Pet Hospice: Duke's Story

Duke was a gentle giant rescued by his family at the age of 9. Two years after being rescued he had developed a rapidly growing oral mass and he was diagnosed with aggressive, terminal oral melanoma. Duke was estimated to have 3 months to live based upon pathology reports from a biopsy. Duke’s family elected hospice and palliative care instead of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy options. 

When their hospice vet initially examined him, he was struggling with bad breath, he had loose teeth over the site of the tumor, excessive salivation, difficulty eating, and he was in pain and agitated. A comfort care plan was created for him, focused on pain relief, dietary adjustments, ways to clean his mouth/ face, discussed disease progression and pain detection, as well as quality of life & pain assessing. His family felt like they were equipped with the tools to prepare for the next steps and could prepare. But…

Duke surprised everyone — he lost a few more teeth over the next few weeks, but his family noted that he seemed to be progressively more comfortable. On follow up recheck examinations, there was no evidence of cancer. He lived over 15 months longer than expected. The pathologist that diagnosed his oral biopsy with melanoma reported that rarely cancer can spontaneously regress.

Duke’s story is truly an inspiration! 

The comfort care & direction our Hospice vet gave us and “Duke” made him comfortable & extended his life much more than what we could have imagined!
— Amanda