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Confused about chemo ??
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Cleveland, OH
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19 June 2010
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10 August 2010 - 7:32 pm
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I'm SO confused about chemo.  I've read all the stuff on Tripawds I could find on it and read a few other internet postings and just can't decide.  I know this is a personal choice - but from what I see: some dogs get chemo and live for 6 months others live for 4 years -- some dogs do NOT get chemo and live for 6 months while others live for 4 years.  I'm not seeing any REAL proof that it helps prolongs a quality life, but of course if it actually does, I'd be kicking myself if I didn't go through with it.


For those who have done it, what are your personal opinions?  If you had to go through all this with another dog, would you follow the same protocol and do chemo again?


The holistic vet we're seeing feels that he can give Denali the same life-span without chemo and perhaps even with a better quality of life (because chemo can make some dogs sick).  He of course will do a combined eastern/western approach as well. 

~~~~ Denali ~~~~ June 9, 2010 OSA suspected June 17, 2010, July 14, 2010 Clear X-rays – no mets July 1, 2010 Amputation July 9, 2010 OSA Confirmed November 23, 2010 Cancer took you from me - Never forgotten, Always Loved - Forever Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors, Honoring the Taken, And never, ever giving up Hope
Edmonton, Alberta
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10 August 2010 - 8:08 pm
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I so empathize with your confusion. sad

We did five chemo treatments with Catie. Her protocol involved alternating medications (IV), one treatment every three weeks, of doxorubicin and carboplatin. Although a total of six treatments (in the following order: carboplatin, doxorubicin, carbo, doxo, carbo, doxo) were initially recommended, we stopped after five. She didn't have acute side effects from carboplatin except for a couple days of turning her nose up at her food. She suffered more from the doxorubicin, particularly the second treatment. So we stopped after the final scheduled carboplatin. We didn't really think there'd be much difference between having 5 treatments or 6 and I hated having her unwell. Compared to a lot of dogs, I don't think the side effects she experienced were that severe really but bad enough I didn't want her to go through any more.

 Catie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the beginning of January this year. I do believe the chemo treatments has given us the extra time. If I had to do it again, yes, I'd do it, however, I would not follow the same protocol. I'd have gone solely with carboplatin and nixed the doxorubicin treatments. Because of Catie's relative youth (she'll turn 7 in November) we thought the chemo worthwhile. The median survival rates we were given "for" chemo and "without" were significant enough for us to go ahead with them. We also wanted to rest easy that we'd done enough for her.

On August 13 it'll be seven months since Catie's amputation. She's still here. She's happy. Her quality of life right now is great - and I'm well aware that it could all turn any time - but we're at peace with our decision and we're happy she's happy and with us. We haven't followed up with any more tests or xrays. We're just living our lives right now and I figure we'll know or Catie will let us know when and if the cancer returns.

No matter what happens there simply are no guarantees. Medicine isn't an exact science. It's such a hard hard decision and it's a very very personal one. No matter what decision you make for Denali (wouldn't it be nice if they could tell us what they want!) it will be the right one and made with your love for her.

Good luck!

Catie - Birthday – November 4 2003 Amputation – January 13 2010 Crossed the Bridge – June 2 2011  Catie Caitlin 
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10 August 2010 - 8:34 pm
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It is so difficult to know what the best course of action is because the cancer is insidious. None of us know when, if or where it spreads. That's why the lengths of time and outcome vary so greatly. It's not necessarily that a particular course of treatment works better, because we don't know the damage that has already been done. I, like Catie's mom, am doing chemo because it is an option. It may be too late to help, or it may be unnecessary, I really don't know.

Would I do it again? Yes, but again it is because it is an option. Once it hurts him more than it potentially helps him, then I will stop.

Charlie is on base to get 6 Carboplatin treatments. He has had 3 so far.

Wish I could be more helpful, but it is a personal choice and there isn't a 'right' way to go about treating our furry loved ones.

Best wishes with your decision!

"I don't know where I am."
