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11 yr old Golden Retriever diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma - Help!
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23 April 2015 - 12:22 pm
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Mac taking care of me after a knee procedure...

A little bit of background: We adopted Mac less than a year ago in June 2014. He is the healthiest 11 yr old GR you have ever met, and you would likely not even know that he was 11 unless we told you. His joints, hips, bones are in excellent shape. The vets always comment on it, since he is, after all, a GR. He started limping about a month ago, so we took him to our usual vet. They took x-rays and told us there was nothing remarkable and sent us home with Rimadyl. The vet later said he is old, so he might just be having pain. I accepted this answer and waited for Mac to get better. He didn't, so we went to a specialist this past Thursday.

 

I could have never expected the bomb that she was about to throw in my face. I thought Mac might have a torn ACL, or some kind of injury that might need surgery. No, this was much worse. She came into the room and told me Mac likely has a bone tumor, specifically most likely osteosarcoma, and will need a bone biopsy the following day to confirm, and to make sure it wasn't this fungus.

 

The vet we saw that day, and who did the bone biopsy the following day, made things very clear: you can amputate and do chemo, which will give him AT MOST a year, when he will still probably die of cancer. Or, you can make him comfortable and he will only live a few more months until the pain is too much. We made the hardest (but most clear) decision to make him comfortable. We thought, if he would survive after we took his leg, we would absolutely do that.

 

Fast forward to yesterday - Mac and I went to see an oncology specialist in LA. She had the results of the bone biopsy and to my great relief, it appears he has the 'less severe' cancer, chondrosarcoma. It is still terrible, and still acts very similarly to osteosarcoma, but the chances of it metastasizing are much less (50% vs. 80%).

 

She said due to Mac's excellent health, both vets agree that he is an excellent candidate for amputation and that with amputation and 4 rounds of chemo (every 3 weeks), he has a 25% chance of making a full recovery and living more than 2+ years, happy and healthy.

 

Now this makes things much more difficult. On one side, I know my Mac is in pain and I know he is putting on a brave face and acting like it isn't bothering him. I want more than anything to take the pain away from him, which I know the amputation will do. But I am also terrified at the prospect that: 1) the amputation won't go well, 2) he won't be able to climb our stairs (we live on the 2nd floor of a duplex), 3) he won't be able to run around, to play, to roll around on the grass, 4) he won't be happy/the same dog...

 

We know the surgery is expensive and the treatment is expensive as well, but we also know that Mac is part of our family and we want to do everything we can to save him, as long as he is not in pain and his quality of life is not compromised.

 

Does anyone have any stories or advice? Words of wisdom? We are so lost, we don't know what to do. We are leaning towards the amputation but I am just so scared! He is our baby...he is truly the best. If letting him go today meant that he would be better off than putting him through all of this, I would, but I just feel like he can make it through this and live the rest of his life pain free.

 

I am also on the chat if anyone is around...

 

Thank you, in advance, for anything you have to say...

 

Jamie, Connor and Mac

We adopted Mac in June 2014 from the GRCGLAR and he is our little baby boy, despite the fact that he is 11.5! Almost a year of bliss turned into complete devastation when he started limping on his front right  leg and it was discovered on April 16, 2015 that he has bone cancer - specifically Osteosarcoma. We were luckily directed to Tripawds by our oncologist, Dr. Avenelle Turner, which changed our lives and guided us through the amputation process.

Read more about Mac's incredible story on his blog: http://teammac.tripawds.com/

 

The Rainbow Bridge

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23 April 2015 - 12:40 pm
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Hi Jamie, Connor and Mac, welcome. I'm in the chat right now so hop over. I'll answer your post in a sec.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge

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23 April 2015 - 12:51 pm
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Ok, so here goes...

Mac looks like such a sweetie, what a lucky pup to have you for a family!

It sounds like you're getting some great care. Who is your oncologist? Wouldn't happen to be Dr. Turner would it? And yay that they think he's a good candidate. Believe it or not, we've had dogs older than Mac do very well after surgery.

Yes, chondrosarcoma isn't the worst cancer for sure. We have some information about it here. Any kind of cancer survival rates are a crapshoot really, you just have to do what you think is best for him and take each day as it comes. If there's one thing that cancer teaches you, is that the old cliche of "every day is a gift" really is true. This puts it into the forefront of our minds each day. Once Mac heals up and goes on to live his life, you'll be reminded of each time he does something you used to consider so ordinary. We all learn so much.

Be sure to check out Jerry's Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books library if you haven't already. I'll be in the chat through lunch so stop by again OK? And stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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The Rainbow Bridge

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23 April 2015 - 12:56 pm
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Ok, so here goes...

Mac looks like such a sweetie, what a lucky pup to have you for a family!

