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heartbroken, it is in Spencer's lungs, need fast advice
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Georgia
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6 January 2012 - 10:44 am
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I just got off of the phone with the oncologist.  All of my positive thinking didn't work.  (I'm still in Wyoming on our ski trip, my husband got back yesterday and dropped spencer off today at the oncologist's office).

 

The 3 nodules that they were thinking might be lymph nodes in Spencer's chest are actually 3 nodules in his lungs.  Cancer.  It came up while he was on all of the chemo.

 

I have to call them back to talk about treatment options; but need some fast advice.  They said we could bring Spencer home and do nothing and that likely within the next 2 months we would need to put him to sleep.  Or we can try carboplatin every 3 weeks.  they give him about a 30 – 40% chance of that buying him 6-12 months.

 

Honestly, I'm leaning towards just bringing home.  I feel like we just can't beat this.  I don't want to be dragging him in there for more injections, that he hates so much.  And I just don't know if I feel like we are going to buy him much, if any time.  I mean, these things grew WHILE he was on once per week chemo (3 week cycles – week 1 mitox, weeks 2 and 3 vincristine, then back to mitox).  He had just finished that chemo – 15 weeks of it and 5 days later we found these 3 nodules – one the size of a quarter, 2 the size of dimes.  

 

Advice please.  Is it worth it to try the carboplatin?  How hard is that.  I'd rather have him happy and himself for a month or so, then sick and run down for 6 months.

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

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6 January 2012 - 11:05 am
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I wish I knew what to say.  With Magic, after the amputation we tried different chemos, but he had discernible lung mets at the first one….by the end, we had tried lots of chemo and one experimental one (very pricey) and he was on all kinds of meds starting at 4 AM every morning.  Until the day he looked at me and the look just said “no more, please.”  We were roughly three months from amputation to Bridge.  He wasn't terribly miserable for the first part of that time, but then things started really going sideways and it was a case of trying to plug every hole…incontinence, drugs for that, kidney problem, drugs for that, drugs for nausea, trying different foods (and of course Cherry's Magic Bisquets) begging him to eat….

 

Everyone has to make their own decisions and reading over what I've just typed, I'm wondering if I should even send it, it isn't very optimistic.  On the other hand, there are much more optimistic stories than ours.  In the end  I think it has to be quality of life vs. quantity…it is very difficult to know what to do in a particular case.  I wish you peace in whatever you choose and that you enjoy every minute with your furkid.

In your heart, where I belong.
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6 January 2012 - 11:29 am
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I've not had to deal with chemo so I can't give you specifics. I just want to try to help you find a little clarity. When you say Spencer hates going to the vet for injections, what do you really mean? Does he hate the car, does he hate the actual office, does he hate the injection? If you had to rate his distaste for it all, how bad is it? Because if you'd rate it as a 3 (out of 10), that makes your decision much different than if you'd rate it as an 8. And when he's back home, how long does it take him to get back to his old self? An hour? A day? A week?

When they try to give you statistical probability for long-term survival, I think sometimes they do rock-paper-scissors before deciding what percentage to tell you. Honestly, they hate to give out numbers like that but we humans demand it. So they give us a best guess based on a combination of all sorts of things (which you know), and because it's an average hardly any dog will land right on that number. That's why you get dogs like Magic who unfortunately did not do well and was not helped much by chemo, and then you get dogs like Abby whose chemo has kept her very much in the battle over a year later (and whose lung mets are at least held at bay). And Spencer could be anywhere along the path. 

Again, I know I'm not really giving you advice for what you asked about. I do hope that I can help you see that trying to guess Spencer's prognosis is a game with no way to win. You simply don't know, just as you don't know if the chemo he's been on helped or not. It is easy to assume that it did no good because of these mets, but maybe he would have had them earlier or had more of them without it. So the answer is that there is no answer. You will drive yourself nuts if you try to predict how long he will be here. Quality is what you want, I know, and only you and Spencer can assess that. What do you think Spencer wants? Does he want to play with your children still? Does he have fun? Is he acting exhausted (in spirit as well as in body)? If you decide to try the new drugs, you don't have to continue if he doesn't do well. This road has many opportunities to pull off. Please remember that. 

You may feel that you have to decide what to do immediately, but you don't. Spencer is ok for the moment. Maybe you should take this weekend and spend some quiet time with Spencer and see if he will guide you. Whatever you decide, Spencer will love you. That's just how he is.

Shari

From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.

Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at http://shari.tr.....pawds.com/

knoxville, tn
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6 January 2012 - 11:29 am
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we were dealing with a different experience (lymph system invasion, not lung mets) so we don't have any relatable suggestions.  i just know, when it was time, we knew.  if all of the 'efforts' don't buy quality time, then maybe time alone isn't enough.  you know how spencer feels, and if he can be happy just enjoying the time you have with him at home…free from needles and vets.  whatever you decide, it will be right, because it's based on your love for spencer.  you guys are in our thoughts.

charon & spirit gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends

http://etgayle

Rock Hill, SC
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6 January 2012 - 11:31 am
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I am so sorry to hear this news.

