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I'm not a doctor, but I have been diving head first into this new world of cancer, cancer treatments and a fresh new tripod dog. I hope that this information might be helpful to someone! Don't get me wrong, I was a puddle of emotions for weeks and weeks and lost sleep waiting for biopsy calls etc... but the more calm, informed and upbeat you can be, the better you can help guide your sweet golden through these series of tough obstacles. Wine and cupcakes, for you, does wonders.

Our amazing girl was diagnosed on 11/1/13 with Osteosarcoma in her front leg/wrist. We decided to do the amputation surgery immediately because bone tumors are extremely painful and difficult to manage with pain meds, boniva etc. If they are limping, chances are the tumor has been there for 2+ years and has been bothering them. Only amputation is 100% effective with the pain (so said the plethora of docs we saw). Goldens don't complain, it's so hard to know they hurt! She was strong, healthy and a good candidate for the surgery. A few days before surgery, the doctor checked all her organs and found a mass in her spleen. We opted to take the spleen at the same time because waiting to do a second surgery was too risky for us and the aspiration wasn't giving us enough information (same cancer vs. a whole new cancer means different treatments, different growth rates etc etc).

Biopsy showed that the leg, armpit lymph node and spleen all had the same cancer. Lungs and everything else were clear. Mild anemia, but otherwise blood work looked fantastic at this point (Mid November).

12 days after surgery, we took her to UC Davis to see if she qualified for an Osteosarcoma study. She did not, due to the spread we had already seen. We started her on Carboplatin.

We continued with the Carboplatin until her most recent scans showed that there was some spread to her right kidney (12/30/13... which means it moved very fast). The oncologist suggested we switch to Palladia and was quite excited about this. A few things... Palladia works well in vascular organs, such as kidneys, to keep the cancer at bay. Statistically osteosarcoma starts in a leg and then goes to the lungs, which is harder to treat. But in this case, the cancer acting wacky might benefit us. When our general vet heard we had switched to Palladia, she was thrilled, too. Meg looks great, is energetic, eating, drinking and going outside normally. We are VERY optimistic. Palladia is VERY expensive ($35 PER DOSE times three times a week). BUT, I've heard nothing but wonderful stories about this drug. We're still in the early stages, so please pray for us, but again... very hopeful.

Yes, at the beginning we were given time in months. Low numbers. Heart breaking. BUT... because we were aggressive, took care of it immediately and this case is a tad "abnormal", we feel VERY lucky to be here today. (Knock on a lumber yard!)

A few things I learned on this journey:

Amputation: The dog can handle it more than you think! I would recommend seeing a specialist who knows his/her way around bones, nerves and this sort of magic. Our guy was fantastic. An oncology surgeon with lots of years of experience. He also took out the spleen and checked every inch of Meg's body. He found a piece of toy lodged in her stomach, too! So, we got a 3-fer! When I hear about surgeries not going as well, it's usually because a general vet with little experience performed it.

Supplies for amputation and moving forward. I would get/order these before you schedule surgery:

