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Ginger's adventure
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Forum Posts: 20
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6 September 2019 - 6:40 pm
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Ginger is a sweet, loving, gentle girl.  She was rescued 5 years ago, so we don’t know much about her.  We think she’s about 11 years old and is part Labrador and maybe some German Shepherd.  (64 pounds)

She loves to go on sniffing tours around the neighborhood, be petted for hours, and have her belly rubbed by her Daddy.

She had her annual checkup in May.  No issues except an underactive thyroid which she has had for many years.

A week ago, we took her to the vet for some mild diarrhea.  He found a large lump on her rear right leg.  Took x-rays (2-3 cm mass) and a needle aspiration. A few days later, she had a biopsy, and the results came back today as bone cancer – aggressive stage II.  (I’m sorry I don’t know the specific type of cancer – we were a bit too upset to really remember correctly – some type of sarcoma, so I’m assuming he must have said osteosarcoma.). (There is some bone fusion in her lower spine and mild arthritis in one hip also evident in the x-rays.)

We didn’t notice the lump ourselves.  I’ve petted that very spot for tens of hours since May but always one side at a time – never noticing that one side was swelling and clearly different from the other. 

We have an appointment with a specialist on Wednesday.

There was clearly a very large mass on the x-ray, but it was not “surrounding” the bone or even (if I recall correctly) directly attached to the bone.  How can this be “bone” cancer when there was clear separation on the x-ray between the mass and the bone?

After the biopsy, the vet said the tumor was intertwined with the muscle – he had to separate the muscle from the tumor to get to a good location to biopsy.

Everything I’ve read said bone cancer is very painful, and she would have symptoms.  She had no symptoms.  She wasn’t limping.  No loss of appetite or lethargy.  No weight loss.  No indication of any pain at that location (or any other location – even the bone fusion in the spine didn’t prevent her from rolling around, jumping, and walking 5 miles a day when she wanted to).  She didn’t want to go on long walks since the summer started, but that’s normal for her.  In May we were walking 4-5 miles a day on the weekends and 2 miles a day during the week.  But, every summer she wants to stay close to home.  This summer was no different, but I took it as just her usual summer walking slump.  When we did go out every morning, she was energetic, rolling around in the wet grass, jumping up and down as we’re getting ready to go out.  Just her normal happy self – still walking about a mile a day.  (And, when we walk, we go where she wants and come home when she wants – sometimes in the summer we do a mile just back and forth on the block in front of our house – so I wasn’t forcing her to walk a mile in these past months when this mass has been growing.). She frequently laid on the side.

If it had not been for the mild diarrhea (which clear up in a week with medication – no parasites – seems to be unrelated), we wouldn’t have had any reason to take her in – she was just there in May and was declared “perfect” (except for the thyroid).

How is it possible that she has stage II bone cancer with no indication (that we perceive) as any pain or any other symptoms?

Since the biopsy she is clearly in pain, not eating, hesitant to climb stairs or hop into/out of the car, won’t lay on that side (good since we don’t want the incision to be infected, but that shows she is sensitive to pain now when she wasn’t before the biopsy).  She’s starting to come around – back to her normal self but still not quite there.

The regular vet says he believes the leg will have to be amputated – the tumor is too involved with the muscles to save the leg.  

In humans, I’ve read about using chemotherapy or radiation to try to shrink the tumors before operating to help reduce the collateral damage from the surgery.  Is that an option with canine bone cancer?

What questions should I be asking the oncologist/surgical specialist when we go for our first appointment?

Julia Bell

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 September 2019 - 7:38 pm
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Julia, I’m so sorry.

How is it possible that she has stage II bone cancer with no indication (that we perceive) as any pain or any other symptoms?

It often comes as a huge shock to us when our pet gets diagnosed. Our own Jerry was diagnosed after a long, happy summer of incredible, long multi-mile overnight backpacking hikes. It was unbelievable to us that he could have a tumor (growing inward ) that nobody saw. And like your girl, he hid the pain SO well. But it happens, unfortunately.

Try not to make yourself crazy wondering why it wasn’t caught. This is the situation now. Accept it, and you can deal with things much better, and it will make Ginger feel more confident too. The good news is that she is overall pretty healthy for a senior gal and can probably bounce back like nopawdy’s business after whatever treatment you pursue. We will support you no matter what. 

Your vet is pawesome for referring out to a specialist. Here is a list of questions to ask your oncologist that we hope will help.

In humans, I’ve read about using chemotherapy or radiation to try to shrink the tumors before operating to help reduce the collateral damage from the surgery.  Is that an option with canine bone cancer

Radiation therapy is often used for palliative care (pain management instead of amputation) for bone cancer in dogs. Hazel’s story will shed some light on it. But try not to go there right now. Meet with the oncologist and know that you are on the right path for making a decision for your sweet girl.

As for her reaction to the biopsy: yes, it is normal for a dog to feel painful after a bone biopsy done before amputation. And based on what members have told us, it’s actually worse than the pain of amputation itself. Is she on any pain medication right now? I’m guessing yes based on the symptoms you are describing?

