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Help! Trying to get through this hump that is osteosarcoma. Advice anyone? | Presentation and Diagnosis

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Help! Trying to get through this hump that is osteosarcoma. Advice anyone?
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14 April 2017 - 8:42 am
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Hi! My name is Jane and I have a happy-go-lucky, goofy 6yo pit named Zuko! He's 55lbs of energy and smiles and kisses for days!

Unfortunately, a few days ago we got the terrible news that his rads showed he had signs of osteosarcoma on his left hind leg. We don't have specialists here as we live on the small island of Guam, so a biopsy was done to be certain. I've read some discussions on doing a biopsy and how its a tough recovery, but Zuko has been doing great. His leg is definitely sore but it's not stopping him from using it! A chest x-ray was done and I'm happy to say that his chest is clear!

Since the news, I have been researching and researching and balling my eyes out thinking how this could happen to him but I am slowly coming to terms with this even if we haven't received the biopsy results yet. Through all the research I've done, the forums I've read, and the people I've talked to, I have decided to go through amputation and chemotherapy for him. My vet is totally supportive of my decision but I'm definitely worried as we move forward especially since we don't have any oncologists here for me to talk to. I trust my vet completely but it would be more reassuring speaking with a specialist. Although I have already decided on a course of action, the thought of him losing his leg and how he'd be restricted from doing all the things he loves to do like run and play fetch for hours, is just so hard to accept.

I want to be ready for whatever is yet to come so I'm definitely in need of some advice on what to expect, how to cope with all of this, and what was everyone elses journey like.

I have read that it is advised for them to be on a special diet? My vet said not to change anything but would a special diet be more beneficial or would keeping him on his dry dog food be fine?

Has anyone included holistic treatments while their furbaby was going through chemo?

What course of chemo treatments were used for you? What determined whether your furbaby received 4 or 6 treatments?

A friend said that her oncologist recommended that doing oral treatments after IV's were said to yield promising results. Has anyone else here gone through that? how was it?

and, what was it like post-amp, during chemo, and post-chemo treatment? how should I prepare? how has things change or will there be a sense of normalcy again?

Zuko

Zuko

The Rainbow Bridge

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14 April 2017 - 11:15 am
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Hi Jane and Zuko, welcome. What an ADORABLE doggie! Oh my gosh what a smile.

First, breathe. You can get through this and Zuko can go on to live a happy, healthy life. All he wants is to feel good again and get on with making the most of every minute.

It sounds like you've done a lot of reading, so forgive me if you've been here, but have you checked out Jerry's Required Reading List or the Tripawds e-books library? I would also recommend picking up a copy of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Our community has lots of tips about how to prepare and Be More Dog. Right now what I can say is this:

Many people who live in remote places have gone through this same situation and their dog sailed through it. Chemo can give dogs a better chance at beating the odds, but it's no guarantee. Nobody knows which does will live longer than the projections. We've seen dogs who go through chemo live many years, and we've seen dogs pass away within a few months. Our Jerry lived two years without IV chemo, although we did to metronomics once we discovered lung metastasis. Just remember, there just are no guarantees when it comes to chemo, so don't feel bad if it's not an option for you.

The most important thing you can do is make sure he has a good quality of life. This means monitoring his activity so he doesn't overdo things (yes, there are many things he can do and enjoy besides chasing a ball for hours), it means staying strong and pawsitive and making the most of every single day. Because with or without cancer, nobody knows how long we have on this earth. Dogs live each day to the fullest and this is the greatest lesson we learn from them.

Stay tuned for more feedback from others OK? Oh, and I think we did have a member from Guam join us last year sometime. I'll try to find their user name.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 April 2017 - 4:10 pm
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Hi Jane and Zuku,

Welcome , and your boy is beautiful, man i thought Malamutes could smile.

You have come to the right place for advice and direction to the info you will need to make the decisions before you. Everyone here knows where you are at right now and we all feel your pain. For most of us dogs have a special place in our lives, often above some of the people we meet.