Los Angeles
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10 August 2010 - 8:57 pm
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I just posted on your blog but many of us have gone through this trying to figure out what the best treatment plan is.  It's a very tough decision.  Mackenzie did 5 treatments of carboplatin and according to my vet, carboplatin for her cancer is the most effective and doing 5 – 6 treatments vs. 4 which was the norm at that time has shown to increase the life expectancy by a few months.  I don't remember the stats now but there was a lot of discussion on the forum about this when this study first came out back in Dec/Jan. Because Mackenzie had bad side effects from the chemo, we decided to do 5.  As my doctor said, 5 is better than 4 and they're not real sure if 6 is better than 5.  Mackenzie's now on the metronomic therapy which is a low dose chemo and my vet is recommending this more and more to her patients because there are basically no side effects and it's shown to also be very effective in slowing down the growth of cancer.  I'm sure you've read about Jerry's success with the metronomic.  This definitely is a good option to consider if you're concerned about doing the regular chemo.  Many of us here have done the carboplatin and the metronomic. 

It's most definitely a crap shoot and every dog is different and responds differently.  Many success stories here with tripawds not doing chemo and many success stories with tripawds doing chemo.   If I had to do it over again, I would opt for the same treatment plan. As it is now, Mackenzie has celebrated her 9 month ampuversary and next month will be 1 year since she was diagnosed. So something must be working.  But your doctor is right, this is a personal decision and you have to do what you think is best for Denali. Good luck with whatever decision you make on this.

Kami (Mackenzie's Mom)

My sweet golden Mackenzie.  She became my angel on Dec 29, 2010 at the age of 8 1/2  although she was always my angel from the time we brought her home.  She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in Sept 2009 and officially became a tripawd (front leg) on Nov 5, 2009.  She will be forever in my heart and now she's running free with all of our other tripawd heroes.  I love you Mackenzie!
My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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10 August 2010 - 9:01 pm
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I, too was torn about the chemo.  We ended up giving Trouble 5 rounds of carboplatin.  My husband and our wonderful vet were very convinced it was the thing to do - me, not so much.  I gave in when they somehow managed to convince me to give one treament, if there were any side affects that couldn't be tolerated, we would stop. Would I do it again - knowing what I know now, and knowing how easily she tolerated it, yes, I would.

That said, I live in an area where alternative medicine isn't an option - it was chemo or nothing.

Follow your heart, listen to Denali.  You will make the right decision.  ((hugs)) to you.  I know how difficult this is.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

10 August 2010 - 9:32 pm
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Maggie had mast cell cancer so her chemo protocol was different.  Our vet approached the treatment with quality of life in mind- we started with low doses and gradually increased until she showed some minor side affects- then backed down to the dose that she had no affects with.  I updated her blog with her treatment regimen- not really applicable here but you can read it if you want to.

After amputation and we discovered that the cancer cells were in her lymph node Maggie was given 6 to 9 months WITH chemo treatments.  She lived for 3 years and 9 months and lost her battle to a second, unrelated cancer.

I have made both decisions- the first cancer I chose to treat, the second cancer I did not treat.  The first cancer Mag was only 7.5 years old, and in relative good health. When diagnosed with the second cancer she was almost 11 and was already dealing with mast cell and the early stages of kidney failure.  I made both of my decisions with Maggie's quality in the forefront.  In the first case I felt that chemo gave her a shot at 6 to 9 months (prognosis was for 3 or less without chemo) and because of the protocol and my vets focus on quality of life during chemo.  In the second case, when she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in March, I felt that she could not tolerate any invasive or aggressive treatments, and even the less invasive treatments would not give us much extra time. And the trade off of shots, pills, radiation treatments, and how stressed she got at the vet versus just letting her be a dog was just not worth it to me.

I feel strongly that I made the right decisions both times.  Of course it seems obvious in the first case since Mag survived for so long, and did not die from the mast cell cancer.  In the second case I will never know if a different treatment would have given us more time- and I don't really care- I don't dwell on it, we had a wonderful last 3 months and that is all that matters to me.

Fairly long winded explanation to get to this- do your research, then decide what is best for Denali and move ahead.  Be strong in your decision and don't second guess.  The 'what ifs will' drive you crazy- and there is no way you will ever know what MIGHT have happened if you made a different choice. 

Its all about quality for Denali- as long as you choose with that as your focus your decision will be right.