I don’t know how much this will help, but since you are needing info ASAP, I’ll throw in our two cents.  We are on our second treatment of Carboplatin today (Zeus is scheduled for 6 rounds – one every three weeks).  He had absolutely no reaction to the first treatment (appetite great, eliminating fine, no vomiting) except maybe a tiny bit of lethargy about three days after the treatment.  I have had several members tell me that the effects can be cumulative in their system and that we may see more impact after three or four treatments.

When Zeus was diagnosed, we had a CT scan of the lungs and it showed a “suspicious” spot.  However, the spot was so small that the vet admitted he probably would not have seen it on regular x-rays which is the standard protocol (you probably know by now that if mets show on x-rays then the prognosis is poor, but that left us questioning if we were being “punished” for choosing the more expensive, more sensitive CT scan instead of the regular x-rays b/c if he wouldn’t have seen it on the x-rays then we would proceed with chemo like normal – see Zeus’ Journey blog posting for more detail)  The vet then assured us that dogs tolerate the Carboplatin just fine.  He suggested that, if the chemo doesn’t work and the (possible) lung met grew and made him sick then we could put him to sleep at that time and he wouldn't be any more sick than he would be if we didn’t give the chemo and the met grew. 

Hopefully others with more experience will see your post and offer their advice before you need to make a decision.  I wish you the best of luck!

Lisa

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

Georgia
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6 January 2012 - 11:41 am
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Thanks everyone.  When I say Spencer hates his chemo appointments – it isn't MAJOR.  He loves to get in the car (this is probably one more way it is great to have the cabin – I think that he is always optimistic that we are headed to the cabin when he gets in the car wink); but when we get off the exit for the vet he starts to whine.  Then when we walk in the oncologist's building he tries to turn around and walk back out.  He gets a little shivery while we wait.  They say his is fine while he is getting treatment though.

 

What really sucks right now is that I'm in Wyoming (with the kids, on a ski trip), so I can't even be there for him this weekend.  My husband assures me that he is still his usual self – loving to run around, wanting to be where ever people are, not seeming to be sick at all.

 

I decided to go ahead with the first carboplatin today.  We'll just take it 1 treatment at a time.  The protocol this time is a treatment every 3 weeks for 6 total treatments.  I do feel that likely the chemo he was on at least slowed down these damn mets and that there is probably a good chance that he wouldn't be here with us now had we not done that chemo.  With it he handled things well, some sleepy days, a little throwing up; but nothing too major.  Hopefully this one will be the same.

 

I updated his blog with a few more thoughts.  Thanks for being here for us with advice and compassion.

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 January 2012 - 2:15 pm
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I just now caught up with your news, and am so sorry to hear this. You've gotten some fantastic input from others here, I'm so glad it helped.

It sounds like you are going with your instinct, which is the best thing to do. Taking things one day at a time is all anyone is capable of, since after all, all we have is the Here and Now, right?

When I was diagnosed with lung mets, it was 17 months beyond my cancer diagnosis. I could've been living with those mets the entire time; we didn't know for sure, because we decided not to have periodic x-rays (I didn't have IV chemo). Our goal was to take things day by day and not worry about what we knew the inevitable outcome would be. It worked. We had a BLAST. And when it came time to deal with the lung mets, we dealt with them as best we could.

I lived for another 7 months after the lung mets were discovered, until they took over about 80 percent of one lung. So keep in mind that just because a dog has mets, doesn't mean that it's an instant death sentence. An even better example of this is my friend Reno, who has live three plus years after mets were discovered in his lungs, during his chemo rounds. See:
//tripawds.com/2011/04/01/reno-3-years-thriving-with-canine-osteosarcoma-and-lung-mets/

I hope his story brings you comfort. Good luck with the carbo, we're here to help however we can OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Caledonia MI
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6 January 2012 - 2:17 pm
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Yeah, I was so upset when I read your update too.  I am walking out the door to the vet.  We are trying a new chemo but I don't have a great feeling about it.  Just so you know, Levi tolerated the Carbolatin totally fine.  Noside effects at all and he's normally a pretty sensitive dog.  I will update you when we get back.  We are leaving on a 10 day trip on two weeks.  I'm scared to death something will happen while we are gone.  I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.  Spencer will be in our thoughts.

Levi was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma 7-7-11
Ampuversary 10-14-11
Lung Mets Discovered 1-4-12. Chemo seemed to not be working so we switched to Artemisinin and other supplements. In May, Levi developed a sinus infection and started having seizures. The cancer had moved to his brain. We let him go 6-26-12.

