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9 1/2 year old Saint Bernard newly diagnosed
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Member Since:
15 June 2023
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17 June 2023 - 12:07 am
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Hello.  My 9 1/2 year old Saint Bernard was just diagnosed with bone cancer yesterday.  Otherwise, she’s the picture of health.  I’ve taken her to physical therapy once per week for the past 18 months just to keep her in good shape.  She eats homemade food and better than i do.  She weighs 130 lbs though and is old for a Saint.  

We have two appointments with oncologists on Monday.  I feel overwhelmed, depressed, but mostly afraid of the decisions that are going to need to be made soon.  This came out of the blue, and i think that i might still be in physical shock from the diagnosis.  

here are some questions that are causing me to lose sleep:

Are there any successful stories of older Saints doing okay with amputation?  

Are prosthetics a real option?  

Does anyone have experience with the ELIAS Animal Health's ELIAS Cancer Immunotherapy?  

Any advice, or encouragement, would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you all.  

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 June 2023 - 11:07 am
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Hi Michael,

First, breathe. You are an incredible pet parent and your dog is so lucky to have you!

Of course you feel the way you do, this is a gut punch! Many of us here totally understand what this situation is like, myself included. We are here to help as best we can. I'll try to answer your questions:

Are there any successful stories of older Saints doing okay with amputation?  

Yepperz! MANY! One of my all time favorite blogs is Patchy the Saint and Thurston's blog.

Are prosthetics a real option? 

That link has our articles about prosthetic legs for dogs. But in general, it depends on where the cancer tumor is located, and your dog's prognosis plays a role too. The prosthetic needs as much limb as possible for an attachment point and with osteosarcoma that rarely happens. Most people opt out of prosthetic legs when it comes to osteosarcoma. There are other options to ensure an active life, like a dog stroller or wheelchairs. Your PT can guide you (great job already having an established relationship with one!).

Does anyone have experience with the ELIAS Animal Health's ELIAS Cancer Immunotherapy?  

Yep. Search the Forums here and see our Tripawds News Immunotherapy Topics.

Be sure to check out Jerry's Required Reading List and our e-books library for more help, and stay tuned for feedback from others.

You can do this! Just by being here you are taking the right steps to make educated decisions and give your girl a great chance at beating the odds. What's her name?

Member Since:
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17 June 2023 - 2:51 pm
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Thanks SO MUCH for your response Jerry.  And on the duplicate.  

Her name is Ophelia.  

i will definitely read through the links that you provided.  

Member Since:
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17 June 2023 - 6:02 pm
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Hi Michael,

  Looks like Jerry gave you some great information. I just wanted to say I’m in your shoes right now, just a little bit ahead of you. Here’s my post if you want to look through it. You can see all the great updates we have had. https://tripawd.....ion-check/

We took my 11 year old pittie in for a limp thinking it was something simple and out of nowhere we were hit with bone cancer and the need for amputation. Of course, the doctor said we could wait it out on the amputation or do nothing, but we run the risk of his leg getting weaker and fracturing and plus there’s the pain it was causing him. I didn’t want to put him through that. My thoughts were to remove it now and hope we caught the cancer early and it will give us the best chance of getting it all before it has spread. 

I spent the first few days to a week questioning my choice. But then I found this community and I listened to their advice and it made all the difference. Just knowing I was heard and understood helped. We are now over 2 weeks post-op and I can now happily say that I am confident we did the right thing. He is so much happier and it seems like he’s not in pain anymore. He’s back to being himself again and getting around super well. I was surprised by how well he adapted. It’s crazy how resilient dogs are. 

Anyways, hang in there. Do what gives your baby the best quality of life. Most importantly, dogs feed off your energy so be strong for your baby. Oh, and we are currently doing the Torigen immunotherapy. If you do have to do an amputation and want to do the immunotherapy, you’ll need to make sure they all know because with Torigen, the leg had to be sent off right away and it couldn’t be set in a certain chemical that some surgeons use. We are here for you so please use this community for support. They really are the best! I was a wreck when I first found out. Now I’m making happy posts about my boy. 

Virginia







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17 June 2023 - 9:12 pm
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As you can see from the I informative  and supportive posts from Jerry and Justin, we understand  all of your emotions and fear and concerns!  We all were gutted when we first heard the diagnosis  and then "amputation" as the "treatmemt".

