Hemangiosarcoma in the liver

Missy had an ultrasound earlier this week and the news was sobering: Her liver has multiple tumors, likely hemangiosarcoma.

After surviving hemangiosarcoma for 37 months, it’s weirdly surprising that it’s finally taken root in another organ. It’s not like we didn’t know this is coming. But we had gotten used to her surviving, you know?

We don’t know how long she has. Days? Weeks? Our vet thinks no more than a few months, since she’s already showing symptoms of liver problems. She’s now on Denamarin to try to support her liver and isn’t vomiting bile first thing in the morning anymore. We’re to watch for symptoms of increasing pain and jaundice, indicators the end is approaching.

We actually thought we were losing her yesterday morning. When we got up, Missy didn’t. She just stayed in her bed. When I lifted her out of her bed and put her on the floor, all four legs collapsed under her. I picked her up again and her body was like a wet noodle — just hanging there.

We took her outside and held her up with a leash strap under her belly, trying to get her to relieve herself. After about a minute, she was able to stand on her own, though she kept turning toward the sound of our voices and walking into our legs. It was like she couldn’t see. Then in another minute or so, she returned to a wobbly normal. And a few minutes after that, she was completely normal.

The same thing happened this morning. We don’t really know what’s going on there.

We will not let her suffer in order to postpone our own suffering. And while we’re overjoyed that we got 37 months we didn’t think we’d get, we are so deeply saddened by what’s coming for our little trouper.

12 Replies to “Hemangiosarcoma in the liver”

  1. I am so sorry to read about your Miss Supergirl Missy. You have been so fortunate to have her for so long. I just lost “Little Dog” on Tuesday to Hemangio and Multiple Myeloma. He was only 7 and 1/2. He was the third possibly fourth dog I have lost to this wretched disease. So hard to wrap your brain around this cancer and how devastating it is. I took him to the emergency room on Sat. He had a seizure, I thought he was bleeding out. His hematocrit actually went up. He was hospitalized and given fluids. He did great on Monday considering what he had been through on Sat. I thought I had bought more time, I was wrong. He started refusing his food again. He was bumping the wall when he walked. I hoped he just needed more fluids and took him to my vet on Tuesday and left him for the day. They did an ultrasound and he was loaded with tumors. I thought I was picking him up to come home. They said I could come and get him. When I got there they gave me the news…I had to let him go. He only lived a little over a month since his diagnosis. I threw everything at it including chemo for both cancers. I had to stop the chemo after only six doses. Turkey Tail, Yunnan, pred special food. In a way I wish I would have let him go when he was feeling rotten. I just thought he would feel better again. Sorry to give you my story, I just kept thinking he would rally.

    Love that little girl as big as you can which is always the way you have loved her. I am so happy you all have had each other for so long and continue to do so. My best thoughts to all of you.


    1. Oh, Kacy, I’m so sorry about Little Dog. It is such a wretched disease and it gives you so little time to prepare. You sure did everything you could to try to give Little Dog a fighting chance. Big hug to you.


  2. When Lady my Australian Shepherd was diagnosed, we sought a second opinion. Unfortunately the second opinion concurred with the first. I attempted to contact Dr Ronald Levy at Stanford University in reference to his recent clinical trial in which 87 out of 90 subjects were cured with his discovery. I was never able to get a response. Hoping if you’re up for it, you may have a better result. Lady was put to rest on March 2nd.


    1. So sorry you lost Lady, Larry. In Missy’s case, this would be a recurrence of hemangiosarcoma, since she’s survived 37 months since the original pathology and removal of her spleen in 2015. I am aware of no clinical trials looking at recurrence, since, sadly, very few dogs live long enough for recurrence to be an issue.


  3. My heart goes out to you. What a terrible decision you will have to make. When? Please know that there are others out there who totally understand what you are going through and how your lives will change one day soon. Heart breaking.


