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Osteosarcoma diagnosis, looking for feedback on options
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14 November 2017 - 8:38 am
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Hello - my 6 year old German Shepherd rescue dog was diagnosed on 11/9.  We are in the process of trying to evaluate our options (none of which seem good) and make a decision on how to proceed.  This is very hard on us emotionally!  I had never heard of the disease before Thursday, and have been on a crash course ever since.

I think we are leaning toward amputation, but it is quite expensive for our household so I'm looking for reassurance that we would make the 'right' decision.  I know every dog is different; I'm seeing that the best way to manage pain is amputation.  Because this is a financial challenge, we really want to evaluate carefully.  I'm looking for feedback... even with the pain meds Stella is limping.  We want to have the best quality of life that we can afford.  Has anyone had success choosing not to amputate, or does everyone generally agree this is a good choice?

The Rainbow Bridge

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14 November 2017 - 11:56 am
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Hi Stella and family, welcome. We are so sorry for the diagnosis, she is such a young pup! I know it must come as a huge surprise. Many of us here were unfamiliar with osteosarcoma as well, until we got the bad news.

 Has anyone had success choosing not to amputate, or does everyone generally agree this is a good choice?

Usually if you don't amputate, it's only a matter of months or even weeks before pain becomes so severe you are looking at euthanasia. Palliative radiation therapy is available but it's thousands of dollars so if cost is a big issue than it's probably not an option. But, first, know that there are no 'right' or 'wrong' choices here. As long as you decide based on your own unique situation and Stella's needs, that's all that matters. We will support you whatever you decide. Just because you don't amputate doesn't mean you can't be a part of this community and lean on us.

Yes, we've had people who don't amputate for reasons such as severe arthritis, neurological conditions, and other things that may hinder the odds of a good recovery and quality of life afterward. Hazel the Great Dane is a good example.

And of course there are financial reasons why people don't amputate, which is one reason why we created the Tripawds Foundation Amputation Surgery Assistance Program. Click on the link and read the instructions to see if you qualify. Also, if you live anywhere within reasonable distance of Richmond Virginia, a vet-friend of ours, Dr. Lori Pasternak, runs Helping Hands, a clinic dedicated to lowering the cost of surgeries like amputation in order to avoid economic euthansia. Her price for a canine amputation is under $800, but there are considerations to keep in mind which she explains on her website.

However, if Stella is young and otherwise healthy, and you can financially swing the surgery, there's no reason why she can't do well on three legs. What does her vet think about her being a candidate? Have you gotten a second opinion yet? Talked to an oncologist?

For some inspawration, just check out Tripawds Spokesdog Wyatt Ray! He doesn't have cancer but he's been a Tripawd since he was 8 months old. And Tripawds was started because our German Shepherd mix, Jerry, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He went on to live 2 great years, and we opted out of chemo too, so you just never know! And there are MANY stories of dogs of all sizes and ages who do really well. 

Of course there are no guarantees. Surgery itself has a risk, and the osteosarcoma odds sound depressing. But if you look around here and talk to others you'll see that whether we have our Tripawd around for just a few months or even a few years after diagnosis, being able to enjoy our lives together and have quality, pain-free time was more than worth it. 

I encourage you to hop over to Jerry's Required Reading List and the Tripawds Start Page to dig into more information and examples about life on three legs. And stay tuned, others will chime in soon!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 November 2017 - 9:14 pm
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Our Murphy was 7 years old when he was diagnosed with a different type of bone cancer.  Murphy was completely healthy aside from that panful leg, so we couldn't see saying good-bye to him just because of his leg.  His cancer was histiocytic sarcoma, which is very aggressive.  The lymph node they removed was also positive, which meant that it had probably spread prior to surgery.  He had 6 doses of chemo.  His prognosis was 12-18 months, "if we were lucky."  This past June we had to say good-bye to Murphy.  But we had over 4 years with him after his surgery!  He turned 11 in January and he was such a happy boy!  He ran, he jumped, he barked his silly head off big-grinHe walked and raised money for cancer awareness 3 times.  He was our warrior and we were so very lucky.  I would never trade our journey for anything.  

So if you decide that you can swing it, the time you have can be amazing.  Don't let the statistics get you - they're just numbers, they're not your dog.  Teaching hospitals can sometimes be less expensive than private vets.  

Make sure that pain management is covered adequately - Murphy came home on Tramadol, Rimadyl & Gabapentin.  Some come home with a Fentanyl patch, and some with antibiotics.  The first 2 weeks can be difficult, but most do very well after that.

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 November 2017 - 6:59 am
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Good morning, and thanks for the feedback.  My husband and I have been talking about the options since Thursday - and last night decided to go ahead with the surgery to remove her left front leg. (We are warning family that Stella's comfort is our present this holiday season, so we aren't buying gifts for anyone... I'll probably make lots of cookies and give those out instead!)