We started our journey about 10 months ago, { Tripawds Blog " Dogs Rule"} , our 8yr old Alaskan Malamute Mya started limping, quickly progressed to non weight bearing. After trying some arthritis meds we had a broader X-Ray done that showed the Osteosarcoma in her right front leg. Honestly it was far harder for us to get over even the thought of amputation, but she breezed through the surgery and even the IV chemo (5 rounds). We actually had a hard time slowing her down, we also have another Mal, a 9yr old male Macleod, that she would keep up with. Stopping on the other hand was needing some adjustment. Did a lot of face plants before she got it right. Some minor unrelated infections were the only thing that really troubled her durring the IV chemo. She licked the shaved patches from the IV and developed an infection from it that bumped that weeks chemo for an extra week, same thing with a chipped rear toe nail . Be careful of the incision and stitches / staples. for the first few days at least, Mya would land hard on the amp side when she would roll over had nothing to stop her once she passed high center...  The Vet suggested an old T-shirt, sized for Mya, that we could slip one leg through to help keep it on that would protect the incision area. Thought about padding a T-shirt on that side but the extra weight would sag and padding would make it too warm.  Although a T-shirt may fit poorly for a rear leg, maybe a long skinny shirt, someone with rear leg history will likely have a remedy . The cone of shame might be the answer, we used an Elisibithian style cone {fabric with stiffeners} that will flex a bit so its not so cumbersome. Staying ahead of the pain with meds was KEY in her comfort. We used Tramadol but with that constipation was another issue. Adding plane pumpkin, canned but not spiced, pie filling that worked quite well. Our dogs are long hair with a crazy under coat so over heating was a big issue specially last summer { AC all day long }. Even now in winter if the furnace fires up she will start getting chatty a few minuets later. I saw her shivering last week out on the deck one cold day so I put a small blanket on her and she quickly stopped shivering, but shortly wiggled out from under the blanket because she was now too warm. It turned out she had a slight fever.  Her chemo was finished at the end of Nov and she seemed to be in the clear. We had a follow-up X-Ray in early Jan and it revealed 2 small nodes forming in her lungs and we started her on an oral regime witch sadly for us did not do anything for the cancer, in fact we did a CT scan next visit and it showed there were actually 5 growths and one of the first ones seen was now 5x8 cm. { 3 times its size 5 weeks earlier } We have stopped chemo for Mya now and are on palliative care for the passed few weeks. CT scan is a lot more costly but it shows a lot more detail.

At that point i asked my vet if there was any other non clinical products that might have some benefit and she told me about a holistic vet in town that could answer some of my questions. Then I researched the hell out of the Idea. I have been taking a cannabinoid produce for pain called CBD. For me it works, like night and day, for pain and inflammation. I took Mya down to the holistic vet and he did an exam and thought CBD could help with her pain and gave me a prescription. She has been taking 20mg. caps 2x daily and we recently upped it to 3x daily. when we ran low one week we could see her getting stiff and soar. there is a company out of the US that makes and ships a CBD infused doggy treat called Treatibles. They love them, we give them to Macleod now as well. Turns out he has cancer as well. Last month our family vet messaged me with a name of a herb made from sweet worm wood ??? It's and old Chinese medicine that's has been used for centuries called Artemisinin. I believe its was used to fight malaria and some doctors have done some lab test that claim to show reduction in cancer cells in as little a 16 hours. At this point we have nothing to loose with Mya and now that Macleod has Metastasise in his lungs before we have even confirmed the Osteosarcoma in his leg we are giving it to him as well { 400mg. 1xdaily for both dogs}. they have had no ill affects that we can see, and like the CBD when we ran out { shipping from out of country is a bugger sometimes} she began to get worse. until we find an adverse affect from either of the herbs we will keep giving it to them.

With Macleod we are planning to go ahead with the amputation when it gets to painful for him, but in light of the spread to the lungs already we may not go forward with the chemo. We are sort of clinging to the hope that the anecdotal remarks about the benefits of cannabinoids and this new herb we came across may actually have some merit. I wish big money and political gain would just stay out of the saving lives business.

A lot of research ahead of you hope I didn't ramble too much , lots hugs and tail wags your way

Terry

Allison

Mya

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14 April 2017 - 4:54 pm
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Love the pictures of Zuko!  I am still new to all of this too so I cannot offer too much advise but I do want to comment on something you said.  You said that with losing his leg he would be restricted from doing all the things he loves to do (run--play).  I use to think that too with my dog but to my surprise, my dog is doing almost everything he did before.  Its only been a month since the amp but every day brings a sense of normalcy. I remember crying before the surgery thinking he will never be able to play "soccer" with his ball but he is actually doing it!  He freely jumps up/down off the furniture and walks happily on his leash.  He is even statring to learn to stand on 2 legs when he lifts his third leg to pee (no kidding)!  So, please don't worry, Zuko will find a way to do what he loves to do.  Best of luck to you both.  We are here for you.