1. If you have any slippery flooring, buy those interlocking floor mats anywhere you'll need them. Not only do they offer traction, but they offer shock absorption, too. We also bought one large 15 foot gymnastics mat for in front of the couch.
2. Get a nail grinder or pedi-paw. You'll need to keep your dog's nails shorter now.
3. Make several ice packs using wet paper towels in bags or whatever you normally use.
4. Heat packs. You'll need this for the surgery site... very important. Also, great for sore muscles later on.
5. Ear thermometer. Take it with you to the vet and make sure it's calibrated to theirs. Any spike in temp is a sign something is awry.
6. A mobile vet. For $50 more, there are vets who will come to YOU. This was amazingly helpful on day 2 when my dog was off the major meds, hopping around but falling and pooping every time she tried to get up. The mobile vet assured me everything was okay, checked sutures, vitals etc... I can't recommend this enough!! She even does acupuncture, if you're into that sort of thing (we just started).
7. A harness. Of course I can't find the link to the one we bought right now, but they make harnesses for tripods that were a godsend the days after surgery.
8. T-shirts. Get 6 or be prepared to wash them. I wasn't as diligent as I should have been and I may have created an infection :( I tailored the shirts to fit her and put velcro down the back to help her get in and out easily. But wash them. In bleach.
9. Prepare to sleep downstairs. We took our dinky Ikea futon downstairs and stayed there for 2 weeks. Meg could navigate stairs (and went up the first time by herself when I turned my back thankyouverymuch) in about 2 weeks after surgery, which is amazing.
10. Cushions in the car. I have to lift Meg into our accord. Her one leg always drops down on the ground, in between the door and the seat, in some crevice somewhere etc. Then she gets stuck and whines. So we stuffed all the open spaces with pillows and foam mat things. In our mini van, I removed a chair and put in a dog bed and LOTS of pillows. It's like the I dream of Jeannie bottle in there.
11. If your dog gets a fentanyl pain patch, you are going to need rubber gloves, a will of steel, pliers and lots of olive oil to get it off. These things are SUPER dangerous. It could kill your dog if they eat it, so the patch is on there TIGHT. To get it off, I had to take 30 minutes of slowly peeling and pouring olive oil on the patch to break down the adhesive. Removing this thing isn't fun. Be ready.
12. Massage. Your dog's missing shoulder will twitch now and again. You may see him/her trying to use it. It's going to break your heart. The best thing to help the pain is lovingly rubbing that area and also the back legs, which are taking over the bulk of the work. Meg's back legs shake, give out and she has a tough time getting up now. Her muscles and joints are tired... make sure to give patience when they show fatigue.

Oh! And one thing I learned about Palladia... it could make their tummy upset. We did use the metronidozole, but if I give her a 1/2 c. cooked warm white rice with her meal (we do freshpet select), it helps ease the tummy trouble.

I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff. This is the first time I've talked about this. I hope I could help someone through it.

I'll keep everyone posted. I love this dog SO much. She's my child and I'll do anything for her :) Watching her make leaps and bounds with her movement every day, while wagging (!) is such a blessing. Maybe I'll post pics later.

Thanks for reading!
 

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Thanks so much for taking time to share what you have learned. I'm sure the information will be helpful to many other members and their dogs.

Here's a pointer to a thread with recommendations about all kinds of devices that help with injured and/or disabled dogs: http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...y-breed-standard/92648-assistive-devices.html. It includes wheelchairs for dogs, lifting harnesses, strollers, and a wealth of other products, some of which might be useful for you.

Please keep us posted about your girl's progress. We care.
 

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Hi,
Thank you for sharing your story.
I am faced with the same thing with my aspen. It is in her right back leg around her knee.
They want to take her leg but she has a bad left hip. They feel she would adapt but can't say for sure. I'm afraid I take her leg and the other one doesn't hold up she will be in trouble. How does UC Davis qualify you for resreach? Unforunalty everything comes down to money that I don't have. It's just her and I.
There was another post that he did not amputaint and using pamidronate. Sounds like his dog was doing ok at last post.
So confused I happy.
Very happy your baby is doing well.
Aspen's Mom Karen
 

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Cookie went through the amputation process and 3 rounds of chemo. It still kills me that I took her to three different vets and no one found the osteosarcoma until months later when the tumor was quite large. I noticed her limping early Feb and the cancer was only diagnosed until mid May. Just horrible to realize all that time was gone where the cancer was spreading like crazy! Cookie had her right hind leg amputated and she did very well as a tripod. She did have a hard time navigating hardwood stairs so traction is very important for sure. We found others ways to get her up and down the house/car. Your love for your dog will help support her through all her obstacles!
 

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Nutmeg

Nutmeg

So glad that you and Aspen have found us.
I am praying for you.
 

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Thank you for your informative post. I'm glad to hear that Nutmeg is doing so well. I'm sure you've been on the Tripawds site but if you haven't please go on. They are an amazing support group and just a wealth of information for Tripawds as well as cancer. good luck to you and Nutmeg keep us posted.
 

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Karen,

I'm SO sorry that you are going through this. It's not easy. Even with good hips, knees and joints, my girl is having trouble moving around and I can tell she has some pain. BUT, bone tumor pain might be a lot worse than having to put weight on Aspen's left hip. Also, there are many more prosthetic options for back legs than there are for front. Maybe you want to look into this?

