Starbright Leelanau

Born: 21-04-2011 Dead: 31-07-2021      (dates: dd-mm-yyyy)
Sex: Female Variety: Tervueren
Symptoms: vomiting, regurgitation, not eating well, lethargy, weight loss (though not significant)
Type of cancer: Stomach Cancer
Date diagnozed cancer: 10-6-2021
Diagnoze method: ultrasound, CT scan, surgical biopsy (post-mortem)
Medication used: Omeprazol, Carafate, Amoxicillin, Cerenia
Notes: Endoscopic biopsy was performed between ultrasound and CT scan. Though the surgical biopsy ultimately proved that Lee had gastric adenocarcinoma, the endoscopic biopsy was negative for cancer.

See below for detailed notes

Starbright Wild Isle Maserati de la Lune Questenberg Rheingold of Branock
Opera de la Clairiere aux Louves
Starbright Mille Fleurs Gourou du Crepuscule des Loups
Starbright Jalapeno
Starbright Sealed Witha Kiss Olim de la Tangi Morgane Maigret de la Tangi Morgane
Linda Purl de Condivicnum
Starbright Kachina Perfect of the Two
Starbright Fait Accompli

Registered offspring with SC or C: Registered siblings with SC or C:
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Registered half siblings with SC or C:

Same father: Same mother:
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Other registered relatives with SC or C:


The vomiting started in March 2021. At first, it was only every few days. Then, it increased to every couple days. It seemed relatively innocuous - just yellow bile, sometimes slightly tinged with pink. After a few weeks, we decided to see a vet. Not very concerned, she put Lee on Omeprazol for three weeks. After the first week, the vomiting lessened for about a week. However, by the end of three weeks, we were back to where we started. The next recommendation was to feed Lee smaller meals more often, which we tried for a month. The vomiting continued, as before, only now there were some periods when she would vomit several days in a row or, occasionally, more than once a day. About two weeks into that month, our breeder voiced a thought that shook me, "I hope this isn't stomach cancer." It had never occurred to me. To rule out that horrible concept, I scheduled an ultrasound for June 10. When two grave vets walked out to speak with me after the procedure, I knew it was going to be bad. And it was - ". extensive stomach wall thickening . we believe it is gastric cancer .". Technically, the report read, "Abnormal - the fundus wall is severely thickened with a complete loss of wall layering to the level of the pylorus. The cardia retains normal wall layering. Interpretation: Gastric mass." All internal organs except for Lee's stomach were normal.
There was a little hope on the part of Lee's vet, breeder and myself that the thickening could be a result of inflammation associated with an ulcer. So, we went full-out on the meds. We added Amoxicillin and Carafate multiple times daily, prescription diet, and Cerenia anti-vometing medication, when needed. This, however, was the start of Lee's accelerating decline. When Lee was on Cerenia, she could keep food down, but we could tell she was nauseous. She drooled, smacked her lips, and ate her food very slowly. When she was not on Cerenia, she would vomit 0-4 times per day. She stopped eating her special prescription gastro-intestinal diet, so we tried a cooked recipe consisting of rice, barley, ground turkey, yogurt, and pumpkin. Lee ate it well for about a week. Then, interest in that food petered out as well.
We had scheduled an endoscopy as soon as we could - July 6. When the biopsy results came back a week later, they were negative for cancer. Optimism brewed outside our house but not in it. For five weeks now, we had been treating for ulcers, and our family could see that Lee was only going downhill. The next step was to see a veterinary specialist in internal medicine on July 27. By the time we managed that visit, Lee was down to only eating a jar or two of turkey baby food twice a day. And she would often regurgitate portions. The internist said that a CT scan would definitely determine whether cancer was present. And, it did. The internist could see a diffusely thickened stomach and expected progression of the disorder.
Two days later, Lee couldn't even keep down a jar of baby food, and we made the decision to put her to sleep. Our neighbors were shocked because, honestly, she didn't look bad to them. She had lost some weight, but it wasn't obvious. She would have flashes of energy, and walks were her favorite times. Everything in her body, except her stomach, worked fine. But our friends didn't see the dog that had no energy to do anything in between walks, who didn't even really want to be around us because, eight times during the day, we were forcing her to take her medicine, and who didn't want to eat even though she was hungry.
After Lee passed, the vet surgically analyzed the internal situation. The report that came back was consistent with the ultrasound and CT scan - "1/3 of the body of her stomach was thickened to 1.5cm. Cancer was limited to the stomach." Two biopsies sent to Michigan State University diagnosed, "transmural gastric mucinous adenocarcinoma with lymphatic invasion."
Blessedly, the vet had told us before we put Lee to sleep that, if it were her dog in the same situation, she would put her to sleep that day. And, after the examination, the vet wrote a kind note reiterating her feeling that we had made the right decision to put Lee to sleep on that day.
During this whole journey, I was so thankful to the Dutch Stomach Cancer website. If you wonder why I am including this entire narrative, it is because I was desperate to understand the symptoms and course of the disease. I had no idea when to let Lee go. Reading the information about these dogs who died from stomach cancer and coming to understand their owners' struggles and decisions .. The information helped me make decisions. It's my hope that the details in this essay will additionally help someone else as they tread this difficult path.
If people in our situation wonder about contributing to the Belgian Shepherd/Tervuren stomach cancer study that the United States National Institutes of Health is doing, I'm more than willing to talk about that process too. I can be reached at

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