We are feeling so tender and sensitive right now... but it has been an opportunity for some good talks so in some ways this may make our human relationship stronger!  We talked Monday night about how it will be important to focus on being kind to each other, since we both feel so raw.  And, Stella has been getting a massive number of belly rubs, so nothing wrong with that... and her packmate Loki is enjoying the bits of pasta alfredo he has been getting (Stella takes her pills better that way, so everyone gets a 'treat' three times a day).

In some ways this is easier, now that our decision has been made.  Now I can focus on 'doing' - getting the house ready, finding non-slip rugs, etc., investigating what happens during and after the surgery.  I'm lucky that my job is supportive of all sorts of family issues - my boss is okay with vacation time and some work from home so I can support Stella.

I know every dog is different, but any feedback on how long after surgery before she can be left alone all day?

Virginia
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15 November 2017 - 8:30 am
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Welcome to the family! I'm glad you found us. Certainly sorry you jhave to be here,  but, as you can see from the rresponse, you are not alone!!

Yes, there is a sense of relief once you formulate a plan and

Stella sounds like a wonderful dog with a lot of spunk!   Recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks.  But once she gets her sparkle back, you'll be amazed at how well she does without that painful leg!!

Follow Stella's lead.  She isn't worried about a thing!!  She doesn't count days on a calendar and she doesn't care aabout out any ole' medical jargon!!  And she certainly doesn't have a timeframe stamped anywhere in her fluffy butt!!   Take a look!  See?  Nothing there! 🙂

You have a great attitude and clearly are open to all the "life lessons" this journey presents.   Stella is your chosen teacher! 🙂

When is surgery?   The Vet will keep her overnight.  When you do go pick jher up, don't even bother looking at her incision.  She just wants you looking into her driggy eyes telling her what a good girl she is and she's going home!!

She may not poop for a few days and may not have a good appetite.  It is important that she drinks and pees though.  She may need help with a towel sling at first.  Some dogs, kike my Happy Hannah just freeze up though.  Complete rest for two weeks.  Just short potty breaks.  No jumping.  No stairs.

STAY CONNECTED!  We understand like nomothers can!   We KNOW how much you love Stella...and so does she.   I know she appreciates this chance at a pain free quality life full of more tummy rubs and treats!!   It is IMPOSSIBLE NIT TO SPOIL A TRIPAWD!!   So Loki, that means you get more treats roo!

PICTURE!!!   WE MUST HAVE PICTURES!!! 🙂

Lots of 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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15 November 2017 - 8:49 am
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Welcome to the club, Stella, Loki, and family! I hope everything goes well with surgery! Definitely read Jerry's list, and if you're interested in more, check out my blog post on pre-op preparations. ☺ From those of us with newer Tripawds to others like Sally, this community is so full of experience, love, and compassion for Tripawds and for the broad range of emotions that this process creates. 

Hugs and puppy kisses from Brittnie and Loki

I'm Loki, the cutest guy around!

  • 1/5/2017- Suspected STS found through cytology near RF carpal joint
  • 1/10/2017- Confirmed grade 2 hemangiopericytoma resected
  • 7/1/2017- Visible tumor noted near old surgical scar
  • 7/3/2017- Recurrence of hemangiopericytoma confirmed by cytology
  • 7/10/2017- Tripawd transformation day!
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15 November 2017 - 10:21 am
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Welcome Stella and Family 🌺

So glad you decided to move forward with the surgery, you are giving your girl a pain free life with her family which is the BEST news 😊

We are all here for you and will help guide you through recovery, should you need it. 

Sending you and your baby girl a huge hug and lots of cuddles 😘😘😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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15 November 2017 - 7:58 pm
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Welcome! As I'm sure you have already figured out,  you're in good company!  The people in here are full of great advise, insight, and are just the best!  I wish you lots of luck in your journey to give Stella a chance at life.  Please keep in touch and don't be afraid to ask questions if you have them.  

Oh,  and don't forget pictures!!!

Jackie, David, And Huckleberry

Hugs,

Jackie, David, and Huckleberry

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16 November 2017 - 10:59 am
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I just popped in to see what has been going on and saw your post.  I'm sorry that you and Stella have to go thru this but maybe my experience will help.

My friend Charlie, my sons dog actually, my son is in the army, was diagnosed memorial weekend with osteosarcoma, left front leg.  We were able to manage the pain for a short time but early August we opted for amputation.  The first 2 weeks were very stressful, I didn't leave him alone at all.  I basically slept on the floor with him.  The first couple of days he didn't urinate or poop.  I took him back to the vet and he finally let loose what seemed like a gallon of urine on the exam room floor.  That problem solved it was still another day or to before he pooped.  This is just a heads up so you don't fret like I did.  I stayed home another week but could prob. have left him alone by that time, it was more for my piece of mind.  BTW, Charlie is 8 1/2 yrs old and was about 90#.  About a week after surgery he was down to 78 but has since rebounded.