Like everyone here, we decided  we HAD to give our dogs a chance at a pain free quality  life.  No one was ready to say "goodbye " and our dogs were not either.

So glad Jerry gave uou some links specifically  to Saint Bernard's.  One of my favorites to follow was Thirston and his Mom Gloria.

Surgeons will tell you that size and age do not  matter....and we see  proof of that over and over here.  Large Great Danes up to and over 170 lbs. (See Jesse's blog) .  She was considered a "senior" and passed mostly as a result of being a senior after thriving on three for two years.

My Happy Hannah, considered "mature" Bull Mastiff at at 8 1/2 , was about 130 lbs and handled three like a Champ.  I was so scared avout pursuing amputation  that I even cancelled the first surgery appointment.   Then it became clear her pain was getting worse and I would jave to "let her go", or give her a chance.  And I am ao glad I gave her a chance for more loving and spoiling  and tummy rubs and butt scratches. 

Continue your research, co ntinue your questions and,  most importantly.. focus on what would your sweet Saint want?

You are not alone!  We are right here by your side, okay?

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!

Member Since:
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18 June 2023 - 10:53 am
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Hi Justin.  Thank you.  It is very comforting to hear from others who are going through this.  I’ve only known since Thursday morning and am just crushed.  I don’t think that I’ve ever been so sad and devastated about anything.  Some people would say that she’s “just a dog” but as so many of us know, they are family, and in many cases, our best friends. 

i am struggling with decisions that i don’t even know will have to be made.  What is best for her?  What does she want? How much pain is she in? Would i be doing this for me or for her?  

And all of those questions are compounded by me being in complete, emotional, shock.  

How do people move on with other parts of their lives?  I own a small law firm and haven’t worked in five days now.  I feel like every moment needs to be next to Ophelia.  

I will definitely do read your posts.  

thank you again.  The support, and people taking time to contribute to that support, means the world to me right now. 

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18 June 2023 - 11:03 am
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Thank you Sally. As i said to Justine above, this support means the world to me.  I am trying to be strong for Ophelia, but literally break down every few hours.  I just can’t imagine doing this to her, for her, but i also can’t imagine the world without her.  I am certain that I’m not ready to say goodbye, but would she prefer that?  As i am sure is true with many people here, she’s my best friend. 

At the same time, i know that I’ll have to let her go someday, regardless of what i do now.  The question that keeps repeating in my head is, is it better to choose to go through this with her to buy her more time, or is it better to let her go peacefully, while she is still the happy dog, who has never had a trauma in her life, now or the very near future? 

You said that i would know best what to do for her, and that has always been true with other dogs that I’ve had, but i really really don’t know right now.  I don’t know if it’s the shock that I’m experiencing, lack of experience with this, or that I’m choking under the pressure of it.  i don’t know what is best for her right now.  And it’s making me sick to my stomach.  

i know that many of my questions are rhetorical and that I’m just venting.  But hearing other experiences is comforting. 

thank you, and everyone, for being here.   

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18 June 2023 - 11:07 am
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One thing that i haven’t mentioned is that I share custody of Ophelia with my ex wife.  I have her with me a lot more of the time than she does, but Ophelia does usually go to her place 4-8 nights per month. I know that my ex loves her, but i don’t know that it’s good for Ophelia now to be away from home.  I also don’t want my ex to think that I’m being selfish.  I just want what is best for Ophelia.  I don’t care about anything else.  

does anyone have any experience with this?  Or advice or thoughts?  

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 June 2023 - 12:16 pm
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Michael, that is a pretty common situation (shared custody) but it doesn't get discussed here a lot for some reason. Here I go again but it would make a great new topic all to it's own in our Anything Goes Forum. That would help others to see your question more quickly, and chime in with their own experience.

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18 June 2023 - 1:11 pm
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Okay.  Thank you.  Yes, I’m just learning how to best navigate the forums.  So please just direct me when needed. 

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18 June 2023 - 1:38 pm
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Hey Michael,

I'm online now if you feel like venting. Like you said, it's hard to know if we're making the call for them or us, especially when it's time sensitive - I have heard (although can't be sure it's true in all cases) that amputation is not offered as an option if they don't think it's a good one. I ended up just asking the specialist what would they do if it is was their dog, and what they thought their quality of life would be vs the risks/struggles - they are much more pragmatic about things and can often give advice about her likelihood in struggling to recover or putting her through it for nought. I don't think they're that forthcoming with it unless prompted, but I figure they (especially specialists) have seen many cases before to give them a better reference point that my muddled mind. 

