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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-31-2012, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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Why?

My poor sweet Custard.

Since I last was able to speak to everyone, Custard has had yet another tumor removal. That makes three in three months.

Though you guys know and love sweetums, for the benefit of new readers, she is only 22 months old and came into my care weighing twice what a normal female rat of her frame should weigh. Before she'd been surrendered, she'd been kept in a smaller cage by herself, ignored, and fed on demand. In the time I've had her she's been an exceptionally loving girl and has even found true love in big black boy Pete. She was on track to losing to a healthy weight.

I just checked on the kids today, and two new tumors have blown seemingly overnight. I didn't know they could grow this quickly, but one is already bigger than the others. What's worse, the stress of the repeated surgeries are taking their toll. Her weight is dropping rapidly and she has a respiratory issue that I am working to get under control before I can think of attempting this again. I'm not sure how much more stress I want to put her through. While the other tumors have all been benign, I'm also wondering if the weight loss and breathing issues are indicative of a shift in the malignancy of the tumors.

Let this be a cautionary tale on letting your rats get too fat.

I'm trying to be brave, but my heart is breaking. Not enough time.


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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-31-2012, 04:39 PM
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I think I can relate to how you are feeling. I adopted three mice that all got mammary tumours. This is a hereditary condition; has nothing to do with their weight. They all went through multiple surgeries. First time gives them a few weeks of tumour-free life, the second a week and the the third time the tumours returned within days. It is such a shame because these tumours are benign but just keep growing until they cripple the poor creature. Each of them had to be euthanized.

It is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to you.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-31-2012, 06:18 PM
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Oh Story, I am sooo sorry about Custard. I just don't know what to say. You know we love her so much. This concerns me too because Achilles, our hooded pudge baby, currently weighs almost 900 grams and he has love handles, rolls of fat and just all the symptoms of obesity and it has been a worry to me. Your warning about obesity in rats just confirms my fears. He just LIVES for food and it is so hard to not give in to him. I have to get serious about this.


Not meaning to turn this into a post on my boy at all, forgive me, but yeah, it was a good reminder from you about how this can affect a rat's quality of life, and lifespan.


My poor sweet Custard, dang. I don't want to see her go. She has so much life left and a new husband. I want to see her and Pete have many more happy times together. Is there any kind of hope that she can pull through this?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 07:15 AM
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Awww I am so sorry to hear about Custard. When a rat pops up multiple tumours all at once I often decide not to remove them, as I am doing with Linnet. I hate it but rats can live a long time with mammary tumours. How big are poor Custards? Where are they located? Also can you palpate her belly and see if anything is in there? ((hugs))

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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16degus: Thanks for the affirmation. It helps to know I'm not the only one. Yeah, heredity has the biggest amount to do with it. Although she's the only one in her line who's popped up tumors. I've repeatedly read that weight has been shown to be a factor in these things with rats. I'd agree with anyone who says it's never weight alone though. I'm sure it's the perfect storm scenario, where heredity starts it, environment fosters it, and the weight issue sends it over the edge.

I am seeing what you're talking about with diminished returns on quality of life with each surgery. It's almost like the removal of one just frees up resources to fuel the growth of the others.

She's so different from my Devon, who also came to me with a tumor of her own, but hasn't had a re-occurrence at all. Sigh.

@Vlad: I know what you mean, exactly. We worry about our babies. And as I said above, he may never have them because he just doesn't have a genetic predisposition for them. We'll keep our fingers crosses. Keep him on that diet though, and don't give in to his big brown eyes pleading that he's starving, oh no, starving mom! Just shake your finger at him and say it's for his own good. I'll be talking to the vet Monday and seeing what the options are. I'll let you guys know soonest.



Lilspaz: Ug. This morning the big one looks the size of a golf ball and formed under the nipple at her knee, not quite between her legs. It's growing SO fast. As in, a week and a half ago it wasn't noticeable. She can still get around well enough, but it seems to be taking all of her nutrition. She eats like a hog and is loosing weight. She has a smaller one that's about the size of a cherry tomato, and it feels this morning like there may be another forming, the size of an apple seed.

I don't want to wait until she's miserable, but I honestly don't think she's healthy enough to handle surgery.


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyseeker View Post
16degus: Thanks for the affirmation. It helps to know I'm not the only one. Yeah, heredity has the biggest amount to do with it. Although she's the only one in her line who's popped up tumors. I've repeatedly read that weight has been shown to be a factor in these things with rats. I'd agree with anyone who says it's never weight alone though. I'm sure it's the perfect storm scenario, where heredity starts it, environment fosters it, and the weight issue sends it over the edge.

I am seeing what you're talking about with diminished returns on quality of life with each surgery. It's almost like the removal of one just frees up resources to fuel the growth of the others.

She's so different from my Devon, who also came to me with a tumor of her own, but hasn't had a re-occurrence at all. Sigh.

