was 32 when he went into surgery and once that tumor came out it spiked to 350 which the surgeon said he likes to see rather than it stay low. It was around 200 when we brought him home and the surgeon was comfortable with that. He will have a follow up blood test to see where it is at. Eating has been his downfall since surgery but is now eating more and becoming more active. Complete turn around compared to before surgery. I am glad we made the choice to do surgery. We maxed out all our avenues BUT, the surgeon was pretty positive this surgery was going to be good. 🙂 And it was! He said not all dogs bounce back like ours did so I am so grateful for that. Thank You for your time and loves to you and Daisy! 🙂

    • Mel
      May 17, 2016 at 9:01 PM

      I am SO glad he is doing much better. That darn pancreas does not like to be disturbed.
      I am glad I did the surgery too. I worried about whether I was making the right decision (both before and immediately after), but now I am so grateful to have the extra time with her. Much love to you and Moose! 🙂

  52. Christina
    May 31, 2016 at 9:41 PM

    My 11 year old English springer spaniel, Lily, was diagnosed today with insulinoma. To say I was in completed shock in is an understatement. She has been at the emergency vet since Sunday with several occurrences of mini seizures. We have elected to have surgery because after discussions with the vet we believe it’s her best chance. Reading through your blog has helped me So thank you! I’m praying that we have the success you’ve had with Daisy.

    • Mel
      June 13, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      I am so sorry Christina. I just saw this. Has she had the surgery yet? How did it go?

      • Christina
        June 13, 2016 at 9:17 AM

        Hi Mel – Surgery went well, better than the surgeon was expecting which is always nice to hear. They originally thought the tumor was in the center of the pancreas but it wound up being on the left lobe which is better for surgery. The biopsy on her liver and lymph nodes were negative as well. She has been home for 7 days now. We had to change up her anti-seizure medication on the second day she was home but so far that is working. The seizures had caused her to have a slightly different personality at first, but every day that goes by we are seeing more and more of her coming back. Her glucose was 30 when she went into surgery and on Friday when we took her back for her checkup is was 127. She is being a bit picky about her food lately, so we are mixing in some raw diet which she seems to like. I value every minute with her and can’t believe how tough she has been through all of this! Continued prayers and positive thoughts to anyone dealing with this.

      • Mel
        June 13, 2016 at 10:55 PM

        I am so happy it went well and the numbers are back where they need to be. It seems many dogs have the food issue for a short time. Daisy now eats normally, so hopefully that will be the case for you. I am so glad it worked!

      • Christina
        June 14, 2016 at 7:48 AM

        We had a bit of a set back yesterday. We left her for the first time in her crate yesterday morning for 4 hours to return to work and when I came home at lunch there was a puddle of drool. I suspected she had a seizure so I stayed with her the rest of the day. She was very anxious all afternoon and wouldn’t eat or drink. We wound up taking her back to emergency last night at 3am because her focal seizures appeared to have returned. The are giving her fluids this morning and consulting with the doctors again about what medications will work for the seizures. Her glucose was still good which is a positive. It’s frustrating that she is having to deal with this since the surgery was the hard part. I hope we can find the right combination of medicine to get her back to herself again.

      • Mel
        June 15, 2016 at 5:35 PM

        Oh no Christina. Is she doing better today? I am so sorry that this came on top of her seizures. I hope they will settle down over the next few days. Been thinking of you both.

      • Christina
        June 16, 2016 at 1:41 PM

        The vet is keeping her one more night because they would like to see some more neurological improvements before sending her home. Good news is she hasn’t had another seizure since Monday. She has been the healthiest dog for 11 years and to have to deal with seizures now is breaking my heart for her. 😦

      • Mel
        June 16, 2016 at 9:41 PM

        Thank goodness no more seizures since then! Hopefully, it is now under control and she can just work on feeling better. It’s so scary to see them se helpless. Before Daisy, I had a dog named Indy. She had seizures too. Having them plus her just getting over surgery is so hard. Praying you guys are in the home stretch now and you can just enjoy being together and having fun. Sending our love. ❤

      • Christina
        June 21, 2016 at 1:17 PM

        Thank you for the support! Every day we have seen improvement so we are hopeful! Lily is loving all the love and attention so I am sure that helps too!

