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Update on Dakota
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Scottsburg, IN
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5 February 2010
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19 July 2010 - 10:29 am
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I wish this were a positive update, but it's not.  By looking at an xray the vet suspects osteosarcoma.  She's going on vacation the rest of the week and I want to move as fast as possible, so she recommended another vet for me to move forward with.  I'm taking Dakota to the new office tomorrow morning to take xrays of the lungs to see if there are visible mets. 

I've been trying to prepare myself for this ever since I found the stupid knots, but I'm still at a loss.  I was hoping it was maybe MCT or something where he would have a chance.  I feel really stupid right now because, even though I JUST WENT THROUGH THIS in March with Roxy I feel lost. 

I have some questions that I didn't run into with Roxy, if you all can help me.  First, Dakota is an 85lb boy that has a very low enery level.  He has never been a really active dog in the 2 years I've had him.  Have any of you had low energy level amputees?  If so, how have they taken to the extra exertion it takes to get around?  Roxy is a very high energy dog, so it just seems like they would be completely different.  Second, my vet mentioned a limb saving surgery where they take out the affected bone and replace it, then plate it.  Have any of you heard of this?  Know any ups or downs?  Dakota isn't showing signs of pain yet, but I know if it's osteosarcoma he will.  Have any of you had your pooch diagnosed before the pain started showing?  Also, the vet said there is a chance (small) that it's a fungal infection or something.  But she says if a radiologist thinks its cancer by looking at the xrays she doesn't recommend doing a biopsy first.  Do you all agree?  It seems to me that doing a biopsy is worth it if there's any chance it could be something else.  I'd feel like a complete ass if I took his leg for a fungal infection.

I'll give you more info as I get it. 

 

Leslie

Roxy, Dakota and Kali's Mom

On The Road


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19 July 2010 - 11:01 am
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lesliec said:

... the vet suspects osteosarcoma.  ... mentioned a limb saving surgery where they take out the affected bone ...


 

We're sorry to hear about Dakota's diagnosis. Have you tried searching the forums for limb sparing?

Limb sparing is usually done in conjunction with radiation therapy which Jerry discusses in his post about radiation treatment at Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center.

We have heard of many dogs doing well with this treatment option, but recently Buddy the Rottweiler did not do so well after his limb sparing procedure. sad

For another amputation alternative watch our video interview with Dr. Mona Rosenberg discussing bisphosphonates. As far as additional tests go, if an oncologist is certain about osteosarcoma, why put Dakota through further painful expensive tests? How "certain" do you need to be? Especially considering that even extensive testing can be wrong.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Calgary, AB
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30 January 2010
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19 July 2010 - 11:14 am
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Oh that is such a devastating blow. Two dogs with cancer is terribly difficult I'm sure. I'm so sorry.

Tai already had the limp from the OS so I commend you on finding it before it became sore but you're right, it's only a matter of time. If the radiologist is confident it's OS I would tend to just amputate without the delay of a biopsy. I'm inclined to agree with your Vet, the radiologists are pretty experienced with identifying this type of thing. Unfortunately they've seen it far too often. If you have doubts then a biopsy would put your mind at ease I suppose. And you did catch it earlier than most of us so you have a bit of extra time in your favour. I have no experience with limb sparing surgery but I think some on here have contemplated it so I'm leave that discussion to them.

As for the "low energy" part, Tai is certainly not a high energy dog. To be honest I would say that at times some things do seem to be just too much effort for her to bother with but I'm not sure how much that has to do with being a tripawd. When she does want to move she goes almost as fast as before. I think she sleeps a bit more than she used to however she's also almost 9 which is getting up there for any Lab. Like always, dogs adapt and, as you know from Roxy, they accept their 3 leggedness and move on with life.

Once again I'm sorry that you have to deal with this all over again. I can only offer you support and pawsitive thoughts.

Laura and Tai (the lazy dog)

Tai – 9 yr old lab. Diagnosed Osteosarcoma Dec 18/09. Front right leg amputated Dec 21/09. Started chemo Jan 7/10. Lung mets discovered Sept 16/10. Valiant to the end on Oct 26/10 when cancer reappeared in a leg and we made the decision to set her free. Forever in my heart where not even cancer can take her from me.

Los Angeles
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2 November 2009
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19 July 2010 - 3:11 pm
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Leslie,

I'm so sorry to hear this news.  I can only imagine what you must be going through right now.  To answer some of your questions, Mackenzie was about 80lbs when she had her surgery and I would have considered her to be on the lower energy side from other dogs (I was worried about this too.)   But she's done great - no problems at all.  In fact, she seems to have more energy than ever now.  The surgeons just need to examine Dakota to make sure he's physically ok for amputation - energy level I don't think really factors into this when they're determining amputation. So I don't think you have to worry about that.  