He was on gaba, 2 x 300mg 3x a day and metacam 1x/day for about 6 weeks.  Off all of them now.  We did not do chemo, but right after he was diagnosed I found a holistic vet to formulate a supplement and food plan.  I went with Darwins raw food diet but now I'm using Dr. Harvey's Paradigm which is a dehydrated green "superfood".  You rehydrate with hot water and then add your protein of choice.  It is compatable with a keto diet.  If I add beef its raw, chicken and fish is cooked.  Fish is usually canned wild caught salmon or sardines.  The beef is usually grass fed as  well as the chicken.  If I run out I'll opt for organic.  I do keep some canned limited ingredient food from Evangers for those times I am rushed.  I'd do some research on food as it is very important, especially with cancer.  Then there are the suppliments to boost his immune system, again research or find a holistic vet.  

Good luck

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16 November 2017 - 3:15 pm
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Thank you everyone! It looks like I have lots of research to do - you have been helpful, as has the info on this site. We are hoping to know surgery date tomorrow - my vet is bringing in an orthopedic surgeon for the procedure, but our primary very will be there as well. I appreciate that she is honest about her comfort level with this procedure and willing to cooperate with other providers. I've been seeing her for my animals for probably 15 years now, it's so helpful to have someone I trust. Here own dog had a very similar presentation, so she is able to give her professional opinion while clearly understanding the personal aspects. 

Our house is pretty open, so we're looking at how to block off a section of a room to keep her safely contained. She's used to her crate, but I don't imagine she'll be able to access it during recovery. We have wood floors, so we're looking at rugs and mats for better footing. Any idea how long she would need that before she's able to be safe on wood? (We're actually trying to borrow some rugs, since I'd rather not buy something if we're only needing it a couple weeks. 

Thanks!

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16 November 2017 - 3:20 pm
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We still very much need the rugs 4+ months out. We got a bunch of carpet runners from Home Depot and lined paths to Loki's favorite places. Seemed less expensive than carpeting the whole place, although the "office chic" look is not likely to win us any home decorating awards.whatever I suppose it's a fair tradeoff for Loki's security and comfort walking around the house.

I'm Loki, the cutest guy around!

  • 1/5/2017- Suspected STS found through cytology near RF carpal joint
  • 1/10/2017- Confirmed grade 2 hemangiopericytoma resected
  • 7/1/2017- Visible tumor noted near old surgical scar
  • 7/3/2017- Recurrence of hemangiopericytoma confirmed by cytology
  • 7/10/2017- Tripawd transformation day!
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16 November 2017 - 3:28 pm
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Haha, office chic! Guess we'll probably be hitting the stores then, although I'll wait to see if any family have spare this. That's helpful to know you have needed them longer. 

I'm trying to add a couple pictures (she's so beautiful!) but am having trouble since it wants me to type in the source instead of letting me browse and select like I'm used to doing. Ah well, for now you'll have to take my word for it - Stella is stunning!

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16 November 2017 - 3:36 pm
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Hi Stella and family heart

You need to consider the rugs permanent. They will always give your pet more traction, and they make a huge difference. The let opposite the amp needs traction for support and balance. They will work a lot harder and have a higher chance of pulling something with their good legs if they are sliding around while trying to walk or run.

With that said, I just got several at Big Lots. I don't know if you have that or something comparable in your area. They were about $13.00 each and they are the nice long runners. If they slide too much, they make an anti slip thingy to put under the rug. I don't use those big expensive ones, just a few small pieces placed strategically under the throw rug will do the trick. Our Big Lots has online shopping also: http://www.bigl.....=price%7C0 check that out and see if it helps.

Some people use yoga matts, and/or puzzle mats and the prices vary on those too. Some are very reasonable, and some are expensive. Look around and see what is offered where you are at. I have seen them at Walmart, Amazon, Target, all over but job lots had a nice selection of rugs that didn't look crappy. 

You may have to get a few at a time, just place them strategically in places that he frequents, in front of the food bowl, in front of the couch or his favorite haunt, you know what I mean 🙂

Hope this helps

heartJackieheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, and Huckleberry

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16 November 2017 - 4:45 pm
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We did the runner material from Home Depot.  I think it was less than 2.00 a linear foot.  Our floors are laminate in the living room, hall and kitchen.  Put up a gate to keep him out of the kitchen, an area rug in front of the sofa and chair, that will stay.  Runner from the front door to the kitchen, that was a straight run and then at 90 degrees to that runner another one down the hall.

We removed the runner from the front door but have kept the one in the hall.  The gate was moved to the basement stairs, he can do a couple of steps but I don't want him going down to the basement.  He has had no problem on the laminate flooring but we are careful not to get him going in the house.  

Just before he was diagnosed I pulled up the carpeting in the living room and hall and installed the laminate flooring.  Timing wasn't all that great.

The Rainbow Bridge

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16 November 2017 - 5:02 pm
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Real quick, I'm in the Tripawds Chat right now if you'd like to talk. Back in a sec...

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