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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good day everyone,
After her second blood test yesterday, our little Hermione has been diagnosed with Liver Cancer.
We've decided to treat her with Prednisolone alone (as opposed to Chemo and Pred), and she'll be starting that on Tuesday. (She's been on Metacam for 2 weeks and we need to let that get out of her system before moving on to the Pred. We started her on some Famotidine yesterday, which she'll continue for the next week. She'll also be on Clavamox for the next week)

An unfortunate thing that I've noticed about these forums is that it seems many of you have encountered cancer at some point in your hedgie-parenthoods, so I come here with a few questions:

What can I do to make her next weeks/months more comfortable?

What treatments method(s) did you choose, and how did it seem to go?

Are there any "special foods" that can help extend her life? (I know a cure is not possible, but I do hear stories of people who changed their diets and it seemed to help them, though many doctors discredit this. Just wondering if anyone knows of something like this for Hedgehogs)

And now for a harder question...
I'm not really sure what to do when it becomes obvious it's time. Do I just keep her comfortable in her cage until she goes, or do I take her to the vet to be euthanized? Although I suppose this would be my own call, dependent on her QOL...

Thank you everyone!
 

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I can't help a ton, unfortunately. Lily had liver cancer, but we didn't figure out that's what it was until the day I decided to go ahead and euthanize her, so I didn't have much time to make many changes. Kalandra has the best advice regarding diets & treatments, so check out the links Annie posted, and I'm sure Kalandra will come by sometime to offer more advice for you.

As far as time to go...use your best judgement. One thing I remember someone suggesting (and I don't remember if it was on here or elsewhere) is think of the three things she loves most. Eating, wheeling, playing with a particular toy, etc. Once she stops doing those things...she's likely not having a great quality of life & it might be time to let her go. With Lily, she'd been kind of iffy for a few months (losing weight, eating less, etc.), and had been definitely sick for a couple weeks. She wasn't eating, I was syringe-feeding her round the clock (which she wasn't a huge fan of), and was having bad poops due to her medicine. It was quite obvious she wasn't feeling good at all, and I felt horrible for her.

The last day we went to the vet, we knocked her out, the vet realized the bruising from drawing blood was still very dark & extensive (ten days afterwards), and then found a large mass in her abdomen that wasn't there ten days before. My options were keep up treatment & give her more time (when she obviously already felt terrible), try an exploratory surgery to see if it was something that could be removed (with a chance of either losing her on the table or having to just euthanize her during surgery without me there), or just euthanizing her then. I chose the last one so I could have a chance to say goodbye. A quote from Nancy helped the decision as well - "Better to let them go an hour too soon than a day too late". I would definitely check with your vet about whether they would be willing to come in at night or on a weekend or holiday to euthanize her if she takes a turn for the worst one of those times - having her suffer for another day or two because the vet is closed wouldn't be good. Personally I'd rather euthanize before they're in really bad shape to spare them the suffering than to let them go on their own. But it just depends on the situation, so it's never an "always do this" thing.

Sorry for the long rambly story! I hope it helps at least somewhat. I'm so sorry that you got this news & had to join the forum in such a hard situation. *hugs*
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you very much for the info so far!
I have the two links Annie provided open in two tabs to start reading, but I wanted to get a quick 'thank you' out first!

And to Lilysmommy; I'm so sorry! In that instance I would have done the same thing. My husband and I were actually both prepared to take that option yesterday too, but then the vet mentioned that we could try Prednisolone on its own. I've been having to syringe-feed her for almost a week now, but he said that that could just be a side effect from the Meticam, and not necessarily her sickness. So we're going to try this for a little bit and see how it goes.
I do agree that "a day early is better than a day late". I used to work at a cat-only vet clinic, and it was so much more difficult to see families hold on longer when the cat was clearly not going to get better, than the actual euthanizations.

Also, don't worry about me coming to the forums for the first time because of this. It is the first time I've posted, but I've actually lurking around this forum and the threads for about 4 years (2 of those years was before I even adopted my little Herms. I wanted to make sure I was really prepared for the lifestyle of hedgie-mommyship. c: ) I have many pictures that were awaiting to put up on this site, and I've had quite a few replies to other threads, but I guess I just got too comfortable in the lurker-lifestyle.
 

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About the best thing you can do is to discuss with your veterinarian all the options you have available.

Ask about supplements you can give her that may help her liver work more effectively, but won't interact badly with the prednisone.

Ask about milk thistle or a liver support supplement. There are supplements that can help regenerate liver cells or help the liver function more effectively.


I'd also ask about diet changes. Ask if a diet high in protein will help her any (it can help with some forms of cancer).
 

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I'm sorry your precious little girl is sick and you will soon be faced with the most difficult decision we hedgie parents will ever have to make.

Knowing when is the right time is hard and even if we have it planned ahead of time, when that time comes we often start to second guess our selves.

Although every situation is different, I usually go by their interest in eating. I've syringe fed many hedgehogs during the last months of their lives and as long as they willingly eat and swallow I will continue. Once their acceptance of food starts to decline I know the end is coming and it's time to make the decision.

I hope your girl will have some more quality time with you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you to Kalandra and Nancy as well!

I 'm supposed to call my vet with an update later today, so I'll be sure to ask about the high-protein diet, milk thistle, and liver support supplement.
I was finally able to come across a few of your other posts with ideas last night (mainly thanks to the links Annie provided above); a lot of helpful information! It's unfortunate that this is one of those things that has to be learned through experience.

Nancy, I'm especially... relieved by your comment on food. (I'm not sure if "relieved" is really the right word, but close enough). I've had a rough day so far, thinking that since I'm syringe feeding her that perhaps I am holding on too long. She fights a little, but overall each day she has eaten at least 3/4 of the food she should before she clamps her jaw and refuses to let any thing more in. I need to keep reminding myself that she hasn't even started the Prednisolone yet, so we'll see if her food-acceptance improves after that. If not, I'm afraid this coming weekend might be time...
 
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