Golden Girls
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6 January 2012 - 2:28 pm
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I'm also late in reading this post. Don't have any experience with carboplatin, as Skyler had vinblastin & cytoxin.

By the way, where in Georgia are you? I'm in Duluth, and took Skyler & Chloe to Georgia Veterinary Services (GVS). Great place if you have to go….

Sending you many golden hugs, and saying lots of prayers too!

Cathy

Georgia
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6 January 2012 - 2:37 pm
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Cathy – Spencer sees Dr. Hamilton at GVS for oncology.  His cardiologist is there too (though right now he is just being watched for cardiology).  We are in Powder Springs/Kennesaw!

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

WYO
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6 January 2012 - 4:50 pm
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You must be vacationing in Jackson……too bad you are not closer….I'd give you a hug, I think you could use one today!

Spencer has battled so much! What a warrior he is!

Chicago, IL
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6 January 2012 - 5:34 pm
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I don't have anything to add, except that I'm sorry for the bad news.  I know you'll make the right decisions for Spencer, clearly you are in tune with your pup and want the best for him.

http://tate.tripawds.com/
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

Georgia
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6 January 2012 - 5:41 pm
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anjl said:

You must be vacationing in Jackson……too bad you are not closer….I'd give you a hug, I think you could use one today!

Spencer has battled so much! What a warrior he is!

We are actually staying in Driggs, ID and skiing at Grand Targhee; but close enough to Jackson.  😉  I'll take some virtual hugs though.

 

The kids are back now and I'm trying hard to just not let on that anything is wrong.  They are going to be so upset and I can't see ruining their last day of skiing (tomorrow), or them having to deal with a day of travel being all upset (all day Sunday).  We don't have school on Monday (crazy school calendar!), so I'm going to tell them Monday and we are going to hang out with Spencer.  Then next weekend we will go up to the cabin for a 3 day weekend with him, I think that will be good for them.  

 

Thanks for being here for me guys.  A lot of people IRL probably think I'm crazy with the things I do for our pets.  Especially with what we have done/will do with Spencer.  I know that people have thought we were crazy to do the chemo and am certain they are going to think I'm plain loco to do even more.  But I really feel like the chemo he has been on has likely slowed this crap in his lungs.  And he has felt mostly fine through all of it, with no more than a day at a time (per treatment) of feeling a little bad.  Since that was with more frequent and I believe stronger treatments, I am hopeful that he will have little reaction to these; but that it will buy us hopefully months.  He still seems to feel fine.  Through this whole thing you would never know he was sick!!  With our last doberman (Baron) who got lung cancer (started in the lungs) he was already pretty far along when we found out (he was also older).  he had seemed fine (for his age – 11) until he had surgery to have what ended up being a fatty tumor removed.  After that surgery he just didn't bounce back.  He had such a hard time.  First we thought he had pneumonia from aspirating on fluid after surgery; but then we figured out it was cancer.  While he got better for a while, he did seem sick from even before the diagnosis.  With Spencer that isn't the case at all.  He hasn't slowed down, he is full of life and energy and loving every day.  And as long as that is the case, we are going to enjoy every day with him.  After this trip he will be with someone from our family, no more dog sitters.  The kids and I will be going to Charleston for my son's gymnastics meet; but my husband will stay home that weekend to keep Spencer.  Other than that, I don't think there will be any other trips we do without him.  

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

San Diego, CA
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6 January 2012 - 6:16 pm
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I don’t have a lot to add, but did want to say that I know how much that news sucks. We’ve been there. You can see what all we’ve done w/ Abby in my sig. She’s gone over a year since we spotted her first wee met. It’s close to the end of the ride, but it’s been a really good ride with her.

If Spencer does not do well on the carbo – or starts to dread the vet visits even more – maybe talk to them about trying Palladia or Masitinib. You can give it a home every day so that would cut down on his vet visits. Abby had bad GI issues w/ Palladia and we ultimately had to stop it, but another dog here on Tripawds (Lucky) had his mets disappear. They were small (I’ve seen the xray since we go to the same onc) – maybe pencil eraser size – but there were a lot and they all went away. Amazing!

I hope you get a lot more good time with Spencer. Hang in there. Love him up and enjoy whatever time you get.
Jackie, Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Georgia
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6 January 2012 - 6:47 pm
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So I have a question… It turns out that he has 4 mets.  One the size of a quarter, 2 about dime sized and one smaller.  Are those considered big, small, average, what?  Is that a lot of them.  There were absolutely NOT there August 26.  So have grown to this size in 4 months, while on chemo.

 

Ugh.  I wish I could have been at the vet's office today rather than having to do this over the phone.  And I was kind of just in shock, so didn't come up with much to ask.  

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

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