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Molly: new tripawdChesapeake Bay Retriever w/ synovial sarcoma
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Golden, CO
Forum Posts: 30
Member Since:
16 August 2008
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16 August 2008 - 5:56 pm
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First of all, thank you so much for this wonderful site.
Sorry if this is long, but this is very recent and I have a lot to write.

Our dog, Molly, had her right front leg amputated yesterday because of synovial sarcoma. She is an 11-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

This has all happened very quickly and we are still dealing with the shock of it all.
We first noticed something was wrong with Molly when she developed a limp during a 4th of July backpacking trip. At first we thought it might just be arthritis or sore muscles due to her age. When it didn’t go away towards the end of July, we took her to the vet. They took an x-ray and did a needle biopsy which were both normal. The vet felt Molly may have injured some soft tissue in the joint and sent her home with some anti-inflammatory medicines. However, the vet said that if there was no improvement in a week, we should bring her back. The medication did not help and the limp persisted so we took Molly back to the vet on August 7th. Concerned that it might be something more serious, they did a wedge biopsy of the joint. We just got the results back last Monday, August 11th, and found out that Molly had synovial sarcoma.

We were referred up to the Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and had an appointment there on Thursday, August 14th. They took some more x-rays and confirmed the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma. They also did a stomach ultrasound, chest x-ray and lymph node biopsy, which came back clear. We were told that, because the cancer was so intertwined into the leg joint and could not be easily removed or radiated, amputation was the best treatment. Left untreated, the cancer would continue to grow and possibly get into other parts of Molly’s body. One thing that they could not tell us at that point was the grade of the cancer, or if it was the type that spread aggressively. For some reason, this info was not recorded in the original biopsy done at our vet. The oncology vet said he could request that information, but that it would take a week to come back. Another choice he gave us was to go ahead with the amputation regardless (since it was the best option whether it was grade 1, 2 or 3) and then do a complete analysis on the leg tissue afterwards. We were also told that though it would not hurt to wait another week to have the surgery, they had an appointment the next day, Friday, August 15 should we wish to have the leg amputated right away.

My husband and I were in complete shock. We had no idea going into the appointment on Thursday that Molly might be a three-legged canine the next day. We had the tough decision of whether to take the surgery appointment for the 15th (yesterday) or wait for next week.

After some deliberation and a lot of tears, we decided to go for the quickest option. We took Molly home that night and tried to make the best of her last evening on four legs. I wanted to take her for a hike or swim or do one of the outdoor activities she loved so much, but she was too tired from all the tests that day. We settled for lots of hugs in the living room. The choice to amputate didn’t feel that difficult, as it seemed pretty clear that it was the best choice for recovery from the cancer. However, I struggled with guilt over the quickness of our decision. To go in one day and decide to amputate the next? Shouldn’t it have taken longer for us to make such an important decision about our best friend? However, since we knew amputation was the best option, why not get the cancerous limb off as soon as possible? I found this website and searched for affirmation on our decision and began to feel better about our choice.

Yesterday morning, we got Molly up to Fort Collins early. Her surgery was postponed due to another emergency surgery coming in, but otherwise, went extremely well. The folks at the Animal Cancer Center with CSU are the most caring and knowledgeable group of people in veterinary medicine that my husband and I have ever met. The oncologist and surgeon we worked with were outstanding and explained every step of the procedure with patience and care. They even had a senior vet student who was absolutely amazing. She traveled with our dog through each of the procedures (xray, anesthesiology, surgery etc.) and cared for her during her whole time at the hospital. The student even came in from home last night at 8:30 p.m. so we could all visit with Molly post-surgery. The student was back at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. this morning to get Molly ready for us to pick up. They provided unbelievable service and care. They even had a ARGUS counselor at the hospital to help us deal with the tough decisions and the sadness we were feeling. If you have a pet with cancer and live anywhere near Fort Collins, CO, take your pet to this facility!

We picked up Molly this morning. We could not believe how well she was doing. She hopped right down the hall alongside the hospital staff to see us and didn’t stumble once. Now that she is home, she is very tired and cries a bit when her pain meds wear off. When we do take her outside, she has to rest every 20 feet or so after hopping. Still, considering that she is not even 24 hours out of surgery, this is completely amazing.

