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Amputation revealed Osteosarcoma… Now what??
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
4 February 2009
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23 February 2009 - 4:23 pm
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Hi My name is Mara and I have an awesome Neapolitan Mastiff named Attila who is a new member in the world of Tripawds!!!  A little background on Attila: We adopted Attila when he was 11 months old A week after we got him, we noticed he had a limp and his front paw was swollen. At first we thought he fell in gopher hole as he wasn't accustomed to country life, at his vet visit, he was diagnosed with Valley Fever.  3-1/2 years later and he twisted his leg running up the stairs which soon after his wrist started to grow a lump which increased in size drastically over 3 months.  All along we thought is was the valley fever though our vets warned us of the possibility of Osteosarcoma.  I guess not wanting to believe something so bad could happen to our baby, we kinda kept hoping it was just the Valley Fever.  Unfortunately, it got to the point where the lump was so huge that it cut off circulation to his paw and amputation was really the only option to even saving him at that point.  Our vets were wonderful and though we were extremely scared and overwhelmed, we decided that it was time for Attila to undergo surgery.  Again, at this point Osteosarcoma was just a "possibility" and we were all hoping this was just the VF.  Attila's surgery was 13 days ago and his lump was sent for biopsy post-amputation. Just 5 days ago we received the news that Attila does in fact have Osteosarcoma and we are now faced with this challenge. 

I have to admit that I was in denial and the idea of cancer didn't sink in right away.  I was extremely hesitant about amputation which is how I found this site not thinking that Attila's case would be closer to his other 3 legged friends as we now know him to be.  I'm so glad that we amputated.  I thank Pam, Tazziedog's owner in helping assure me that big dogs can adapt to life on 3 legs.  This is truly the case for Attila and his spirits along with his appetite have improved enormously since his surgery.  He's so big that he's still a lil goofy getting balanced as he adapts but is happy as ever and I don't regret our decision one bit.  The biggest thing is he feels so much better.  He's adjusting so well and every day he grows stronger and happier.

I wanted to share my story because I'm hoping that this will help someone to not be in denial and try to do what they can at the first inclination the vets have of OS in their pet. 

 We have an appointment in 3 days with an oncologist and am hopeful that we have will have positive information.  I'm still extremely new to this and again am on the 5th day of knowing that my Tila Bila has OS.  I'd appreciate any dietary tips or ANY information as I'm reading frantically for supplemental vitamins and ANYTHING that can help him.  I'm trying to stay positive and while I want to do whatever it takes to give him a good quality of life, I don't really know about Chemotherapy.  I've heard good and bad and am yet at another cross roads.  Chemo: To treat or not to treat.  I am really hopeful but don't really know.  I just don't want the same symptoms to overtake him in a year or so instead of months.    I'm not ruling Chemo out and nothing will be decided until I speak to the oncologist but I'm really overwhelmed and scared and could use the support of fellow dog loving friends.  I just want the best for him and don't want to make a "selfish" decision.  I want to do what's best for him instead of making a decision because I want him around.  No matter how much time he has, I'm praying that his time is happy and symptom/pain free.  Can anyone provide any feedback or opinions/support on this hard decision?

Thank you for hearing Attila's story and thank you Jerry for being such an awesome dog and inspiration to so many others.  I don't know how I'd be if your great parents didn't create this space for all of us.  Much appreciation. Mara & Attila

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23 February 2009 - 5:18 pm
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Hi Mara - we're so glad that you posted...and it's wonderful to hear that Attila is doing well after his surgery. They are amazing the way they bounce back aren't they?

I can share my experience with the "chemo or not chemo" decision that I had to make and maybe that will help you in your journey as you decide what is best for you and Attila...which is the key - what is best for you and Attila. Only you guys know that, no one else. We will be here to support you either way, I have never seen anyone pass any judgment on this site...which is one of the MANY, MANY wonderful things about Jerry's place.

So...Zeus was diagnosed (at age 10) on April 3rd and we amputated on April 9th of last year. I already had my mind made up that I would not put my baby through chemo, but when we went in to have his stitches removed 2 weeks after the surgery, my Vet (who is also one of my best friends) convinced me to at least meet with the Oncologist. After our hour long meeting, my mind completely changed and here is why:

Only 2% of the dogs treated with carboplatin (the chemo protocal she would use on Zeus) become ill or have serious side effects. If Zeus happened to be one of that 2%, I could always stop the treatment. Chemo gave him an average of another year than just amputation alone. The statistics that I had at the time were 4-6 months with amputation and no chemo, 12-18 months with amputation and chemo and there are fur kids that go longer than that. She has even seen dogs 5 years down the road with no evidence of lung mets or spreading of the OS...but that is highly unusual, but it was still a nice fact to have. The treatment itself was  a 10 minute IV and we obviously had to do blood work and xrays in between treatments. 4 treatments each 3 weeks apart. Average cost per treatment was $500.00. So...I thought, OK, we have come this far and I can always stop if he gets sick or his quality of life declines. Zeus made it through chemo with flying colors...he was a little bit tired on the day of treatment and he was put on antibiotics twice for low blood cell counts (but they were not low enough to prevent any scheduled treatments)...but that was the extent of our difficulties. In addition to chemo, we also gave him 2 pamidrinite treatments each a month apart. These are 2 hour IV treatments of a bone strengthening liquid...though there is no scientific evidence that it prolongs their lives...my Oncologist said that her patients that have this treatment do much better than those that don't.