Be sure to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List for some more information about coping with the diagnosis and what’s ahead. And keep us posted! We’ll be waiting for an update.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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7 September 2019 - 10:35 am
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I got the pathology report this morning myself.  We must have misheard the doctor because it says it is fibrosarcoma grade 2 (soft tissue sarcoma) – nothing about the bone in the report.  Metasis is uncommon.  But it is a very large mass (8 cm).  So, maybe they will still need to amputate to get it all out, but the report says that if it is excised, recurrence is unusual.  Just have to wait to see the specialist on Wednesday.

Livermore, CA




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7 September 2019 - 10:58 am
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Hi Julia and Ginger, welcome.

I’m sorry you are dealing with cancer, but based on your last post the news is better than OSA.  No cancer is good of course but dealing with a STS that doesn’t tend to spread is good news in a bad situation.

My Pug Maggie had a mast cell tumor in her knee which lead to her amputation.  She had no signs of pain either- I only found the tumor when we were playing one day and I grabbed her back legs.  I beat myself up about not finding it sooner- she had a MCT removed from her side about 6 months before her amputation but I didn’t realize at the time that she would be prone to get more tumors. It was hard to let that go but I needed to focus on getting Mag through surgery and recovery.  There was no way to know if finding the tumor earlier would have led to a different outcome- but probably not.  By the time the tumor could be felt it had most likely been growing in the tissues around her knee and there would have been no way to remove it.

Get all your questions ready for your consult visit so you have all the information you need to make the best decision for Ginger.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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7 September 2019 - 11:41 am
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Clearly age is just a number to Ginger! Her demeanor  indicates  she could run the Boston Marathon!

You’ve  certainly  been on an emotional  roller coaster recently.   And yes, biopsies  are generally quite rough and pups.  As Jerry said, she needs to be on pain meds!

Should you need to go the amputation, ee ste here to support you during recovery  and answer any questions.  We ‘ll just wait to hear.back from you after your appointment.   I get quite zoned out on import appointments.   If you have a tavlet ot one pf those fancy smarr phones, take it with uou TJ record the appointment.  No matter how well I think I’m listening  or how good I think my notes are, I get home and can’t remember  a thing they told me.

Get your research done, your questions   answered ….and eat some chocolate!  You’ll feel better!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 September 2019 - 12:17 pm
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Oh wow I hope that she doesn’t need the amputation! That is encouraging news! Hang in there and let us know how things are going.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 September 2019 - 9:17 pm
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We saw the surgeon today.
She took a chest x-ray and more blood tests to help determine if Ginger has any other health issues that might influence our decision or if the cancer has spread.  (We had an abdominal and spinal x-ray already but not chest – on issues on either of those that would suggest other issues that would influence our decision.). Scheduled an ultrasound of her abdomen on Monday to also look for cancer there before making a decision.  

The tumor cannot be removed without amputation – it has effectively invaded the entire leg muscle, blood vessels, etc.  There wouldn’t be a leg left if they tried to remove the tumor without amputation.

Options include:  
  • do nothing (at least until Ginger appears to be in pain – the tumor must be pressing on nerves or will start to at some point even though she still has no evidence of pain at this time)
  • palliative radiation to slow the growth (and ultimately help to reduce the pain by slightly reducing the size to delay and reduce the pressure on the nerves)
  • amputation – the doctor would want to schedule that for next week if we decide to do it since this appears to be a rapidly growing tumor (the regular vet didn’t notice it in May during her yearly exam, but it was 10 cm as of 10 days ago when it was discovered)
Chemotherapy isn’t an option (unless we find microscopic spread somewhere else – it won’t do anything for this tumor).
So, we’ll wait for the results of today’s tests (hopefully tomorrow) and the ultrasound results next week to make a decision.
Ginger is at least back to her old self.  She doesn’t seem to have (much) pain from the biopsy anymore.  She doesn’t want to lay on that side, but she rolls around onto it repeatedly when she’s rolling around in the grass, and doesn’t wince or show any other response if I touch it.  We walked a mile last night and again this morning – our usual summer time route.   She’s eating well.  She’s our wonderful, best girl.
The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2019 - 10:05 pm
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That’s a lot of information to absorb, I’m sure you’re feeling exhausted from all of it. So sorry to hear that the tumor isn’t removable, that’s always tough to find out. But it sounds like you’re making all the right moves. Everyone wants what’s best for Ginger, and you’re accumulating great information to help you make a decision that all of you can live with and feel better about. You never feel great about it, but however you proceed you’ll know you did your best by getting all the facts first.

For now, focus on that best girl of yours. She is still Ginger, resilient, beautiful and oh so strong! Give her a smooch from us and we’ll keep our fingers crossed the next few days are easy on all of you. Keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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12 September 2019 - 10:08 am
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Good news so far.  Blood tests and chest x-ray all good.  No other significant health issues identified and no evidence of cancer in her chest/lungs.

Now Ginger gets four days of uninterrupted play until her next big step with Monday’s ultrasound.