It sounds like you're getting some great care. Who is your oncologist? Wouldn't happen to be Dr. Turner would it? And yay that they think he's a good candidate. Believe it or not, we've had dogs older than Mac do very well after surgery.

Yes, chondrosarcoma isn't the worst cancer for sure. We have some information about it here. Any kind of cancer survival rates are a crapshoot really, you just have to do what you think is best for him and take each day as it comes. If there's one thing that cancer teaches you, is that the old cliche of "every day is a gift" really is true. This puts it into the forefront of our minds each day. Once Mac heals up and goes on to live his life, you'll be reminded of each time he does something you used to consider so ordinary. We all learn so much.

Be sure to check out Jerry's Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books library if you haven't already. I'll be in the chat through lunch so stop by again OK? And stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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23 April 2015 - 1:09 pm
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I am here in LA!!!! First and foremost ... I am sorry about Mac but glad you found us! 

I think Jerry has mentioned all sorts of great resources so I won't go into more of the same. But I will say, if you are seeing Dr. Turner at the Vet Cancer Group or considering the amputation at City of Angels (or Access I think they go by now) I can sing their praises... truly top notch. My girl, Shelby, had a different cancer and they gave her 1- 3 months and we had 8. Now every dog is different but that Mac is in general good health to start definitely bodes well. 

PM me if you want more info or local LA support!

Hugs,

alison with the spirit of shelby fur-ever in her heart (and little jasper too)

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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23 April 2015 - 1:10 pm
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PS = BTW... Shelby (albeit a smaller breed) was 13 1/2 when she had her surgery and sailed through like a champ! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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23 April 2015 - 2:16 pm
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Hello !  Johnnie is also a Golden Retriever.  He already had a bit of arthritis when he was diagnosed with OSA.  We are month short of celebrating one year from his surgery (1st year ampuversary).  Johnnie was diagnosed when he was 5 yrs old, and had surgery six weeks before his 6th birthday.  At 90 lbs, he is a big boy.

You can check my previous posts and photos from Johnnie's recovery.  True - the first days are very challenging.  However, they usually recover very quickly.

This is the video taken this week, showing the two dogs playing - where it's hard to tell who has 3 legs and who has 4: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLbagkwErqYWVplYnVYQWU5TDQ/view?usp=sharing

Hope this helps make a decision.

regards from Daniela & Johnnie

Our awesome Golden Boy was diagnosed for OSA in April 2014 in the proximal humerus, front-leg amp on 05/20/2014. Finished chemo (Carbo6) on 07/10/2014. Ongoing treatment: acupuncture + K-9 Immunity Plus ( 3chews) and home-cooked no-grain diet.   Stopped Apocaps because of liver issues.   Liver issues: controlling altered enzymes with SAM-e and Milk Thistle.  October 17:  started having seizures.  Taking fenobarbital for seizures.  April 18: started prednisone.

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23 April 2015 - 3:10 pm
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I don't have any experience with the cancer. My dog Riley just had her front leg amputated last Thursday. I had many of the same concerns as you! However, she is doing great now that the painful leg is gone. I have had to stop her from rolling in the mud and chasing her sisters already! She sneaks out of the doggy door as soon as she knows she can get away with it!

Doggies are remarkable with their ability to recover. 

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23 April 2015 - 4:15 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, Jamie, Connor, and sweet Golden Mac,

You have definitely found the best place to be under the circumstances..... My own sweet yellow Lab girl Polly also had a different type cancer to deal with, the same as Alison's Shelby actually. They both dealt with hemangiosarcoma, and both our girls beat the odds for sure, out of this awful cancer. Shelby for well over 8 months, and my girl for over 13 months. They both were given a 1-3, and at most 5-6 month prognosis. That is the very first thing to remember during this unwanted journey and give us all hope, the vets give us guidelines for prognosis, and we do all we can to beat cancer's butt. There are so many success stories with so many breeds, ages, and sizes of pups, and many for kitties as well here, dealing with amputation after a cancer diagnosis.

Yes, it is scary, and hard, and uncertain, but we all do the best we can for our beloved fur kids, and that is what matters most. They just want to live each day with us in happiness, and quality of life, so when we have their best interest at heart, you can't possibly make a wrong decision.

Keeping you all in my thoughts, and please keep us updated on your beautiful Mac...
Bonnie, Angel Polly, and new crew

Virginia
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23 April 2015 - 5:10 pm
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Thank goodness Mac found his way into his forever home with you!! Having this kind of diagnosis and expense right off the bat may just be too daunting for some new adoptees! You are a WONDERFUL family for Mac.

I'm sorry you have to be on this scary part of the journey, but nobody understands like we do, that's for sure!!

