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Received bad news after amputation - Had to start chemo today and feeling hopeless
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Member Since:
17 November 2023
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6 December 2023 - 7:32 pm
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Hello Everyone,

I am so grateful to this site and these forums for getting us through the first 2 weeks of my sweet boy's front leg amputation due to a subcutaneous mast cell tumor. I lived and breathed through the advice pages and postings on here and for that I am eternally grateful. sp_hearticon2

My 12-year-old Tibetan Terrier, Wrigley, was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor on the bicep area of his front left leg about a month ago. It seemed to appear out of nowhere. We went to the oncologist who recommended amputation as the best possible treatment. At the time that seemed earth-shattering, but I am happy to report he went through the surgery and recovery of the amputation with flying colors and is racing up the stairs already after getting his stiches out this morning. (Again, I am owing most of his stellar recovery to the insight and guidance I found here!)

Pre-amputation, his chest and abdominal scans were clear, as were the aspirates from the liver and spleen. I felt very hopeful. Then the surgeon mentioned that during the amputation, he found the lymph node next to the tumor enlarged so he took that out as well. He told us to wait for the pathology before we freaked out and to pray for the grade to be a 0 or a 1, anything but a 3. We went in to get the amputation stiches removed today and he dealt me a blow that felt like a 2X4 across the face - the tumor in Wrigley's arm had metastasized to the lymph node he removed and it was a grade 3. They explained it as, they removed it (in removing the arm and lymph node), but the grade 3 indicates the almost sure occurrence that cells from the tumor spread elsewhere even if it's not obvious. 

Chemo was recommended of course, and we actually were able to start it today. We are doing 8 injections of Vinblastine - once a week for 4 weeks and then every other week for 4 more doses. Following that, they will do the chest/ab scans and liver/spleen aspirates to check for evidence of spread. We will then continue will oral chemo, Palladia. 

While the surgeon was hopeful and said the grade 3 tumor found in the removed lymph node was not a death sentence - that if he is clear in 6 months we have lots of reasons to hope, and that if he's clear in a year he could live a full life - the oncologist left me shaking and sobbing as she made it sound like 9 months - maybe less, maybe more - is something to expect/consider/realistically think about.

My Wrigley is my best friend, the most empathic and sweet souled boy I've ever known. He seems so healthy otherwise and still finds so much joy in every day - it seems almost impossible to fathom I could only be facing weeks or months. I have been pouring over medical articles and none really help me one way or the other. I am desperately trying not to let stats or prognosis of months completely derail me, and I just wanted to see if anyone has had a similar experience with the MCT and/or high-grade tumors and chemotherapy and if I have any reason to be hopeful. 

Sorry this was so long and any guidance would be so unbelievably appreciated. Thank you again for this community. It has already been such a godsend. 

Best to all who are living with this horrible disease in their bestest friends.sp_hearticon2

Virginia







Member Since:
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6 December 2023 - 9:34 pm
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Okay, deep breaths.  We know this isn’t what you were expecting and, we know jist like the  ent said, this is not a “death sentence’.

While I don’t have specific insight into your particular situation, I k ow others here have more experience.  Stubborn Pug Maggie had a mast cell and, if I recall, her “ prognosis” was six months  four years later she passed.

My Happy Hannah’s lymph node was so bad when they took it out, it supposedly  Disintegrated.   She had osteo and got her wings one year and two months later after living  large and happy..

I guess what  I’m  trying to say is statistics and prognosis don’t mean much here.  Your Onco has laid out a plan that he feels confident about.  AlthpughVets often share worse case scenario it’s important to remember the best case scenario can also apply to Wrigley He has sailed thru recovery and is already ahead of the curve at the two week mark.

As you know, the most important thing is to focus on the here and now. Wrigley is doing just fine in here now. He didn’t hear one single word about any lymph node involvement or anything else. All he knows is he feels good, he’s pain-free and he’s being loved and spoiled every day more than any dog ever could be.

others will chime in.  For now, stop reading anything on Dr Google….he’s not real…he’s fake!

(((((((((((((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 December 2023 - 10:50 am
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Hi and welcome back. My apologies for not being able to answer last night.

I'm so glad that Wrigley is doing well with the mobility and other aspects of life on three. That is really something to celebrate! He's had a recovery we all hope for, especially with older dogs.