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17 September 2019 - 11:52 am
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The ultrasound was done yesterday – everything looked healthy except there is a 2×2 cm mass in the center of her spleen.  The doctor said it is unlikely that this is a spreading of fibrosarcoma – they don’t tend to spread to the spleen.  So, it’s probably unrelated.  It’s one indication that she may have other health issues that could impact her long term prognosis, but this is the only significant issue like that.  Other than some mild arthritis and bone fusion that doesn’t seem to effect her, and signs of aging in her lung, she’s a healthy girl.  The spleen can be removed, so it’s not a significant factor in the decision on how to move forward with the tumor on her leg.  They could remove the spleen in the same surgery in which they do the amputation, but that would be a lot for her to recover from at once, so the doctor doesn’t recommend it.  She has no symptoms of typical issues with the spleen (vomiting, loss of appetite) so it doesn’t seem to be bothering her. We’ll repeat the ultrasound of the spleen in two weeks to see if the mass has changed.  

We’ve decided to go forward with the amputation on Thursday.

They want to do this urgently because we are assuming this mass is growing fast given that her regular vet didn’t notice it in May and we didn’t notice it between now and then.  But, I guess that doesn’t matter anyway – no point in putting it off if the leg has to be removed anyway.  Might as well just get it over with, but it’s hard to put her through this now when it doesn’t seem to bother her.  She’s running and jumping like the normal happy girl we know.  The doctor is concerned that if it grows much larger, she won’t have sufficient tissue to get a good amputation.  She’s going to remove everything from the hip bone down.

So, we’re on our way.  Surgery Thursday.  Should be able to come home Friday afternoon, but she can stay in the hospital longer if necessary.  They will send the entire leg to the lab for analysis so we’ll get more information next week.  They will give her nerve blockers, pain medication, and have her tranquilized.  So, I hope she won’t be too uncomfortable.

We’ve never left her anyway since we’ve had her, but they said she will be disoriented after the surgery so it’s best if we don’t even try to visit her that night which will be hard for us but OK If that’s best for her.

We have a few stairs in the house (split-level so one or two stairs between rooms) and three regular-size stairs to get onto the porch from the driveway.  So, I’m going shopping for a ramp in case she needs that for a while and some absorbent training pads in case she can’t make it outside.  Most of our floors are carpeted, but I’m putting rugs with grips underneath in the few areas that are slippy.  The hospital will give us a sling to take her home to help her get around until she heals and figures out how to walk on three legs.  Getting her in the car when we take her home won’t be easy, but we can carry her if necessary.

They will send us home with all of the necessary medication.  I forgot to ask about supplies to take care of the wound site, but we’ll figure that out.  We’re fortunate that someone will be able to stay home with her 24×7 as long as she needs it.  She’s rarely alone now, but we’ll make sure someone is always there with her.

Please think good thoughts.  I’ll never forgive myself for not catching it sooner, but we’re at least trying to do the best we can for her going forward.

Onward for Ginger – a few tough weeks ahead and maybe more after that to deal with the spleen.  But, she can have a good life once we get past these few hurdles.  She’s a strong happy girl.  We’re doing everything we can to keep her that way.

Julia and Nick

Julia



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17 September 2019 - 2:40 pm
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My cat Mona had a fibrosarcoma that grew from a slightly bald spot on a Saturday to a marble-size on Monday to a golfball on Wednesday and she had the amputation on Friday. The vet assumed it was a fibrosarcoma caused by a vaccine injection and wanted to remove the leg immediately because the tumour was so aggressive. So, you can forgive yourself! You’re taking immediate action and the only thing different is that my vet chose not to biopsy the lump.

Now that you are forgiven smiley4 you can put your energy on preparing for the amputation. Make sure you get some sleep and treat yourself well. It is emotionally exhausting.

Hugs for you all and scratches for Ginger.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 September 2019 - 9:06 pm
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I agree, don’t beat yourself up. Many of us had the same thing happen to our pets, where a tumor just went crazy. You guys have a terrific vet team, the care sounds top-notch and Ginger is in great hands with so many humans looking out for her. One step at a time, this will be behind you soon.

We do agree that staying away that first night is for the best. It’s hard, but you’ll want to see her when she’s alert, and she, you.

Sounds like you’ve got the home situation handled like a pro. She should do just fine.

Yep, lots of big happy healing thoughts are coming your way for the big surgery. Holler with any questions and let us know how things are going. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 September 2019 - 3:27 pm
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Ginger’s surgery is over, and she is awake.  The doctor said it all went very well.  She got a nerve blocker and will be on a continuous pain drip overnight.  As soon as she will eat for them they will also give her a pain reliever orally.

Livermore, CA




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19 September 2019 - 7:45 pm
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Great news!  It’s always such a relief to get through the surgery.

Keep us posted on how she is doing and when you get her home.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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19 September 2019 - 9:40 pm
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YAAAAY FOR GINGER!!😁😁   It sounds like she’s  in great hands and on a good pain plan!

Now that  she’s  high as a kite and seeing pink elephants,  you get some rest, okay?

Keep us posted  and we’ll be here to help celebrate  her homecoming and help support you during recovery.

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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