Regarding limb sparing surgery - I have to tell you honestly that my vets told me that it's really not a good option (at least for Mackenzie).  The success rate is very low.  What ends up happening is that the leg eventually weakens and fractures anyway.  So they flat out told me that they would not recommend this (and I'm just trying to let you know what I was told when I was going through this). We did palliative radiation before Mackenzie's amputation, not accepting amputation yet. And that ended up costing a lot of unnecessary money and heartache because her leg ended up fracturing and she didn't respond well to the radiation as a result.   I know there are some statistics that show a better response rate to radiation but Mackenzie unfortunately was in % that didn't do well (I'm trying to remember now what that % was.  I do know that the limb sparing success rate was much lower than doing palliative radiation from what I was told.) After what I've gone through, amputation ended up being the best option of all.

Regarding the biopsy, what happened first was my vet did a needle biopsy which isn't as invasive but it came back inconclusive (she had this report reviewed by 3 different specialist.)  My surgeon said that that's pretty typical that a needle biopsy comes back inconclusive (I think he said 50% of the time!) so they strongly recommended that we do the other biopsy (the more invasive one) which would definitely confirm - plus they want to confirm what type of cancer it is and to make sure that it is cancer even though they pretty much knew it was.  I was really torn about doing this procedure because she already had the needle biopsy but looking back I'm glad we did so we knew what we were dealing with.  But that's your call - whatever you feel is best for you and Dakota should be the driver here.  

Again, I'm so so sorry that you may be faced with this again.  It just doesn't seem fair. crying We will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.  Good luck with everything.

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!

Edmonton, Alberta
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11 January 2010
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19 July 2010 - 4:23 pm
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Leslie - this is dreadful news. You've already experienced this and not very long ago either. I'm so sorry.

Catie's also on the lower end of the activity scale. She's never been one for sustained activity (she's a snuffler and a stroller who could, and still does, move fast if she wants to. The key word there is "want") and wasn't a factor at all in determining her viability for amputation. Her inclination for resting may actually have helped her in her recovery. 

Catie had two bone biopsies, because the results from the first came back negative. We were actually told before the first biopsy that the cancer cells did not always show up. We opted for a second one because we wanted to be "sure." (always that glimmer of hope). The second (the surgeon retrieved samples from deeper layers) came back positive. In the end, the surgeon's initial reading of the xrays was correct. 

I can't imagine the weight of this news on you. It's just wrong and, again, I'm sooo sorry. 

 

 

Catie -

Birthday – November 4 2003

Amputation – January 13 2010

Crossed the Bridge – June 2 2011

 Catie Caitlin 

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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19 July 2010 - 5:08 pm
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I too, am so sorry for the Dx.  I cannot imagine doing this twice so soon.  Trouble lis a pretty low energy dog, and she does just fine. Her age and arthritis are causing her to slow down these days, but when she's out, she'll do a short run (really only a few feet) and then lay down to rest for a bit enjoying the sunshine then will complete a 1/2 tour of the yard.  Until the last couple of months, she did a full yard tour once a day. I don't think you need to worry about Dakota being on the low energy side.

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.

Scottsburg, IN
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5 February 2010
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19 July 2010 - 5:16 pm
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Thanks everyone for your advice.  I know I was just in this situation not long ago, but I still feel lost.  Before I heard the words come out of the vets mouth I thought having gone through this it might be a little easier this time, but I was wrong.  I keep trying to tell myself to follow the advice I've given to some other people.  It works one minute and doesn't work the next.  I've talked it over with my husband.  If Dakota is a good candidate for amputation I think that's what we're going to do.  My husband wasn't raised to value animals much.  Heck, when we first moved in together he told me we would never have an inside dog.  I've made him eat those words as we now have three (plus two cats!)  He loves our dogs, but he still wouldn't choose to spend so much money trying to save them.  Thank goodness my husband loves me so much.  He told me he was behind me on this because he wanted me to be happy. 

Thank you all for your input about energy level, it has made me feel a little better.  And I really appreciate the info about limb saving procedures.  I think I've ruled that out almost completely.  Even though I know the importance of this, I still need encouragement.  So I so greatly appreciate your positive words.  I honestly don't think I would make it through this without the support of this community. 

His appointment is at 9am, eastern time, tomorrow.  I'll post an update as soon as I can.

Thanks again!

Leslie

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14 April 2010
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20 July 2010 - 7:14 am
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Let me get our 3 paws worth in. I wouldn't do the biopsy if they feel confident your dealing with a cancer. We did the biopsy and it came back negative, we did the surgery in April,  when we did the first x-ray in the middle of march Gus had a clear chest, the vet thought we had gotten the cancer early, but 8 weeks ago we found lung mets, so I say the quicker the better. Gus and Dan 

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

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20 July 2010 - 7:39 am
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Limb sparing was a procedure offered to us for Charlie. They had done a few of them at the U of M, but if I preferred, they would set it up in Colorado for me (there was also an intense radiation to the tumor site, however I forget the exact name of it, done at Colorado and Florida, I believe).