Now we have the tough time of waiting for the tissue samples to get analyzed on her amputated leg. The findings will determine our next steps. The grade of Molly’s cancer will be known by Tuesday, with one other test that determines another aspect of cancer aggressiveness coming in on Thursday or Friday.

Thanks again for this site and all the posts!

Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008.  We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010.  As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.

Michigan
Forum Posts: 289
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16 August 2008 - 6:33 pm
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Hi Mollydog and Molly,

Your story so very much describes the feelings we all go through with this decision.  Please feel good with your decision.  You are giving Molly relief from the pain she was feeling which was probably worse than she let on.  You are also giving her a chance at a longer life.

Molly will have some good and bad days in the coming weeks but she will come through this like a champ……. and so will you.

Hugs

Connie & Radar

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 August 2008 - 2:57 pm
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Mollydog, thank you for joining us here at Tripawds, we are so glad we could be of some help, and whatever you or your pawrents need, know that we are here for you. Your story is so good to know, as so many others can benefit from you and your pawrents’ experience.

You were a backpacking dog too? So was I, for a long time! OMG I LOVED wearing a pack! Now we go on shorter hikes and I still love it.

And guess what? I’m in Colorado till the end of summer! In a town called Lake City, south of Gunnison. We need to meet up! There are so many lakes and places to play here, it’s incredible.

K, Mamma is late for work but she just wants to say "Thanks" and post some photos when you can OK? 

Hang in there girl, things will look up, I promise.

xoxoxo

Jerry 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 17
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17 August 2008 - 7:40 pm
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Hi Mollydog and family,

You made the right decision. Dont even think that you didnt. Mate had a very similar tumor in the exact same place. The tumor was intermediate for metetasticising(sp?), and x-rays looked clear. Whatever the outcome of your Molly’s biopsy, just get her healed up nicely, and then look at some resources and guidance for fighting cancer , like diet, supplements, etc. (whether she has it or not).

  And most importantly, realise that every day you have from now on with Molly is a gift! Make her feel that way, and she will make you feel the same…

Matey girl, age 14, tripawd since 8-6-08. 

Matey Girl

Golden, CO
Forum Posts: 30
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16 August 2008
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18 August 2008 - 1:39 pm
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone. Two days post-surgery and Molly is doing great. The biggest issue seems to be fluid build up. The vet told us this would happen, but it is hard to gauge what is normal. The area under her removed leg is puffy and udder-like.

She is moving around well on her own, though we are helping her with a towel-sling most of the time. She seems to have the toughest time with standing to pee or poop and loses her balance if we aren’t there to help hold her up. Yesterday she suddenly decided to get off her mat to visit the kitchen. Before we had a chance rush over with the towel sling to help her, she tipped over and landed right on her injured side with a big thud. It really freaked me out, but appeared to do no damage. Since then, her balance has improved a lot.

I am in awe that Molly has shown little pain through any of this. No major whimpering or crying (except for one time when we accidentally put pressure on the incision site). Her first night home from the surgery she cried a bit at bedtime. At first we thought she was in pain, but soon realized she was crying because she wanted to get up on the couch, her normal sleeping place, but couldn’t. Her crying stopped as soon as we helped her on the couch (and safeguarded it so she couldn’t roll or jump off and get injured).

Jerry, I was just in Lake City the first week of August. I was taking a watercolor painting class with the Colorado Trail Foundation up at their education center near Cinnamon Pass. Little did I know the shocking news the next week would bring. At that point I only thought Moll had perhaps hurt a muscle. Crazy how fast things can change. However, now that the surgery is done, we feel good about our decision and Moll is healing up like a champ.

We will send some pictures soon!

Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008.  We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010.  As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.

Golden, CO
Forum Posts: 30
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18 August 2008 - 3:44 pm
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Molly on Mt. Bierstadt, Colorado, 2006

Molly on Mt. Bierstadt 2006Image Enlarger

 


Molly backpacking in the Wind River Range, Wyoming, 2007

Molly backpacking in Wyoming 2007Image Enlarger

 


Molly 24 hours after surgery, August 16, 2008

Molly 24 hours after surgeryImage Enlarger

 


Molly 24 hours after surgery, August 16, 2008

Molly 24 hours after surgeryImage Enlarger

Molly was diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcoma (grade 3 with hystiocytic markers) and had her front leg amputated on August 15th 2008.  We had a wonderful two years with her until she passed at age 13.5 on August 29th 2010.  As far as we could tell, her cancer never returned.