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10 August 2010 - 9:48 pm
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Hi hstanek,

My family and I had a dog Bonnie who was diagnosed around the age of 9 with lymphoma. Since chemo was the only medicinal option for her type of cancer my mom decided to go through it. Bonnie seemed to respond well initially, but over the few months of chemo she started to lose her hair, lose her appetite and lose her old self. The vet said she was in remission after almost 7 months of treatment, so we stopped chemo. However within a matter of a month, she started eating less and less indicating something was still wrong. Then almost a year after her diagnosis, we had to put her down because it had spread to her lungs. I don't remember the exact treatments or circumstances other than what I have told you since I was about 12 when all this was going on. All I can tell you is that with Bonnie, the treatment was very expensive and even though her life was extended by a year, I don't recall her quality of life being extended.  Some dogs respond better than others and in my case, she never really became her old self.  I now have a tripawd Chloe who had different circumstances regarding her cancer (now cancer free from the amputation), but the experience with Bonnie helped me decide to just go ahead with an amputation and skip chemo if I could help it. Regardless of what course you choose, spending quality and quantity time along with lots of love and positive energy is always good.

-Chloe's mom

Chloe became a rear amp tripawd on 7-29-10. Another tumor was removed on front leg 2-20-14. Found 3rd tumor on neck 2-2015, but she's still kicking cancer's butt at age 14. Chloe's blog

western Washington
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10 August 2010 - 9:49 pm
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Kona was given a series of three chemo treatments via IV.  I have look up again what they gave her.

She just finished her last treatment of July 30th. For us, we're very happy that we did it.  We feel like it's our best chance.

She handled the treatments well. With our doctor, he told us that there was a narrow window of following up with the chemo after surgery.  She had her surgery on June fouth, and her chemo began on June 18th, and then, every three weeks.

Like the others have said, you hear of good survivals both ways, with chemo and without.  For us, we felt that to better our chances, we would go the distance with the chemo.


            Go with your heart. You know your kid.




Kona turned 9yrs on April 16, 2010. Kona was diagnosed Memorial Weekend 2010 with osteosarcoma. Right rear leg amputated on June 4th. First chemo June 18th 2010 Second chemo July 9th, 2010      Third and final (yea !!!) chemo July 30th, 2010 ONE TOUGH GIRL this Australian Cattledog ! ***Kona's journey/fight ended late in the evening of December 22, 2010***                                We Love you so much Kona….always      Bella 9yrs, albino lab/aussie shep/pit?(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind (from birth) in one eye limited vision in other.(laid back, ok lazy 73 lbs) Cotton, 5yrs, albino hound/terrier of somesort/???(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind in one eye(from birth), excellent vision in seeing eye. (ball addict…destroyer of Kong balls…yes,etc), high energy 55lbs knots of muscle) Kona Kai's pup brother and sister as well as her buddy and playmate cat, Shaymous 12yrs (like Seamus), miss her terribly.
Pahrump, NV
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11 August 2010 - 12:14 am
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Sadie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the end of Jan 2010.  She had her first of 5 chemo treatments on 2/11 (2 days before her amputation)  She was getting adriamycin and had no side effects at all except maybe being a little tired for a day or two.  She had her last chemo in early June and just had a clear chest x-ray.  I believe we caught her cancer very early, or she's just been lucky so far.  If all stays well, we won't have to go back to the vet for 6 months.  I would definitely follow the same course of treatment if I had to do it over.  It was easy to continue chemo because she tolerated it so well.  I don't know what I would have done if it made her sick. I know you'll make the right decision for Denali.  Good luck, we'll be thinking about you.

Sadie & Lisa

Sadie is my 9yr old Rott/Shepherd mix. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right scapula 1/28/10. Our brave girl had her amputation 2/13/10 and her last chemotherapy on 6/6/10. Unfortunately, a tumor appeared in her back right leg and on 10/7/2010 Sadie's earthly journey came to an end.  On 10/24/2010 we adopted Ranger, a handsome Rott/Lab mix tripawd (got hit by a car) I think Sadie sent him to us.
Portage Lake, Maine
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11 August 2010 - 6:10 am
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I already posted on your blog but I'll post here too.  My DOG decided that we shouldn't do chemo.  I was teetering on the fence about it...even though, typically, I treat as holisitcally as possible.

Two deciding factors that Maggie said no to chemo.  1st: she was terribly sick after amputation and 2nd: the pathologists couldn't figure out, even after special stains, which type of soft tissue sarcoma she had.  So my vet suggested I NOT do chemo with her due to these two reasons.  She said she could do Doxy(sp?) with her but that was a shot in the dark.  And given the fact how sick Maggie was after amputation, she feared she would react to the chemo.