I don't regret making the call, but yes I am struggling more this time as we made the decision so quickly after the diagnosis - it's like I'm still wrapping my head around it while dealing with the practicalities of it having already been done. I was just keen to get the damn thing out of her, but I think don't proceed until you're sure, otherwise it'll make accepting your decision (whichever way you go) harder. This is our second time round and I have a very supportive husband, and it's still hard to cope some days (read: hours!).

Sorry to hear you have a joint custody thing as well to complicate things...

Sending you a virtual hug.

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18 June 2023 - 2:40 pm
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Thank you.  Every little bit helps. Of everything - information as well as support. 

i know that no one can give me a medical opinion or promise anything, but based on experience and the experience of others here, how long do i have to make the decision if it is ab option?  And can i manage her pain while that process is happening?

thank you again. 

ps - i know that you, and others as well, have your own situations to navigate.  I don’t mean to be selfish or pretend like that’s not happening.  I just don’t have any thing more to give right now.  Plus, i literally have zero experience here.  Just know that i do care.  I love dogs and i love the humans that care about them and for them.  

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18 June 2023 - 4:38 pm
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Your emotional state is 100% understood and normal. I love my dogs like I gave birth to them and like they are my own flesh and blood. When I was in your shoes, I was so stressed I didn’t even want to do any of my hobbies or work. I didn’t even want to eat. This stuff is always tough because our babies can’t tell us what’s going on. But, I can pretty confidently say that your baby isn’t thinking anything along the lines you are. Your dog is probably wondering why you’re sad. They also pretty much think in terms of either pain and no pain. For Kota, his limping was his indication he was in pain. Honestly, it got to a point where he tried to get up from laying on his side and he yelped so loud and high pitched. I felt awful. I never want to hear that sound again. I knew right away it was time to act. It isn’t selfish to want to fight for your baby and want to give them a fighting chance. 

Talk to your vet about your options. I can tell you that Kota seems happier now that he was before and everyone tells me it’s because his pain is gone. He even still tries to use his non-existent leg to demand scritches. It’s like they don’t know it’s gone. My doctor told me “it’s like they just figure out that the leg was bothering them and that thing bothering them isn’t there anymore so they’re happy”. I was totally shocked and so was the doctor that he was getting around so well and so quickly. Most of the time, the doctors will tell you what they would do in your shoes. I know you love your baby and that’s why I know you will make the right choice, whatever that choice is. But like I said, discuss the options with your doctor and shoot them around on here. We will all support you and we have your back. You are not alone!

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18 June 2023 - 4:46 pm
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Thanks again Justin. I feel exactly as you did at first.  I don’t want to work, do my hobbies, or eat.  Sleeping is tough because i don’t want to get up and have to realize again what is happening.  But I’ve forced myself up every day since Thursday.  

Knowing that others have been, or are in, this situation is definitely comforting.  I’m already very happy that i found this site. i hope to one day be able to contribute to that.  

thanks again 

Virginia







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18 June 2023 - 6:31 pm
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First of all, we KNOW you care about everyone here and their situation, whether past, present or future.  Right now you are trying to process everything...all while your world has stopped and you are an emotional wreck.. zThis situation  has consumed you 24/7.  You ste questioning  your sanity. For me, I had true sobbing hysterics just trying to find my way forward.  I would decide  to amputate,  then not to.. repeat  This went on for weeks (at least). 

Like Justin experienced, I had a moment  where it was clear my Happy Hannah's  pain had crossed the line of "managed  with pain meds" to hurting  so badly she couldn't  put weight on it.  

BTW, my first post here was something like "Day six after amputation  and I fear I have made a HORRIBLE  decision."   Everyone here threw me a lifeline full of tips on how to navigate  recovery and offered the reassurances I needed to know what was "normal" or not.

As you gather all information  you will get more clarity on your path forward.  Doesn't  mean you won't  still be inh. shambles,vut you will have a sliver of normalcy once you have made a decision.  Ues, it's a"forced choice" than none of us ever want to make, but we all must eventually  decide on the path.

 

I'll throw one more thing out there.  This helped me, Would I be second  guessing  everything. If I didn't try (meaning amputation), could I be at peace with that decision and not constantly  asking "what if.....if only", "wudda shudda" etc.  

((((((((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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