I'm so sorry you got the bad news. I get it, that kind of report is like getting the original diagnosis all over again. It knocks the wind out of you.  All I can say is to reiterate what Sally offered; Wrigley is his own dog, with his own physiology. Statistics are not crystal balls and they don't take his own physiology into consideration. They are general guidelines as to what may happen, but don't put so much weight on them. While you can see lots of MCT examples here in our community, none of them can predict what will happen with Wrigley.

Focus on how well Wrigley is doing. Sure, it hurts to know what he doesn't know. But don't let that get in the way of the time you have together. Remember, the only way cancer can win is when we spend so much energy and emotions obsessing about the what-ifs, and living in a state of fear. Wrigley will pick up your emotions so the more hopeful you can be, the more he will reflect it right back to you. And that is the best medicine there is!

Livermore, CA




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7 December 2023 - 1:42 pm
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Hello, I am Spirit TriPug Maggie's mom.

I was exactly were you are now, I went into the amp surgery for a MCT in her knee thinking it would be curative. At the two week checkup I got the news...the cancer was in the lymph system, her prognosis was downgraded to poor and with chemo her life expectancy was 6 to 9 months.

Her recovery from surgery had not been easy- no medical issues just a supper stubborn Pug who didn't like change to her routine.  But at the time I got the news about the cancer spread that didn't matter, every thing in my mind was pointing to the terrible decisions I had made, I had ruined the little bit of life she had left.

Jumping ahead- we did do chemo and Mag lived almost 4 more years, she passed from a second, unrelated cancer and some other health issues.  You can read her story and the info about her amp and chemo if you are interested, the links are in my signature below.  Just be aware that her amp and chemo were in 2006/2007- there have been new treatments developed since then, palladia is and example.

I spent those first 6 to 9 months watching the calendar, and honestly waiting for her to pass.  Meanwhile she was hopping along and enjoying every day as dogs do.  I was so fortunate that she beat the odds and I finally was able to see beyond the prognosis and enjoy each day with her. 

Not every dog is so lucky of course, but what I learned from that experience was to keep an optimistic outlook until Maggie showed me there was a real reason- not just the prognosis or the stats. 

Around here we say: Be More Dog .  Dog's live in the moment they don't care about stats or prognosis, they don't know they are sick.  In Maggie's case as long as we got in a walk (with the stroller), some treats, some playtime with her favorite toys and most importantly all her meals were plentiful and on time, then it was her best day!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

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

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12 December 2023 - 5:21 am
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Hey Kellen. I’m right there with you right now going through the same thing. My pup Zoey, my best buddy, got her amputation on Thursday. It’s day 5 and the biopsy results are back and possibly worse than what we thought. I had hope that with chemo I’d have at least another year with her. Right now, it’s looking like less. I’m feeling hopeless.I’m trying to appreciate every moment I have with her, but it’s so damn hard when there’s and expectation of the time they have left. Just wanted to let you know I’m right there. If you need to talk during this process, feel free to reach out. I know I could use the support 😢

Virginia







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12 December 2023 - 8:52 am
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Hey Jeremy. Just replied to your other post.  Sorry, didn see it til just now.  Have some suggestions  for you and some reassurance 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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12 December 2023 - 1:47 pm
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Thank you Sally, Jerry, and Karen for your heartfelt responses. I dedicated this past weekend to processing everything and I read and reread your responses so many times which really helped me refocus my energy into spending every second I have with him in a state of gratitude rather than impending doom and gloom. (It goes without saying that the doom and gloom creep in in the form of paralyzing anxiety from time to time, but I am handling those spells a bit better now with therapy and some intentional self care.)

Maggie's inspirational story really gives me a lot of hope - I know that it could go the other way, but knowing that it is possible in the same situation really helps in my darkest moments when I find myself counting time. Wrigley shares in Maggie's stubborn spirit so I am hoping that trait bodes well for fighting off this dreadful disease!

I love to hear that Hannah got another year and 2 months full of joy after a similar lymph node situation as well. Thank you for helping me realize that prognosis and stats are not the only thing to hang your hat on here. (I am also happy to report that I have completely stopped obsessively googling his diagnosis!)

And thank you for the link to all the MCT cases. I found hope and community among those postings and it helped me put a lot in perspective. Wrigley is incredibly dialed in to my emotions and always takes care of me, so he deserves for me to pour hope and positivity into him. I am not going to let this disease take our joy from us.

Wrigley handled his first chemo week really well. Aside from only eating a portion of his breakfast the past 2 days, he has been happy and his usual self. He is still thriving as a tripawd and has adapted so quickly which has helped me not feel so terrible about the decision to move forward with the amputation even with the further prognosis.