So, Maggie is being treated homeopathically by Dr. Charles Loops in NC.  He is well known in the holistic vet world for treating cancer patients.  Maggie gets a remedy two times per day, rotating between 3 of them.  She has been on this since December.

I don't regret my decisions on her treatments.  None of us really know when the time has come for our dogs to part company with us but I know in my heart, I've done the best I can for Mags.  You will too for Denali. 

Tracy, Maggie's Mom

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09 Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13
Golden Girls
11 August 2010 - 7:36 am
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We have no regrets about Skyler going through chemo. She did 8 weekly rounds of Vinblastin (iv) and took one cytoxin tablet every day for 1 week, and then every other day after that. She had no side effects at all. It's unfortunate that it didn't help her in the end, but we gave it a shot. Our decision was made out of love, just as your decision will be. Whether we would do this again if Chloe got diagnosed with cancer - just don't know....


Hang in there. Whatever you decide will be the right decision for you and Denali. She is just tooooo cute!

Paws crossed!



Scottsburg, IN
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11 August 2010 - 10:13 am
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I chose the same route as Tracy, going through Dr. Loops.  He does phone consults, so you don't have to actually visit his office.   There's a few reasons I chose this route. 

1) we had only had Roxy about 7 months at time of diagnosis (she was a stray) so I didn't know her well enough to be able to judge how she would take it 

2) financially, it would have been a very tight stretch to do chemo.  But I wanted to do something for her.  I wouldn't have been able to find peace if I didn't

3) The odds I was given for her were dead within 2 months.  If she only had 2 months I didn't want to take any chance that she would be unnecessarily sick during that time.  (I know it's not 100% that she would have been sick, but I didn't want to take chances)


I'm sure there were other thoughts going through my head at the time, but they seem to be irrelevant because I can't remember them.  aw-shucks  I don't regret this path at all.  I don't know what's going on internally with her, but what I see is amazing. 



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11 August 2010 - 4:02 pm
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Whether or not to chemo is a confusing topic. You will find previous threads with this same question. I opted for Chemo, and the oncologist wanted to alternate Cisplatin with Doxyrubin. We ended up alternating Carboplatin with Doxyrubin. However, I found a lump, which was an OSA met, the night before the 3rd treatment, so the chemo was stopped (after that we began metronomics). My Tazzie lived well for 4&1/2 months post-amp.

Would I do it again? Hard to say, but probably not. If I did do chemo, I also would opt for the 6 (or even 4) Carboplatin rather than another protocol, regardless of how much my oncologist indicated that they had results that would trump the studies out there. My dog did have some side effects (especially from the Doxy, which I would never use again although some dogs used it without any troubles), so I basically had to assume he would feel a bit under the weather for a few days or more following a treatment.

As you say, there is enormous variation in life expectancy for dogs that have had chemo and for dogs with no chemo. Anyone hanging around here for a few months sees that variation.

Zaks mom
13 August 2010 - 11:15 am
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 hstanek said:

I'm not seeing any REAL proof that it helps prolongs a quality life, but of course if it actually does, I'd be kicking myself if I didn't go through with it. 

For those who have done it, what are your personal opinions?  If you had to go through all this with another dog, would you follow the same protocol and do chemo again?

 In all the studies chemo does improve survival times.. the issues are its cancer & it does what it wants!! My approach was to try & give Zak the best odds possible without his suffering. I said I'd do one round & see how it went. It went well. I did Carboplatin & then followed with Doxorubicin. 
 I would do both again in a heartbeat. the only side effrects were colitis (diah) & loss of appetite for a few days. Well worth it IMO for a chance at a longer life..  95% of dogs don't suffer serious (life threating) side effects so it not like with humans.. 
Wishing you both the best -

Jenna & Zak

12 yr old Rtvr 

 Dx front leg 1/24/09

Amp 1/29/09

Carboplatin SR 2/5/09, 3/6/09, 4/3/09, 5/1/09

Doxorubicin 6/12/09, 6/26/09, 7/17/09, 8/07/09, 9/01/09

Here and Now

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13 August 2010 - 12:28 pm
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Zaks mom said:

For those who have done it, what are your personal opinions?

You might want to review the feedback in this existing forum topic: Regrets about Chemotherapy

This article from Colorado State university might also be helpful: Chemotherapy Questions and Answers

"Dogs are born with three legs and a spare."
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