@Vlad: I know what you mean, exactly. We worry about our babies. And as I said above, he may never have them because he just doesn't have a genetic predisposition for them. We'll keep our fingers crosses. Keep him on that diet though, and don't give in to his big brown eyes pleading that he's starving, oh no, starving mom! Just shake your finger at him and say it's for his own good. I'll be talking to the vet Monday and seeing what the options are. I'll let you guys know soonest.



Lilspaz: Ug. This morning the big one looks the size of a golf ball and formed under the nipple at her knee, not quite between her legs. It's growing SO fast. As in, a week and a half ago it wasn't noticeable. She can still get around well enough, but it seems to be taking all of her nutrition. She eats like a hog and is loosing weight. She has a smaller one that's about the size of a cherry tomato, and it feels this morning like there may be another forming, the size of an apple seed.

I don't want to wait until she's miserable, but I honestly don't think she's healthy enough to handle surgery.
Make sure to not feed sugars, fats or even extra proteins as these will fuel the tumours. its too bad she didn't get spayed during her first removal God I am sorry

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Hindsight. It's always hindsight when our babies are sick.

You even suggested very sweetly that I might want to consider it. At the time I didn't think the surgery risk at 22 months was worth the invasive risk of a hysterectomy with her existing weight problems. (Let's not forget that she ripped herself wide open that first time too...what would she have done if the incision was deeper than sub-dermal?). And I'll be honest, I thought there was a risk she might get more tumors but I really was expecting it to be in terms of months and not weeks.

I hate it that this learning curve has to always be at their expense. Will I do better next time? I don't know.

I'm looking at my other girls, two of which are older than she is. Devon and Zanna are both 25 months old now, and Darcy is 16 months. Little Aggs is 9 months and the baby of the whole crew. Could I risk a geriatric hysterectomy on my two old ladies if they pop up with a tumor in the next few? I don't know.


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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 04:59 PM
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Let's hope it is growing fast initially and will slow down...some do.

Btw at 22 months old, I might not have spayed either...its all russian roulette

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-05-2012, 09:30 PM
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So sorry to hear about this, Storyseeker. Tumors do have a way of popping up when least expected, as was the case with my Stanley. Luckily for him, it was very slow-growing, but Custard's seems to really be growing quickly. I would just leave it alone, to be honest. If you can already tell that the surgeries are taking a toll, then another one now will probably be one too many. I'm also afraid that her propensity for rapidly-growing tumors will just continue, anyway, and that it is very possible, if not likely, that she would develop another one after the removal of this current one. I'm so sorry you have to go through this, and I just hope that the growth slows down a bit.


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-05-2012, 09:37 PM
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Well said, and I agree. I know that moment when you have to decide, "Do I really want to put my baby through more invasive vet situations and put them through all that, or should I just let them be, and not go through the stress and discomfort of a procedure?"


We have all been there as rat parents. Such a hard situation to be in. I know you just want what is best and most comfortable for sweet Custard.

Vlad

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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I wanted to give everyone an update. My vet was willing to operate on Custard if I really, really wanted to try it. But I just couldn't do it, and he then said it was probably the best course of action for her. She's still enjoying her time with Pete, and can still get around, so I opted not to do euthanasia yet. I may have a week of quality life in her, I may have a month or more. I've cut out all of her controllable protein and such and am just giving her lots of love. The tumor is lumpy feeling but hasn't gotten noticeably bigger.

Sigh.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:57 PM
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Story,

Good to hear from you and to see the update on Custard. I can't really post anything that you have not heard a million times already about how hard this is to go through with our babies, because you already are very familiar with it, as are the rest of us, but we are in it together as a ratty forum family. That has brought me a lot of comfort in the past and I hope it does the same for you.

I totally agree with the decision you made because I know you made it with Custard's best interests in mind and for her own happiness and comfort. I would have done the exact same thing, as hard as it is. It makes me feel good knowing she is enjoying herself to no end with her new hubby Pete and being fawned over with lots of love from you. What rat could ask for more?


As always, give her my love, my belly smooches and my skritches and rubs. Our sweet beautiful girl, we all love her dearly.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 07:30 AM
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Glad to hear its not growing...sweet Custard. Watch the eyes my friend, they will tell you all....

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much. I was really hoping to have many more months with my gorgeous little Juliet. It's hitting me so hard because I'd been so excited to have another 'Zmei' rat. Who was perfect and squishy and loving.

It won't be much longer, but she and Pete are so sweet together I'm giving them all the time I feel she wants.


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 06:20 PM
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Oh Story, I know this must be so hard for you. I can't even imagine. But you are right, every day is a great day for Custard and I know she is loving every second, and so happy with Pete.



Keep your chin up. Kisses to Custard and Pete too. Our little love bugs.

Vlad

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