      • Mel
        June 22, 2016 at 10:24 PM

        Yay! I am so glad to hear that Christina! Good job Lily. ay you enjoy life for a long time to come. 🙂 ❤

  53. Helen
    June 21, 2016 at 3:04 PM

    Hi my beautiful Flat Coat Mo was diagnosed with an Insulinoma in April 2015. She had started with funny turns in Nov 2014 but they were infrequent and the vet thought they were nothing. The fits become progressively worse until she was diagnosed. We decided against surgery as a scan was also picking up a tumour on her liver so we didn’t want to have major surgery for an extra 6 months. She has been on Eudamine (dioxide) ever since. We have had to increase her dosage as her body has become used to the pills. She started on 2 pills 3 times a day and is now up to 6 pills 3 times a day (cost £380 a month). For the last 4 days she has started being sick and I fear that the cancer may have spread to cause this. I don’t want her to have any invasive treatment so am just hoping the sickness stops soon.
    Mo has not been the same since she was diagnosed. We are not able to take her on long walks and she has become a very fussy eater. However she still loves to swim and chase a ball. I just wanted to provide someone going through this nightmare with some information about the nonsurgical side of treating Insulinoma. I hope Daisy continues to thrive.

    • Mel
      June 22, 2016 at 10:27 PM

      Helen – I am so very sorry for your Mo. Thank you for sharing your own story. I have heard from others who were not so lucky. It is the one thing I think about often. That Daisy’s was caught as early as it was is a miracle that most people do not get. IN fact, the vets who treated her told me as much. I pray you get more time with your girl. I am so sad and sorry that you are both going through this.

  54. Karen
    July 22, 2016 at 7:21 PM

    I have come across your posts as I am dealing with a diagnosis of Insulinoma. My dog had a seizure 8 weeks after giving one dose of Bravecto. Even though vets can not “find” the cancer, they have given this diagnosis and we are treating for cancer. I think that Bravecto is poison and should never have been allowed on the market. It is killin our dogs. too strong and not enough done on the testing end of things. I have been reading for months and watching my weim very closely. Check out the FB group Does Bravecto Kill Dogs. You will have many questions as I do…. My dog was diagnosed in Jan of 2016. treating with prednisone even though tumor never located via CT scan…

    • Mel
      July 24, 2016 at 7:05 AM

      I am so sorry Karen. I don’t know anything about Bravecto or it’s relation to cancer, but it was not given to my Daisy. I think it is odd they could not find the tumor on your dog though. I wish you and he/she well. It’s a very unusual cancer and devastating for dog and owner.

  55. Grace
    January 11, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    Thanks for sharing. Our dog was just diagnosed this week and the roller coaster of emotions you mentioned have just begun for us.

  56. Christina
    February 13, 2017 at 10:03 PM

    Thank you for so much for posting your story. I’m at a crossroads right now too and have to decide whether or not to do a surgery the same exact thing on my 10 year old beagle. I always said I would do what I can for them and when I rescued him I would be the best mommy ever. But I wonder if I don’t do thesurgery am I still a good mommy..such a hard decision … everything you said was spot-on exactly what’s happening to us the same questions going through my head and same emotions.

  57. Sid Kim
    February 22, 2017 at 11:36 PM

    Wow. My wife and I are going through the same thing right now with our 8 year old Pekingese. Your story brought tears to my eyes. We are going to tell the vet to move forward with the surgery in just a few minutes. We are currently waiting in the emergency animal hospital room to see our baby Moses before they operate on him tomorrow. We will hope and pray for the best. Reading your story really helped calm my soul. The money situation is tough but understandable as we seem to love our Moses the same way you love Daisy. God Bless you and Daisy.

  58. Jennifer Stine
    May 14, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    How is Daisy doing now? Just had insulinoma surgery 2 months ago on my 9 year old Portuguese Water Dog. Was a very difficult recovery with a week in intensive care post surgery. Pancreatitis etc. etc. etc. Glucose still has not normalized. Very high and treating with insulin. Just starting to lower the levels now and hoping the pancreas will wake up soon. Thank you for this blog and all the others who have shared their stories. This disease is so rare and there is very little historical data to draw from. It helps to hear how others are doing.

  1. March 2, 2015 at 6:38 AM

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