Toaster's homemade "chicken soup for the lung cancer."

What do people most need to hear and understand when their pet is given a serious or terminal diagnosis, or is in an ER situation with their pet, facing a decision about treatment versus euthanasia?

I asked one of Toaster and Pink's beloved veterinarian, Barrie Sands, DVM in San Diego. I found her answer so simple, yet so difficult to ask, let alone hear, sometimes. 

"You need to know the TRUTH about your pet's condition when deciding to give your pet more treatment or not or to euthanize."  And from whom you hear the big picture of the real truth your pet is facing, may be influenced by the experience of the veterinarian in terms of what actually gets communicated.

Dr. Sands explains, "Perhaps, for example, the vet who is in charge of the case at the time is an new intern or recent graduate, and perhaps does not really know all the factors that might influence your decision, through no fault of their own, but from inexperience. Especially in an ER situation, you might need to talk to your own veterinarian, or a veterinarian you know, or perhaps get a 2nd and/or 3rd consultation." 

Our decisions are based on the information we have. The most important thing in making a decision is to have all the variables and facts clear and honest. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know. It is so important to ask questions, consult more than one person, veterinarian, friend or family member to be sure you have all the information you need to make a good, informed decision. It is also important to make it clear to the veterinarian that you want to hear the truth, all of it, the big picture, to be able to make the best decision.

Here is one communication tip for this kind of situation:

One way to make sure you understand what a veterinarian  (or anyone!) has explained to you is to do what we call "paraphrasing". This means, in your own words, you repeat back to the person what it is you think they said- not your opinion of, or response to, what they said, just what you understood them to communicate to you. The person then confirms or clarifies their message.

I know, first hand, how hard it is to go through the process of making these decisions and healing the grief that follows. I’ve been there twice recently. It is not something to do alone. Get support, reach out, join a support group, or consider 7 Steps of Hope and Healing program to help you through it.

Wishing you ease and grace in going through this journey. ~Nancy