The end result so far? We will be 11 months post amputation in March (9th) and Zeus is still going strong. We have xrays done every 3 months and so far, so good. I'm thrilled with his recovery and how he has adjusted to life as a tripawd. As crazy as it sounds, he is my hero and has shown me how to face difficult life events with grace, dignity and a joy for the present moment. I have no regrets...and wouldn't do anything differently.

I hope this helps and I'm sure many others will chime in.

Keep us posted ok?

Welcome to our special family Smile

Love Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Forum Posts: 132
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11 February 2009
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23 February 2009 - 7:01 pm
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Hi Mara and Attila, I think everyone here understands the feeling of being overwhelmed. I got the dx of my 8 yo Rottweiler Cooper's bone cancer on Feb 9, and he was amputated on the 13th. Bone cancer has been confirmed (I knew that already) and xrays indicate it's probably already metastasized to his lungs and who knows where else. That said he is doing well and definitely in less pain than before the amp.

This group is extremely active and has a TON of archived information on bone cancer...it's a good complement to tripawds. If you join and you are not familiar with yahoogroups, be sure to set delivery to web only or digest, otherwise you'll get over 200 emails a day:

http://pets.gro.....ancerdogs/

I would pursue chemotherapy, if you can, like Heather says. There are also many alternative therapies - botanicals like neoplasene, artesiminin and avemar. Often a high protein/low or zero carb diet is recommended - cooked, raw or one of the grain free kibbles. Some people do the Budwig diet, modified for dogs. Supplements like fish oil, coenzyme Q-10, and I think Jerry's story outlines his protocol somewhere on this site. (I'm just throwing out some things for you to google and consider.)

My situation - remember every person and their dog is different: I don't know at this point whether I will pursue chemotherapy or not, it may not be indicated for my dog since the cancer has probably spread. I will know more tomorrow. If it's not indicated, then neoplasene may be my next best option. (Doing nothing is also perfectly viable - some dogs get no special treatments after amp and live for many good months. However, I won't choose that.) I already do raw diet, fish oil, vit E and Next Level joint supplement and just picked up some CQ10 today - can't hurt, might help.

Hang in there and one thing you'll hear a lot here is go for quality of days, not quantity. Stay strong for Attila and know that really, all you and he ever has is right now. That sounds corny, but true.

And if you have a photo of your Neo we would love to see it! 🙂

Stephan Bell
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23 February 2009 - 8:01 pm
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I'm so sorry that you have to join this group this way!  My Westie, MacInnis, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last April.  The amputation was just the beginning of our life changes... and not all bad.  He felt so much better after the amputation that he was bouncing around just 2 days later.  Then, he had chemo.  I'd heard it could make them very sick, but he never got really sick.  He ate great and had lots of energy until about a week after each treatment.  Then he'd have a couple of tired days, but nothing much.  We started walking about 4-5 miles a week (we hadn't been walking much at all).  He learned to kick up after he pottied (a big deal in his world), to jump in the air and to turn around on only three legs.  Mac has always been the pack leader of our little pack and he still bosses around the Newf and other terriers.  He's gotten a second puppyhood.

I thought this diagnosis would be the end of our lives together.  It really has brought out the best in all of us.  I wish he'd never been sick, but I'm grateful for the time we have.  We've had almost 10 months cancer free and hopefully in April we'll be at one year cancer-free.  I hope you also get lots of healthy and happy time.  Remember, dogs live in the moment and so should you.  Good luck!

P.S.  We like glucosamine for helping keep arthritis at bay.  And baby asprins for sore days.

Here and Now


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23 February 2009 - 9:18 pm
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Atilla is gorgeuos. And he doesn't seem to mind his little friend crawling all over him so soon after surgery ... what a good boy!

three legged mastiff atilla after osteosarcoma amputation

Sharing your story here is certain to be a big help for others. Especially those facing amputation for giant breed dogs. Thanks and best wishes for a speedy full recovery!


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23 February 2009 - 9:33 pm
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Mara,

Thank you so much for sharing your story and photo of Atilla; he is so handsome!!  I would see what the oncologist has to say about your boy.  Tazzie handled the carboplatin chemo very well, and we used the RuffWear harness (available on this site) to help her move around and get into the van to go for treatments.

The hardest part is over.  Chemo is generally much easier than the  actual surgery.  If you decide not to go that chemo route I would look into artemisinin (there are links on this site) and maybe other holistic supplements.

Pam and Tazzie

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