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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know all too well how supportive this forum is when going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. I was here in 2014 (hemangio) and 2015 (soft tissue sarcoma). After the deaths of my other GRs I adopted Fionn in 2015. http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...7274-gr-4-rescue-3-hole-my-heart-filling.html
He has been an absolute joy and just a perfect boy. I have a horse and he loves to run like a maniac at the barn and I noticed him limping a little after jumping out of the back seat of my truck. That was end of Aug. I gave him some meloxicam and curtailed the trips to the barn for awhile and he got better. Then, he limped again and I took him to the vet. When he palpated his shoulder he yelped right where the biceps tendon inserts so we thought, yeah, he wrenched his shoulder. More meds and rest, some improvement, a tentative trip to the barn (he really loves it out there so I felt bad) where he took off like a crazy dog and BAM, lots of limping. Back to the vet yesterday and xrays this time. Both of us sure he had a bad shoulder.
Well, it's a bad shoulder all right. Likely osteosarcoma of the humeral head. My vet was shocked and deeply upset. Fionn is only 7. My other 3 GRs lived to 11 and 12 so that was the "number" I had in my head in regards to longevity. God, this sucks. As in the past, this forum was very useful to me last night- between bouts of crying- and now I know a bunch about a FOURTH cancer in dogs (my first died of lymphoma). I spent some time on the Tripaws website in case I choose to do an amputation and that is also an awesome place for cancer information. Especially osteosarcoma as amputation is one of the very few treatments.
We go to UCDavis tomorrow for a consultation. I was there with my Cooper and they were wonderful. They do have 2 clinical trials going on now for osteo and many others for other cancers. Some trials do not require you to get treatment at UCD so it's worth a look even if you don't live in the area. Other vet schools and large vet hospitals also have trials. Google is your friend.
My main concern is his pain level (much, much worse suddenly). Unfortunately, the gold standard is amputation if the dog can tolerate it followed by chemo- a very expensive treatment which I just can't afford. Amputation cures the pain, chemo buys time, but this cancer is fatal eventually. He has no mets in his lungs on the CXR which is good and he's a good candidate for amputation. Bone pain is the worst pain ever. I work in a hospital doing MRI and cancer pts with bone disease are the hardest to manage pain wise. It never really goes away. That part is killing me. He is so uncomfortable even on nsaids and 4 tramadol every 8 hrs. UCD can give him bisphosphonate which is supposed to help with bone pain. FYI-it used to be very expensive because it was a human-only drug, but they told me it was just released for veterinary use and the price is much lower in case anyone is looking into it's use.
One of the trials includes amputation and chemo, one is palliative only (radiation and immunotherapy). Both studies pay for a large portion of the treatments. I will see what seems best after our visit tomorrow and whether he qualifies for either one. I'm worried about the after care from an amputation. I am single and work full time. I would have to take a few weeks off at least and I have the time, I'm not sure my employer will be sympathetic. I think of Fionn as a family member, but employers tend not to. The radiation treatments may not take care of the pain as well and there is risk of fracture. He's so healthy otherwise and the pain hasn't affected his appetite one bit. None of my other dogs had this kind of obvious pain. GAH I hate this! He has too much life in him to not try and give him some more quality time, but I will not let him be in pain like this for long that's for sure.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who went the palliative route with radiation and no amputation. It does require many visits and lots of anesthesia and, since he is naturally active, I'm concerned about the potential for fracture since it is in his front leg where they carry most of their weight.

Why is it always the good dogs? This may sound mean, but there are a number of nasty, snarling little dogs in my neighborhood who lunge, snapping at Fionn even if we are on the other side of the road. Why can't it be one of them and not my sweet, lovable boy? :crying:
 

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I'm so sorry about Fionn's diagnosis. I have not been through this from the owner side, only the vet side, so I really cannot give you the sort of words of wisdom you are looking for. I will say, you are going to the right place to the right people. It's where I went to school, I did chemo with one of my cats there about 10 years after I graduated, and they have always been wonderful.