    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I’m glad to hear Soda is doing a bit better, but sorry about the lump in her armpit. Do you know what the lump is? Missy has had lipomas here and there, all benign, but they’ve sure given us a scare here and there.


  4. Soda is just getting better and she has her 4th chemo on Tuesday. She didn’t even want to walk a couple days this week. She kept lifting up her front paws and nothing was there. We thought perhaps nerve pain. And we found a lump under her front right armpit that just crushed me when I felt it.


  5. I am deeply touched by what is going on with Missy now. Maybe you remember me as I had been in touch with you before, from Argentina. My dog, Luli, had a surgery in Agust 2017, when her spleen was removed and, same as with Missy, there was no rupture of the tumor. It was hemangiosarcoma as well and I was devastated then. I also tried chemotherapy with her but she had to be hospitalized a few days after the very first round. The same drugs that had been administered to Missy were used with Luli, as I could check with you later, but unfortunately my dog could not resist Doxorubicin and almost died then. She survived a terrible gastroenteritis as a consequence but she got well after an entire month. She was not fortunate enough, though, to survive longer than 6 months after her surgery, the usual life expectancy, according to some statistics. The last ultrasound scan that Luli had in February this year revealed that the size of her liver had increased as there were metastases there (hemangiosarcoma, again). According to her vet, that aggressive type of cancer had always been there, as a silent killer, in her cells. She appeared to be fine indeed -incredibly active at times- until she started to vomit often and did not want to go for her usual walk (something that she loved doing). She started to behave in an unusual way and wanted to eat soil from my pots. Maybe she was in need of some kind of natural relief. She was on lots of meds to help her with her digestive problems -many of them were for humans but the vet (her oncologist) told me how to administer them for my dog. Then, Luli also looked tired and sad. When I could finally walk her out, she was afraid -probably of other dogs in the street that might take advantage of her weakness- and she wanted to go back home at once. I took my yearly vacations at work just to look after her and I am glad I did this. I was with her for two weeks with several trips to the vet’s, where she had always been treated with affection. The last day of my vacations (Friday, March 9th) I took her to the vet’s for the last time and helped her to die peacefully, mercifully. I was by her side, all the time, crying in silence and petting her. It was one of the worst decisions I had to make in my life, but she did not deserve to hurt more. I don’t know if she could still survive for some days or weeks then, but hemangiosarcoma had already taken her liver. It had won the last battle. That’s a horrible disease! I miss Luli terribly. My little home is empty. She was my best friend ever and my sole companion. She was my family. However, I had to let her go and I know that at least I tried to do my best for her and you and your husband also do it for Missy. Be strong. My thoughts and heart are with you.


    1. Gabriela, I’m so sad to learn of Luli’s passing. I know you were so dedicated to saving her and doing everything in your power to make her happy and comfortable in the face of a terrible disease. I am glad you were able to be with her at the end. You must be very strong to have been able to cry in silence for her — I fear we will bawl and upset Missy at the end. You did right by Luli all the way through and I hope that brings you some solace.


      1. Thank you very much, Tammy. I cried in silence and did not take her collar out. I pretended that it was just another visit to the vet’s. She was not in agony because I had promised to myself that I would not let her hurt that much. She did not deserve it. No animal does. She just fell asleep. No pain. It was and still is very hard for me but since the very first moment we adopt them, we have a responsibility and it will last as long as they are alive, until the end. Hugs to you from Argentina and all the best to Missy. You have a beautiful champion in her and she could not be in better hands.


  6. Tammy, thank you for all of your posts. My 6 yr old Weimaraner was just diagnosed with the subdermal form of this disease. We have an appointment with an oncology vet on Wednesday. Reading through your posts has been so helpful. I am so sorry to hear that the cancer is now in Missy’s liver. Wishing you the best.


    1. Lori, thanks for the well wishes. I’m glad you found the site helpful as you begin your own journey with your dog. Missy’s holding strong for now and we’re very grateful to have gotten 3 years we never thought we’d get. Please come back and keep me posted on how things are going with your dog!


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