The reason I chose amputation was for a few reasons:

1. pain management (the other option, heavy medication) already was becoming difficult.

2. Limb sparing had its own set of issues: infection, rejection, longer recuperation time, the gait changes due to the fusion (they don't bend it, but rather swing the leg) and of course, breakage, thus making amputation the next step.

3. Cost. It was $6,000 for limb sparing and $2,000 for amputation (ours turned out to be just over $2,300). Add to that the estimated cost of chemo at $3,000, I just didn't see how that extra $4,000 was worth it.

 

As far as getting the confirmed diagnosis, they had many expensive and evasive procedures offered to me to confirm it. However, his pain was so bad by that point and the % of it being something else was so small, I elected to have the amputation prior to the confirmation. A week after the amputation it was confirmed osteosarcoma.

 

And regarding the activity level, due to his age (11) and sheer laziness (truly our dog) the only time he gets a high energy level is when he suspects a car ride. Then it is a mad dash to the door, knocking over as much as is doggy possible. Beyond that, everything is slo-mo with Charlie.

So sorry to hear about the news, though. sad

 

"I don't know where I am."

Scottsburg, IN
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5 February 2010
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20 July 2010 - 10:45 am
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Took Dakota to the other vets' office this morning.  It's a clinic with 6 vets and better technology.  Dr. Allen took a look at the original xray and examined Dakota.  He said his opinion is that it's an old fracture (we adopted Dakota when he was 4) and I just felt the bumps.  They have digital xray machines so he took another of his legs and one of his chest.  Chest is clear, which I know really doesn't mean that much.  But he showed me several things about the leg that makes him think it's an old fracture.  He said the bone looks healthy.  It doesn't have a "eaten" look to it.  It is misshapen, it's bent inward slightly, but Dakota's leg has always looked a little strange to me.  I just never paid attention because cancer was never a concern before this year.  And the "knots" the vet thinks are calcium deposits from healing.  Also, the concerning leg is about 1 inch shorter than the other front leg, which none of us have ever noticed until he put the xrays up side by side to compare.  A second vet stopped by as he was looking at the bone and said "that's healing good".  So that guy thought it was a fracture too.  I still asked them to have a radiologist look at it.  As much as I want to believe this second vets opinion, one opinion against another doesn't have that much value to it.  Besides, I'm terrified of getting my hopes up just to be knocked back down in a few days.  So, in the mean time I'm going to continue to monitor Dakota, watch for signs of soreness, see if it is sensitive when I push on it, see if it changes, that kind of thing.  I updated our usual vet this morning.  If the radiologist says they think it's an old fracture, I'll probably still take him back in a few weeks for a follow up xray to see if anything looks different on that level.  I'm crazy paranoid.  laughing 

Thanks again everyone for your kind words and support.  It really is priceless.

 

Leslie

RuthieGirl
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20 July 2010 - 11:28 am
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I think we are all paranoid now.  I know I will always have that thought in the back of my head when I notice any dog limping.  We can't help it.  God help my soon to arrive puppy, she will probably be at the vet at the slightest sign of a limp.

Good luck!

Spirit Ruthie's Mom,

Pat

On The Road


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20 July 2010 - 12:50 pm
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Leslie, it really does sound like you have the best care pawsible for Dakota, his medical team sounds great. We can't blame you for being paranoid, but try not to look at it as that; you're being proactive. We are always surprised at how many pawrents let their dog's illnesses go undiagnosed to the point where it's a horrible situation.

So pat yourself on the back for being a great dog Mom and doing all you can do. Your plan sounds fine. Keep us posted oK? And feel free to share your paran....oops, I mean, proactive thoughts with us anytime.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Los Angeles
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2 November 2009
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20 July 2010 - 7:39 pm
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What welcoming news this must be! I know you don't want to get your hopes up right now but if this is the case, this is the best prognosis of all. I truly hope and pray for you and Dakota that this is what it is and nothing more.   Best of luck and here's keeping our paws crossed for Dakota laugh (and it's ok to be crazy paranoid too! )

Kami

P.S. Pat, are you getting another puppy???laugh

 

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!

Edmonton, Alberta
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11 January 2010
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20 July 2010 - 7:56 pm
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It's true. Cancer makes us all hyper-sensitive and hyper-watchful. Catie, Riley and I have our fingers and paws crossed for Dakota too.

Catie -

Birthday – November 4 2003

Amputation – January 13 2010

Crossed the Bridge – June 2 2011

 Catie Caitlin 

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