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Tazzie's dilemma: which place for treatment????
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Member Since:
13 July 2009
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1 December 2009 - 8:30 pm
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I will put the team tripawd to the test in helping me figure out what to do, although most of you will read this after I (might) be on the road. After mum stayed up late preparing for her last lecture and lab exam, delivered both today, she started to pack for the trip to Calgary where I will get palliative radiation. This will probably consist of a few treatments (2-4) one week apart, so we may be staying in Camp Calgary for one month. Luckily I know people, dogs and parks there so it is kind of like home.

Around 8 pm tonight, someone from CSU returned our call. After noon today, when we expected to hear back from CSU but did not, my mum said she would no longer consider a change in plan, but that is easier said than done. It seems that palliative radiation probably won't shrink the tumor. They normally use the fancy SRS radiation which does shrink tumors when they try to cure the cancer. However, the person from CSU phoned back to say they would consider using the SRS machine if this lump is the factor that is really limiting Tazzie, which it seems to be.

I am stuck. The lump is starting to cause real problems when he sits and in his hopping. He is still relatively happy but his broad smile is starting to wane. He does not whine, but he does let out a little gasp when he lies down, and I think that is due to pain. I'm not sure that palliative radiation can help much if the sheer size of the tumor is in his way.

So, you would think CSU would be an attractive option. Yet that is even farther than Calgary and Tazzie is a home body. He gets really anxious in the car. We can turn Calgary into a 'visit to home' but we can't turn Colorado into that. This whole possibility makes me think that perhaps we should just stay home and let things take their course – increase the pain meds (he has been on very low pain meds) and accept what comes.

If we head to Calgary, we need to be on the road bright and early or else Tazzie will be out of luck for another week. So we can't sit on the decision, at least not one that includes palliative radiation at the closest destination.

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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1 December 2009 - 8:55 pm
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Did the person from CSU give you any percentages on chances of shrinking the tumor?  What does your oncologist say?  I guess if it was me I would weigh the costs as well as the chance for success.  The only reason I did not consider radiation for my Tazzie is that she was in uncontrolled pain and I did not think the trip (only an hour to Seattle) would have been worth the limited chance of success (most dogs with spinal mets can only survive hours to weeks and sometimes the dog remains unable to walk).

Your Tazzie is still able to ambulate well so even if the radiation in Calgary only stops furthur growth would he still be comfortable?  Your other option is of course to stay home but then you might wonder "what if?".  I do not know much about SRS so I'm afraid I can't comment on that but I would probably at least pursue the Calgary option if this was my dog.


Member Since:
20 May 2009
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1 December 2009 - 9:03 pm
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I can't even begin to imagine having to make this decision.  CSU does sound like a good option.  Having said that, you know Tazzie better than anyone else.  What does "really anxious" in the car mean?  Has a hard time relaxing or freaks out?  Could he take some sedative like ace to calm him down or is it beyond that?    Would you be able to stay in Colorado the whole time or would it be repeated trips?  (How long a trip is it?) Would there be a disadvantage to trying stronger pain meds and if they didn't work then going to CSU?  Has the tumor gotten even bigger? Forgive me if you have said this but I don't remember if the lump would be able to removed with surgery.  I am so sorry I am asking questions not giving you advise.  For what it is worth I think I would be tempted to drug Tazzie up with ace, hope he sleeps through the trip, and go to CSU, but I haven't traveled with him.  Please let me know what you decide.  I will be thinking of you and Tazzie and praying you have peace with whatever decision you make.


Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

Orange County, CA
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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1 December 2009 - 10:10 pm
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HI Susan.  This is a tough one.  I'm not sure what to tell you.  I guess I would have to echo what Pam said:  basically, weigh the pros and cons, and see what comes out on top.  Has CSU been able to tell you they believe this will help?  I guess I would be afraid if I didn't try something, would I feel like I missed an opportunity down the line?  But I would probably also ask myself, how much do I want to put my boy through?  Look to Tazzie for your answer.  Is he still a happy dog?  Can he still get around pretty well with no pain?  I'm sorry I can't give better advice.  I think you're going to have to look deep inside, and go with your gut on this one.  Good luck to you and Tazzie, and let us know what you decide.


Member Since:
13 July 2009
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1 December 2009 - 10:11 pm
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Pam - the rub is that I do not really have an oncologist, so have had to call most the shots (and I am not qualified!). There was an oncologist when we were in Calgary last summer and I "Borrowed" one of Maximutt's oncologists for the metronomics advice and prescription. 

The palliative radiation sounds unlikely to shrink the tumor (maybe down to 85% of its size) but is considered highly effective in eliminating pain. Will be interesting to see if pain control is possible with a tumor this huge. I swear it is larger each time I see it. Tonight it is scary big.

The SRS sounds amazing and could potentially knock the tumor back. Side effects do not sound bad either. 

I think I will start with Calgary. The idea of going as far as CSU where we have no home base does not seem like Tazzie's idea of fun. We can at least find out where things stand from the CT scan. I will ask those oncologists if they think the SRS could work or if they can consult with Colorado. If so, perhaps we can consider drugging Tazzie and I could fly down to CSU with him next week. (Is that crazy? Probably.) We might find something from the CT Scan in Calgary that puts the whole CSU option out of the question anyway.

CSU is a teaching hospital, not a money-making business. There is a lot to be said for it, other than geography (at 14 hr, Calgary is far enough; at 20 hour CSU is crazy far).

The CSU oncologist indicated that surgery can end up increasing the blood flow to the tumor, so perhaps that is why this thing has grown like wildfire.