Through all this you have kept your focus on Mac and his quality...and what you think Mac would want. Based on the feedback from your vets and from Mac's vibrancy, it sounds like he should do well on three legs. And yes, dogs are very stoic and try to mask their pain!.

Just like any surgery, there are risks, there are unknown a d things can happen. I say that, not to scare you, but to make you aware, as I'm sure your vet has. That said...and I can only speak for myself...I had to TRY for my Happay Hannah as she clearly was NOT ready to leave this world at the time of her diagnosis. At first, I was absolutely opposed to amputation (and had not joined this co.munity yet). As her pain worsened, I knew I had to move forward or she would be gone in a matter of weeks.

Happy Hannah and I shared an additional one year a d two months of THE most glorious bonus time ever! We crammed in more loving and spoiling a d tummy rubs than I ever thought possible!

Some dogs do not get that mich time...some get more...a d every now and then one becomes a survivor for years and beats it!!

My Happy Hannah,a rather chunky Bull Mastiff, has her rear leg amputated due to osetosarcoma. She never was able to ha dle going UP stairs, but went down just fine. Fro t leggers usually handle going up just fine, but have a harder time going down. Every dog is different though! I jave since adopted a front legger and he sails up the steps..no problem!!

Re.ember, .Mac does not give a rip about diagnosis or statistics!! I can assure you if there is I e thing this site has taught us all,EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT and no dog comes with a time frame stamped in their butt!!! Check out .ac's butt! Do you see a time frame on there anywhere!? Didn't think so!!

Try and keep things chunked down for now. Just focus on proceeding with amputation IF that's the route you feel is best for Mac. There are NO right or wrong decisions when they are made kut of lpve!!

Then you can decide if you want to proceed with chemo. Again, so e seem to get extended time,some ot. Some live a long ti e with no chemo,, some don't. It really is a crap shoot! My Happy Hannaw sailed through four rou ds of carboplatin. Did that extend her time? I jave no idea!

Remember this also, six months in doggy years is three hears in human terms!

Recovery was hard on my Happy Hannan for a xouple of weeks. Again, some jave an easier time. I was crazy with fear and could not believe I jad done this TO my dog! At about the second to third week, I was THRILLED that I had done this FOR my dog!!! Stay connected to this community! It pulled me through and we'll pull you through!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We are right by your side with whatever decision you, Connor AND MAC make!

(((((((((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))))))

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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24 April 2015 - 3:59 am
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Hello Mac and Family!

I know what sort of bombshell got dropped on you with the diagnosis and the idea of having to amputate! I'm sure it seems so overwhelming and confusing, but you've come to the right place. Most of us have been down the same road and we all understand the agony of making the right decision for our pups (or kitties).

A couple of things jump out at me from your post. One, that Mac is otherwise healthy and two that you know he's in pain. We were very much in the same situation w/ our 10.5 yo Pyr mix Ellie (100lbs). I won't tell you amputation is an easy road, but from our experience the couple of things you mention---that Mac won't be happy or be able to be the same dog afterwards---have not be an issue. Ellie is definitely still happy! She is not in pain. And while she only can manage short walks, she still demands one each day. And she rolls around in the grass and chases squirrels and lies in the sun and all the other things that make her life full. She is very much the same dog. We know we don't have forever with her---but you never do. They always leave too soon, no matter how long you get. So we take each day as it comes and are thankful most of all that she is not in pain. 

You do mention stairs---Ellie is a rear amp and manages both up and down w/ no problem. She comes up two at a time! But they are short flights (4 or 6). Especially in the first weeks after surgery, stairs were much harder. We used a sling but she hated it. And there were times she'd yelp in pain as we tried to help her up or down. It was really hard to face we were hurting her and it was a rough period. But we did get through it. 

Denise, Bill and Ellie. 

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

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24 April 2015 - 11:21 am
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Welcome Mac and Family!!!

You've gotten a lot of good insight and feedback.  My Leland wasn't dealing with a cancer so I really have no insight to give you in that regards.  I did find the ebooks (Three Legs and a Spare and Living Life on Three Legs) offered through this site extremely helpful when we were going through Leland's amputation.  This community if full of wonderful people willing to lend advice and support. 

Sahana and her Angel Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

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24 April 2015 - 2:18 pm
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mom2shelby said
I am here in LA!!!! First and foremost ... I am sorry about Mac but glad you found us! 

I think Jerry has mentioned all sorts of great resources so I won't go into more of the same. But I will say, if you are seeing Dr. Turner at the Vet Cancer Group or considering the amputation at City of Angels (or Access I think they go by now) I can sing their praises... truly top notch. My girl, Shelby, had a different cancer and they gave her 1- 3 months and we had 8. Now every dog is different but that Mac is in general good health to start definitely bodes well. 

