Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Munson update

P1130833I’ve had some talks with various veterinary specialists at SASH over the last few hours.

First the best news: a CT scan shows no evidence of any metastasis of the cancer into his chest cavity. It’s conceivable that there are diabolical cancer-lets lurking at sizes below the screening resolution, but I’m not going to complain because my cup is 0.003% empty.

The good news is that the actual lump should be removable without any amputation BUT it pushes us towards a greater reliance on follow-up chemo/radiation therapy as some of the tiny outer fringes of the tumour remain, with the capacity to regrow and metastasize. 

There is a possibility of treating  the lump with just chemotherapy but if Munson is going to have any social future then the lump has to go – not least because it may continue to grow and threaten further complications. I’ve had to keep him nearby and leashed at the park because other dogs sniff out the problem and start bothering him. It’s also enough of an irritation to him that it he’s going to spend an inordinate amount of time licking it. So, out out damn lump!

The next hurdle  (the not-so good) is mostly financial as the running hospital tally CT scan, surgery and associated costs of anaesthesia, analgesia and is currently sitting around the $6k serious ouch mark. The operation won’t start without a 50% deposit and then the rest immediately on delivery. No negotiation. I was actually rather angry with their delivery of news as the information on costs came only after much delay and then with a “shall we book him in for surgery in the morning” question as if coming up with the money on short notice was not an issue.

Just as I was digesting this information and applying for a loan, the oncologist called to spring the news that the optimal after-surgery requirement was special radiation treatment for a further $6500 – but it’s only available in Brisbane, so add a few more thou for transport and accommodation. The local radiation ( a bargain at $4K ) was offered as a fall-back or, a year of chemotherapy at about $500 per month. I understand that costs are high (and not subsidised as human patients are, and insurance covers a fraction of the costs) and they mean well, but the communication of costs and treatment choices has been rather poor.

For now, Munson is still at the hospital awaiting a familiar face , luckily oblivious to the difficult choices being made for him. The decisions made over the coming days may have bigger ramifications for our household, bringing forward other matters to consider. Is it time for a move to the country ?!?!

Finally, I’d like to say thank you to all those of you who’ve sent in messages of good will here, via email, Facebook, YouTube , on the street and by phone. I want Munson to be around to enchant many more good people as he does me every day.


  1. Paws khrossed from here for all of you -

    Khyra and Her Mom

  2. After losing Holly to cancer in March, I know how devastating this diagnosis is. Luckily, Munson has a chance to fight his. I will be sending lots of prayers for him!

    Khady Lynn and mom Jan

  3. Anonymous1:57 am

    My heart goes out to you and Munson. I faced a very expensive, but not life-threatening situation in the past with one of my beloved furkids. When all was said and done, I drove myself to the brink of financial ruin, but I shared five more years with my Kira. :) I'd do it again, given the same circumstances, but then, 'circumstances' rarely repeat themselves in the same exact way. We all as pet caretakers have to weigh these heavy, heart wrenching decisions, and what ever we decide, is always the right choice for *us*. I look forward to hearing about your travels with Munson as the years go on. Positive vibes going to ya!!

  4. Good luck Mike...glad to hear the diagnosis is more positive...

  5. Best wishes and good thoughts from Seattle! The money part just stinks :(

  6. Anonymous9:42 am

    Mike - I commented on your Eveleigh markets post re our mal Humphrey and that we have been relocated to Brisbane from Sydney. My point is - I am in Brisbane and know the love you have for Munson. You can stay with us up here if you need, and if you think the dogs will tolerate each other. Perhaps give me your email address if you want to discuss further. All the best, Peita & Humphrey. Xxx

    1. That's very very kind of you - I'll let you know how things progress with post-surgical care. Mike

  7. Mike, how about setting up a project on (for one example) Pozible??