Here is the link to the canine cancer studies at UC Davis:
UC Davis School of Vet Med: Comparative Cancer Center: Medical, Radiation, & Surgical Oncology

If anything, UC Davis might be a bit cheaper than an oncology specialist, so you might want to take a look. It doesn't hurt to call them. Also, my mobile vet was able to write prescriptions for the Palladia that I get online, cheaper than the oncologist, so that's another way to save money... buy your meds from an online pharmacy.

I'm so so sorry that money is an issue. We are lucky that I just inherited a bit of money, just a month prior and we would be maxing out credit cards or selling my car. I totally get it.

Good luck! Please let us know if you go to UC Davis.

We recently moved to the Bay Area after being in North Carolina for 5 years. We are going to be moving back to Raleigh in a few weeks... and the vet school there also has palladia and osteocarcoma studies ongoing. So, I guess I would say to all of you... check your local vet schools, you never know!

Best of luck to everyone and thank you SO MUCH for your love and prayers... it's very much appreciated!!!



Hi,
Thank you for sharing your story.
I am faced with the same thing with my aspen. It is in her right back leg around her knee.
They want to take her leg but she has a bad left hip. They feel she would adapt but can't say for sure. I'm afraid I take her leg and the other one doesn't hold up she will be in trouble. How does UC Davis qualify you for resreach? Unforunalty everything comes down to money that I don't have. It's just her and I.
There was another post that he did not amputaint and using pamidronate. Sounds like his dog was doing ok at last post.
So confused I happy.
Very happy your baby is doing well.
Aspen's Mom Karen
 

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It hurts my heart to say that we had to let her go last tuesday 2/25/14. She stopped eating on friday, her tummy had been upset and she couldn't hold down any of the pain meds. When we went to the vet, the xrays showed that a mass we had found in her lung on February 10th had almost doubled in size in 2 weeks. Her back legs were swollen and an aspiration found that one of them probably had bone cancer, too. She also had a large bump in her spine and I knew it was probably more cancer. It spread SO fast. She also coughed up a bit of blood and she was having breathing problems off and on.

She didn't complain, was still wagging, still her sweet self giving us those eyes filled with love.

We've never had to witness a pet leaving this earth and it was difficult... to say the least. I hope she knows that we did everything and we did it because we love her SO much.

I'll always second-guess what we did... the three types of chemo, the pain meds on an empty stomach and the multiple pain patches. But I do know, that last weekend she was with us, she was happy. She wasn't able to walk but we got her a wagon and wheeled her around everywhere and she loved it. I hope we gave her a good finale.
 

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Just seeing your post and reading about Meg. I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your beautiful girl. Sounds like she fought as hard as she could. Cancer sucks!!! Please don't regret anything you did for her. She is no longer in any pain and that is because you helped to give her that final gift. She will live in your heart forever!! RIP sweet Meg.
 

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Nutmeg

It hurts my heart to say that we had to let her go last tuesday 2/25/14. She stopped eating on friday, her tummy had been upset and she couldn't hold down any of the pain meds. When we went to the vet, the xrays showed that a mass we had found in her lung on February 10th had almost doubled in size in 2 weeks. Her back legs were swollen and an aspiration found that one of them probably had bone cancer, too. She also had a large bump in her spine and I knew it was probably more cancer. It spread SO fast. She also coughed up a bit of blood and she was having breathing problems off and on.

She didn't complain, was still wagging, still her sweet self giving us those eyes filled with love.

We've never had to witness a pet leaving this earth and it was difficult... to say the least. I hope she knows that we did everything and we did it because we love her SO much.

I'll always second-guess what we did... the three types of chemo, the pain meds on an empty stomach and the multiple pain patches. But I do know, that last weekend she was with us, she was happy. She wasn't able to walk but we got her a wagon and wheeled her around everywhere and she loved it. I hope we gave her a good finale.
I am so very sorry about Nutmeg, but I know she's in a good place, with my Smooch and Snobear, and you will see her, again. You did the right thing, the kindest thing for her, because you loved her! I put Nutmeg on the 2014 Rainbow Bridge list!!
http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...bow-bridge-list-grf-2014-a-5.html#post4257785
 

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I am so sorry that Meg lost her fight. I lost my Bonnie to oral osteocarcoma, it is a nasty and aggressive cancer. She had a wonderful life with you, run like the wind Meg! May you find peace...
 
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