PM me if you want more info or local LA support!

Hugs,

alison with the spirit of shelby fur-ever in her heart (and little jasper too)

 

It is so comforting to see how much this community likes Dr. Turner, because yes! She is our doctor. Dr. Kim Carey will be doing the amputation next week. Thank you so much for your kind words and support...it is very much appreciated! If you have any words of wisdom about ACCESS and your process there, I would be grateful!

We adopted Mac in June 2014 from the GRCGLAR and he is our little baby boy, despite the fact that he is 11.5! Almost a year of bliss turned into complete devastation when he started limping on his front right  leg and it was discovered on April 16, 2015 that he has bone cancer - specifically Osteosarcoma. We were luckily directed to Tripawds by our oncologist, Dr. Avenelle Turner, which changed our lives and guided us through the amputation process.

Read more about Mac's incredible story on his blog: http://teammac.tripawds.com/

 

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24 April 2015 - 2:21 pm
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Daniela & Johnnie said
Hello !  Johnnie is also a Golden Retriever.  He already had a bit of arthritis when he was diagnosed with OSA.  We are month short of celebrating one year from his surgery (1st year ampuversary).  Johnnie was diagnosed when he was 5 yrs old, and had surgery six weeks before his 6th birthday.  At 90 lbs, he is a big boy.

You can check my previous posts and photos from Johnnie's recovery.  True - the first days are very challenging.  However, they usually recover very quickly.

This is the video taken this week, showing the two dogs playing - where it's hard to tell who has 3 legs and who has 4: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLbagkwErqYWVplYnVYQWU5TDQ/view?usp=sharing

Hope this helps make a decision.

regards from Daniela & Johnnie

Johnnie is SO CUTE! I will absolutely take a look at his recovery. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. We are going to go through with the amputation next Wednesday. We've started a fundraiser and scheduled the surgery! Mac was 90 at his heaviest, but we recently got him down to 75 (79 now after a week of unlimited treats!!!!).

We adopted Mac in June 2014 from the GRCGLAR and he is our little baby boy, despite the fact that he is 11.5! Almost a year of bliss turned into complete devastation when he started limping on his front right  leg and it was discovered on April 16, 2015 that he has bone cancer - specifically Osteosarcoma. We were luckily directed to Tripawds by our oncologist, Dr. Avenelle Turner, which changed our lives and guided us through the amputation process.

Read more about Mac's incredible story on his blog: http://teammac.tripawds.com/

 

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24 April 2015 - 2:24 pm
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annapyr said
Hello Mac and Family!

I know what sort of bombshell got dropped on you with the diagnosis and the idea of having to amputate! I'm sure it seems so overwhelming and confusing, but you've come to the right place. Most of us have been down the same road and we all understand the agony of making the right decision for our pups (or kitties).

A couple of things jump out at me from your post. One, that Mac is otherwise healthy and two that you know he's in pain. We were very much in the same situation w/ our 10.5 yo Pyr mix Ellie (100lbs). I won't tell you amputation is an easy road, but from our experience the couple of things you mention---that Mac won't be happy or be able to be the same dog afterwards---have not be an issue. Ellie is definitely still happy! She is not in pain. And while she only can manage short walks, she still demands one each day. And she rolls around in the grass and chases squirrels and lies in the sun and all the other things that make her life full. She is very much the same dog. We know we don't have forever with her---but you never do. They always leave too soon, no matter how long you get. So we take each day as it comes and are thankful most of all that she is not in pain. 

You do mention stairs---Ellie is a rear amp and manages both up and down w/ no problem. She comes up two at a time! But they are short flights (4 or 6). Especially in the first weeks after surgery, stairs were much harder. We used a sling but she hated it. And there were times she'd yelp in pain as we tried to help her up or down. It was really hard to face we were hurting her and it was a rough period. But we did get through it. 

Denise, Bill and Ellie. 

That's so great to hear. Jerry's mom was kind enough to send me a video of her german shepard doing the stairs in various stages after his amputation, and it was incredibly comforting to see a large breed doing that. I knew one day we would have to figure out how to get Mac up and down the stairs, I just figured we had more time to devise a plan. I think I absolutely have to get that special harness to help him go down, but I have a feeling going up will be very easy for him.

How is Ellie doing now?

We adopted Mac in June 2014 from the GRCGLAR and he is our little baby boy, despite the fact that he is 11.5! Almost a year of bliss turned into complete devastation when he started limping on his front right  leg and it was discovered on April 16, 2015 that he has bone cancer - specifically Osteosarcoma. We were luckily directed to Tripawds by our oncologist, Dr. Avenelle Turner, which changed our lives and guided us through the amputation process.

Read more about Mac's incredible story on his blog: http://teammac.tripawds.com/

 

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