Good night, I'll pack our bags and head west in the a.m. 


Oakland, CA
Member Since:
20 December 2008
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1 December 2009 - 10:17 pm
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Susan and Tazzie,

We'll be thinking of you. Have a safe journey there and back.


Codie Rae and the Oaktown Pack

Woohoo! Tripawds Rule!

Regulator of the Oaktown Pack, Sheriff of the Oaktown Pawsse, Founding member and President of the Tripawd Girldogs With 2 Names ROCK Club, and ... Tripawd Girldog Extraordinaire!

Visit Codie Rae's Blog!

Orange County, CA
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28 November 2008
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1 December 2009 - 10:23 pm
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Good luck Susan.  Let us know what Calgary says.  We'll be thinking of you.

Di, John, Max & Linda

Kirkland, WA
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2 June 2009
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1 December 2009 - 10:46 pm
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Hi Susan!  Here's how I like to decide things...OK, if you DON'T choose to go to CSU, would you always regret your decision not to go?  If you DON'T choose Calgary, would you regret that decision?  There has to be one which you're leaning towards...there always is.  If it were my dog, I would probably do everything in my power to attempt to shrink the tumor because if I didn't I would have to live with that "what if" mentality that is no fun.  Tazzie is happy, he still wants to do things, so why not try the one that could possibly make his tumor smaller and make his life easier?  That being said, cancer most commonly doesn't just disappear, and in Tazzie, it's already spread (blast!).  In this case, it may seem better to just let him stay at home and do everything he so much enjoys doing.  I think that you know what you want to do, and which option you will decide upon.  Just don't regret the decision you make, because any decision you make, will be made with love. 

<3 Laura and Bad Jack

Member Since:
28 May 2008
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1 December 2009 - 10:46 pm
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All our prayers to you Susan and my calendar buddy Taz...we will be thinking of you and sending many heavenly prayers your way. Please keep us posted and know that you are in our hearts.

Tons of love,

Heather and Zeus

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

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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1 December 2009 - 11:00 pm
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It's only crazy since we're not there, if you do go! Best wishes.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
13 July 2009
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1 December 2009 - 11:03 pm
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Gosh Jack - there you go being so deep again.

I think the CSU person said they would still be an option even if we went to Calgary first, so I think that would make sense. Certainly I would not regret having treatment at CSU (how could one?), but I could regret the ridiculous road trip. When I adopted Tazzie, a 3 page letter was attached to his cage explaining just how bad he was around and in cars. He is better than that now (he will get in the car and is happy to ride to the park), but is still a bit of a drama queen, pant, pant, whine, whine, droooolll. I take a long a good supply of water when traveling with "Boyo". On a 14 hr car trip, he once sat down - I timed it for all of 5 seconds.

The CSU option just came up too late (tonight!) and I don't really have the full story. If only I had sent my inquiry earlier last week, blast. Then it might be in the cards.

For the record, If we were starting the OSA journey again and I knew what I think I know now, I'd try to head straight to CSU upon diagnosis. The SRS machine is definitely worth considering.

Thanks Team Tripawd!

East Bay, CA
Member Since:
6 August 2009
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1 December 2009 - 11:37 pm
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My heart is with you on this journey! I'll have you know that I wouldn't blink an eye at that trip if I thought it would make a great difference. I think you are making a good decision by going to Calgary first, getting their opinions as well, then making your own (more informed) decision about what you should do next. Everyone is right, of course, let your heart lead you because you know Tazzie better than anyone. But having more information makes a big difference too.

I've noticed a lot of people writing (not only here, but in my "other" life too) about being or feeling stuck or powerless. Odd bit of trivia here, in Vedic astrology this is a time when everyone feels a bit stuck and powerless as Mars is "retrograde" meaning not at his best. Mars is our strength and forward motion, I think. Anyway, I pulled that out of my hat because I thought it fitting. I have been feeling very powerless lately, and I know these tumors growing does not make you feel any stronger. I think the light in this is knowing that we won't be "stuck" or powerless forever.

Hope this makes sense, as I'm writing under the influence of Nyquil.

Lucky me, the math required for this post is "1+1"

May 2001-Jan 21, 2010.....I'm a dog and I'm AWESOME!..... Always.

Montréal , Canada
Member Since:
31 July 2009
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2 December 2009 - 7:42 am
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Tazzie and Susan,

Just to let you know that Oslo, Oslodaddy and myself are wishing you both a safe trip (to Calgary or CSU).  Oslo would love to show Tazzie how fun a car ride can be. 

Big BIG hugs

Member Since:
13 July 2009
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2 December 2009 - 7:46 am
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followup this morning

We are staying home in Winnipeg. Had some doubts when I woke this morning about how we want to spend our remaining time. (If this was one or two weeks ago when Tazzie was hopping crazily about and the lump was not the physical obstruction that it has become, it would be different.) There was no doubt once I saw Tazzie move about. He is no longer up to the trip, for he is having much more difficulty getting around than yesterday and is not particularly comfortable. I gave him some Gabepentin and will see if that helps. We have had a good few months and I will try to make the remaining time as nice as can be.

take care all you tripawds

Member Since:
16 February 2008
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2 December 2009 - 8:11 am
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Susan,  U of Sask. vet school just came into my mind.  Have you tried them?  If they coud offer similar treatment as the Calgary oncologist, that would definitely cut down a LOT of driving.

I like the idea to take the Calgary route first, have Tazzie treated asap as least to cut down the pain.  After a few sessions of treatment, then re-assess his condition and decide on whether to pursue CSU.

Thinking of you and Tazzie.  Hugs!

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