I will be thinking good thoughts from close by, in Sacramento!
 

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I'm so very sorry about Fionn, I pray your consult with UC Davis will provide answers and options for you.

My thoughts are with you and your special boy.
 

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I'm so sorry to see this. I have no experience with this, but just wanted to let you know that we're thinking of you. It isn't fair.
 
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OMG!!! I can not believe what I just read about Fionn!! However, he was rescued by you because you have and will love and take care of him no matter what. I am sorry you were both dealt this crummy card of cancer. I can only wish you luck tomorrow and for whatever path you chose for treatment. Thoughts and prayers are with you and Fionn!!
 

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I am so sorry to read about this - it is horrible. Prayers and good thoughts are sent your way.
 

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I am so sorry about the diagnosis. He is a beautiful boy. Good luck at Davis.
 

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I am so sorry...there really are no words for what you and your precious Fionn are facing. Sending you both strength, positive thoughts and wishes for a positive outcome under these circumstance.
 

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Fionn

I can't tell you how sorry I am for your news about Fionn. It just doesn't seem fair at all.
I have no experience to share with you, except that I googled osteosarcoma of the femoral head on this forum and came up with Beau's story:
http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/search.php?searchid=11354370

Here is what I got from this forum, when I googled osteosarcoma:
http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/search.php?searchid=11354394

I agree with others that you are going to the right people and I also agree that if it was my dog, it would depend on the level of his pain. Goldens are such special dogs!
 

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I'm so sorry for this diagnoses. I hope the treatment options give you years and years with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The bad news from our visit to UCDavis was one of the 2 clinical trials has been put on hold with no estimate of when they might be able to start again. This was the study that included amputation and chemo. This study would have covered the costs of everything except they only pay $1500 for the amputation which still would have been a big help. The other study is palliative and includes radiation and a type of immuno therapy injected into the tumor. It requires many visits, many anesthesias and an increased risk of fracture. I do not want to put him through that. So I am left with covering the entire cost of amputation ($3000) and chemo ($2000) and associated tests. Life expectancy is 12 months this way and 4-6 if I choose not to do the chemo. I could also keep him on the pain meds and add an injection of bisphosphonate which would help significantly with his pain. His current pain control on meloxicam, tramadol and now gabapentin is not enough. He still limps and cannot go down stairs without help. My other choice is to euthanize. I hate to have to make this decision based on financial considerations because I can't put a "price tag" on his life, but another $5000 on top of the $1500 I've spent to get to this point is more than I can handle. I'm going to take some time to decide, but I need to have him in surgery next week if I want to give him the best chance for a longer life span. He does not have signs of spread into his lungs so that was a bit of good news in this sea of badness! I will let you all know what I decide because I know it helps others who are or will be in this same position. Thank you for all your support everyone! It is greatly appreciated!
 

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If you don't have it already, check into CareCredit. It is a credit account for medical/vet expenses. Maybe being able to make payments might help you make a decision about the the money. It's an awful part of the decision making to have to consider.
 

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I'm sorry for the diagnosis. Decisions like this are tough. There's no right or wrong - you just have to do what's best for you and for him. This is such a crappy disease. I'm sending kind thoughts your way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Some good news!

I got a call today from UC Davis and they have a cancellation on their student surgery schedule next week. Having a 4th year resident do the surgery (under supervision of course) is a flat fee of $1200 including all pre op and post op labs, xrays and meds. Much easier to manage and leaves me room to do the chemo if I decide to go that route. I did get a Carecredit card so I don't have to pay all at once. The vet school has payment plans too so if anyone is faced with a financial decision like this, do check on your options for paying. He is scheduled to go in on Wed and surgery on Thurs. He will come home on Fri if all goes well. Terrifying to think they send them home that quick, but its pretty standard. The gabapentin they added to his regimen seems to be helping too. He's still limping, but not whining and more active.
 

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thats fantastic, and im really happy for you. wishing your boy a swift recovery. Bless you both.
 
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