We took time this weekend to celebrate how well he has been doing and finally brought him over to my parents so he could spend some time with his 5 biological brothers (my family are kind of crazy Tibetan Terrier people!) which was good for everyone. He has a non-biological Tibetan sister here with him at home who defines the word diva and although she loves him dearly, she mostly just is annoyed that he is getting more attention than her with the extra car rides to the doctor...if she only knew!

Thank you again for this community and your responses; I can't put into words how much they mean to me. Thank you, truly.

Kellen & Wrigley

Virginia







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12 December 2023 - 2:09 pm
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      (I am also happy to report that I have completely stopped obsessively googling his diagnosis!)

A lot of things made me smile in your update, but this made me want to give you a stand ovation👏  That is exactly what you need to do to  focus on the here and now and ke3p that pawsitive energy flowing to Wrigley.  Not saying this  is easy and not saying you might have a "gloom and doom" moment, but you know how to redirect your focus.  

When you can draw on the grace of *living in an attitude of gratitude"  fear cannot enter your spirit,  They cannot co-exist.  

Thoroughly  enjoyed learning more about Wrigley's  extended  family....hoomans and puppers.  He certainly  is a well .loved boy♥️

So glad he did well with the chemo.  Wrigley is showing you he is thriving, and will continue  to thrive.  All we can do is give them a chance at extended  quality  lofe.  That is all they would want from us.  Days on a calendar  mean nothing  to Wrigley.   Being by your side, enjoy9ng carrides, being spoiled  and loved and adored.........that's  all that matters.

Give yourself a pat on the pat for grasping  some of the life lessons Wrigley  is teach you.  You are a great student!👏👍

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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12 December 2023 - 2:11 pm
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Jeremy,

I am so sorry you received bad news too. I completely understand how you are feeling and Wrigley is my best friend like Zoey is yours. To think of a world without them is so incredibly painful, especially when you have to face the possibility of their time being cut short when you know they have so much more life in them. It's so freaking unfair. It sucks. It's completely heartbreaking. I absolutely hate it here.

I am still struggling every day I wake up and remember what is going on. The first few days all I could do was shake and cry and felt like I would never be happy again, but I spent a lot of time on this site reading people's messages and stories which helped me realize that we don't know how it is going to work out. There is hope even when it feels hopeless. I have been holding on to what Karen said above: keep an optimistic outlook until they show a real reason to worry. Wrigley is still his usual self and I am going to hold onto that with everything I have until he shows me I need to start worrying. As much as I hate to admit it, I am not a naturally optimistic person, so when I say I am doing that, know that I understand it's not just a switch you can flip and takes a lot of work. It has been worth it for me though to spend considerably energy to find hope.

Like I said the stories and advice on here really helped me past the darkness I felt wrapped up in the first few days after the news so I hope you can find similar comfort like I did. I also have been processing with my therapist which has helped me a lot. It has helped to have a dedicated space where I can pour everything out and get some support on how to take care of myself during all of this. I try spending every second I have with Wrigley soaking in all the things I love about him and when I find myself obsessing about time, I force myself not to stay there by focusing on how great he is doing today.

Thank you so much for reaching out - it really helps to know I am not alone in this. You are not either - I am here for you any time you want to talk as well. I know how miserable you are feeling and I promise you I will keep you and sweet Zoey in my thoughts and prayers. sp_hearticon2

Kellen and Wrigley

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 December 2023 - 8:44 pm
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Aww so glad we could help you find your way through those very difficult emotions!  That is a major milestone for you personally, and it's going to help Wrigley so much in his own fight against this disease. Your pawsitive emotions are the best medicine for him! And you're right, don't let cancer steal your joyful moments that you are sharing. Even the most ordinary things are a reason to celebrate, and cherish. Cancer can never take that away if you don't allow it to.

Many dogs will defy the odds and thrive longer than anyone anticipated. It's not guaranteed, but we've seen it here many times, even when the prognosis was poor. You just never know what will happen, and if there's one "gift" that cancer can give us, it's showing us how precious time with our loved ones really is. We take so much for granted before it hits us like a ton of bricks. If we can manage to overcome our fears for the sake of our Tripawd, we can claim victory over this disease no matter what the future holds. 

We all hope he keeps kicking butt and thriving. Please know we are here for you to lean on in good times and bad, whatever questions or new you have, we'll try to help.

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