Each time we learn that a Tripawd cat or dog has beaten the pet cancer odds for an especially aggressive cancer like canine histiocytic sarcoma, we love to celebrate by spreading the good news! This is why today for Tripawd Tuesday we are spotlighting Murphy’s amazing victory over this cancer that has such a low survival times prognosis.
In the Tripawds community, we’ve only known a handful of dogs who have gone on to thrive longer than the average survival times for this cancer. Barney B, a five year survivor is one, and now Murphy, who’s now two years past diagnosis and thriving. Here’s his story as told by his pawrents Donna and Glen.
Sometime during October 2012 Murphy started limping on his right front leg. After feeling it and checking it out I couldn’t find anything swollen and we passed it off as he probably strained it or something while running out the door with the other dogs chasing after squirrels or rabbits. After a couple of weeks I took him in to our vet who also couldn’t figure out if the pain was in his elbow or his shoulder so he prescribed some pain medications and sent us for an x-ray. The medication helped right away and allowed Murphy to walk and the radiologist said that his x-rays looked normal.
By Thanksgiving Murphy had finished his medication and had started limping again but worse than before. Now he would yelp when he went outside and didn’t want to eat or drink. We went back to our vet who reviewed the x-rays. He thought maybe he could see something at the elbow, but it wasn’t a very clear picture. He put Murphy back on the pain meds hoping it was just a strain, but said if it persisted we would need to think about going to Michigan State University and see an orthopedic specialist.
In January Murphy again finished his medications and again started yelping when walking. He wouldn’t put any weight on his front leg at all. It took 3 weeks to get an appointment at MSU, so back on the medicine he went.
In February Murphy and I drove 1 1/2 hours to Lansing to meet with the orthopedic doctor. He really put Murphy through his paces! He palpated his leg, stretched it out, had him walk for him and Murphy never let out a sound. When he came back a little while later to review the x-rays with me I felt the floor drop out from under me – Cancer. That wasn’t on my radar. There was a tumor just above his elbow, the same spot our vet thought he saw something. He suspected osteosarcoma, so they did a biopsy to check, there was a small chance that it could be a bacterial or fungal infection.
It took almost 3 weeks to get the results from the biopsy, but then they were inconclusive. Murphy and I again took the drive out to Lansing and met with the orthopedic doctor to discuss our options. More x-rays showed that the tumor had grown and was eating away at the bone, he was actually surprised that the bone hadn’t already broken. With amputation and chemo we might be able to get 6 months with Murphy, without it, maybe a month or two. Murphy was only 7 years old and aside from his leg he was healthy & active, so we decided on surgery.
April 4, 2013 Murphy became a tripawd. His surgery went well and he came home the next day. It took 2 weeks but the final diagnoses was histiocytic sarcoma. It’s a very aggressive form of cancer, normally found in organs. With treatment, only about 50% live about a year and a half.
He had a total of 6 doses of CCNU (a form of chemo) each 3 weeks apart. He had to take Denamarin to help protect his liver and had to have blood work a week after each treatment. We were lucky that the oncologist treating him was actually someone who had done some research on histiocytic sarcoma. About a month after completing treatment they found another tumor, this one is on his left shoulder blade. They told us that we could try another type of chemo, but we decided not to put Murphy through any more. It’s been over a year since that tumor was found and it hasn’t grown at all and his lungs have remained clear. We go out every few months for x-rays just to check his lungs and the shoulder
So far it has been 23 months since Murphy became a Tripawd and he continues to amaze us every day! He loves to run around the back yard chasing squirrels and rabbits, dig under the wood pile for mice, bark at the other dogs, sit pretty for treats, jump on the furniture, run around in the snow or just lay in the sun. We treasure every day we have with him and spoil him just a little bit 🙂 Thanks to the site for all of the help and support!
Donna & Glenn Hansen
Share Your Story on Tripawd Tuesday
Each Tuesday, Tripawds from around the world can enter for a chance to be “Tripawd of the Week.” Just share your Tripawd’s story and you’re entered to win! On every Tuesday of the week, tell us about your three-legged hero here in the Tripawds Discussion Forums or on the Tripawds Facebook page. Just follow these easy steps:
- In a few short sentences, describe your three-legged hero’s story.
- Include a photo or video.
- Include a link to your Tripawds Facebook page, Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog (if applicable)
All entries must be received by Saturday at 11:59 pm. One Tripawd story will be selected at random to be featured the following Tuesday.