Forum Posts: 41
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18 August 2008 - 4:20 pm
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You did exactly the right thing – no point delaying the op. the sooner, the better.  Best wishes to Molly for a speedy recovery – we’ve all been there. It’s tough the first couple of weeks.  It sounds like Molly is doing really well –  I am now out the other side and am enjoying life on 3 legs. I take things a little slower now (well not much ‘slower’ – just ‘shorter’ bursts) but still chase after my ball and enjoy walks in the forest.

I won’t go into major details – you can see my story under "Thanks from Max" if you want to.  But just a little word – we were simply amazed when Max first came home – he was so energetic and coping so well, but he did then start to get a little worse – very lethargic and hardly moving.  This was ok though, perfectly normal and after he had his staples out (2 weeks post op) he made a rapid recovery.  We were very worried because he had started off so well.  I’m not trying to scare you  – but just to say that Molly sounds like she’s doing extremely well and I hope that this continues – but if she does seem to go backwards in her recovery for a wee while, don’t fear the worst – this seems to be usual.

Molly is a beautiful girl – such kind eyes. All the best Molly we wish you well.

Love Max

xxx

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 August 2008 - 10:28 pm
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Molly is simply beautiful. And a lucky dog to have enjoyed such great hiking. My last hike was twelve miles, partly on the PCT. Just days after returning I presented the limp that led to my surgery. I still love to swim though!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 August 2008 - 10:37 pm
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Molly

Molly what a beautiful determined girl you are. We are so happy you are doing well. Just take it slow don’t overexert yourself. Just watch Molly’s swelling and watch for any changes.

Heidi and Titan

Michigan
Forum Posts: 289
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18 August 2008 - 11:38 pm
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Molly is a lovely girl.  You and her are lucky to have each other.

Take one day at a time, there may be ups and downs but before you know it you won’t see or think about what she’s missing, you will see the girl you know an love.

Connie & Radar

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19 August 2008 - 1:13 pm
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Hi Molly, I’m Zeus – 10 year old golden retriever, 4 1/2 months post amputation – right front leg. Mommy loves your story – we have such brave pawrents don’t we to make such an incredibly tough (but right) decision for us. I am still the alpha dog when I play with my pack of friends every evening – you can’t stop me! I love to chase the tennis ball still, but my walks are shorter in length because hopping does make you tired more quickly.

Make sure you rest the next few weeks…take it really easy so you can build your strength back up – remember that you just had MAJOR surgery. Tell your mom not to worry too much about the falls – they will happen and they still occasionally happen to me when I’m climbing the stairs.

Keep us posted and welcome to our tripawd family.

Lots of love,

Zeus and Mom

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

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19 August 2008 - 1:13 pm
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P.S. – you look beautiful baby!

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

Manchester, UK
Forum Posts: 210
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19 August 2008 - 3:11 pm
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Hi Molly

Four legs or three legs – you’re looking fabulous Kiss

Bev

x

Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.

***Darcy would love to be your friend on Facebook - just search for Darcy Deerhound***

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19 August 2008 - 11:02 pm
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Hi Molly,

You are lucky to live near such nice hiking trails!

I am a Golden/Shephard mix about the same size and age as you. After being a bit mopey the first couple of weeks after surgery, I am now "hoppy" as ever. Wishing the same for you…

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22 August 2008 - 10:33 pm
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Molly’s story is amazing.  Thank you so much for sharing all the details and CSU (in Fort Collins, CO) is regarded as one of the very best places in the world to take a pet with serious illness.  I realize that Molly has a ways to go in healing and learning balance, but soon she’ll be just like Jerry dawg!  You had some tough decisions to make and you came through with flying colors.  It is very difficult to have so little time to make such a life-changing decision (such as leg amputation) and I’m glad you didn’t wait.  Thanks for sharing all the beautiful pictures of your dog.  Molly is a "Star" in my book.  Good luck with her recovery.

Love Vicki, Blazer & Kimber

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