Michigan
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14 April 2017 - 9:08 pm
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Our oncologist said to put Murphy on a grain-free dog food, so we switched him.  We just buy what's available at the pet store.  If he's not on that already, make sure to switch slowly because it can cause diarrhea (we found this out the hard way!  lol).

Murphy also had a front leg removed, so we did the t-shirt thing to cover his incision, but what many people do for real leg surgeries is to put on a pair of boxer shorts with their tail through the fly.

Murphy came home on Tramadol, Rimadyl & Gabapentin for pain.  Some come home with a Fentanyl patch and some have antibiotics.  Make sure that you space out his pain meds a little bit for adequate coverage (you don't want to give everything at the same time).  You can also apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the incision for 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day. 

The first 2-3 weeks will be the hardest, but you will get through it, and we'll be here to help.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

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15 April 2017 - 8:52 am
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Hi Jane

So sorry that you find yourself here. What a gorgeous boy your Zuko is!!! My big beautiful Bruce was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in late August of 2016 he was 6 years old at the time as well, he is also a rear leg amputee. He completed 4 rounds of carboplatin chemotherapy and has been taking Cyclophosphamide (daily low dose oral chemotherapy capsule) since late December, he went for chest x-rays on April 4th, 7 months post amputation and his blood work was perfect and his chest is still clear. Bruce is still able to run and play almost exactly as he did before, the biggest difference is he can't jump up into the back of my Jeep, he now requires assistance (we use the webmaster harness), and he doesn't have quite as much stamina as he used to have. One thing I can suggest is, in place of a cone (which he despised) we went to Walmart and bought some boys superhero pajama pants and cut one leg off short so that his good leg could be mostly exposed and the other leg we tied in a knot so that he couldn't access his incision, the only downside is getting them on and off before potty breaks, Bruce likes to spend a lot of time out doors and sometimes if I wasn't quick enough to get out when he had to pee, I ended up with some extra laundry. I had 4-5 pairs of pants so that I could change them fairly often in case of such accidents and he did have a bit of leakage from the incision in the first few days that soiled them as well. Good luck to you and your lovely Zuko, I hope to see lots more pictures of him hopping around once he recovers from surgery.superstar

Tracy and Bruce

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16 April 2017 - 3:35 pm
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Hi Jane and Zuko!  I'm new to Tripawds too.  My dog Bella had her front left leg amputated on Wednesday.  Post op day 4 and she is doing quite well.  She'll be 10 next month.  We took Bella home the same day and when we went to pick her up she got up on her 3 legs like it was second nature.  This site has so much to share and such helpful information and advice. Read as much as you can - and then read it again.  I actually cancelled Bella's first appointment for the surgery.  Then realized it wasn't about me.  Hope and love are the best forces of energy to put out in the universe for your pup.  Sending both your way.

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22 April 2017 - 3:44 am
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Hi everyone!

Thank you so much for all of your support and advice! I really appreciate it.

Zuko's biopsy results just came in and its confirmed that he has osteosarcoma. Even though I knew it would come out to this, getting that confirmation just makes everything so real now. He's amputation is scheduled for April 26, which is 4 days from now. Its terrifying knowing that in just a few days he'll be missing a leg but I know he'll sail through it! He's such a happy, active dog that I don't think it'll phase him at all. I just worry about all the strain it'll put on his hips now.

Virginia
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22 April 2017 - 10:24 am
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And some ole' silly biology report doesn't mean squat to Zuko! Means nothing!! And what he thinks about this whole situation is really all that matters.....And he isn't worried about a thing!

You've gotten such great advice. I'll just add that when you do pick Zuko up, don't even look at his incision site and don't draw attention to it! Just look into his druggy eyes and tell him what a good boy he is! All he cares about is going home and getting on with life!!

Sure, recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks, especially at first. But STAY CONNECTED and we'll help you get through this, okay?

Hugs!!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 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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22 April 2017 - 4:07 pm
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Yeah, it can be scary but your pack has the POWER of the Tripawds Nation cheering you on!

You'll think of a hundred questions to ask your vet. Be sure to carry a note pad around and write them down as you remember (and don't forget to take it to the clinic with you!). Of course you can also send your questions to us too and we'll try to help.

Hope you're having a great weekend together. Don't look back, just hop on and everything will be good.

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