I have been quiet on the blogging front lately because there has been a lot going on and there aren’t enough hours in the day. On March 7th, I came home from work and something didn’t feel right with our dog Zoey. She is a 100lb mix who is 6 years old. We adopted her last year after her previous owners couldn’t care for her anymore. She has part Chow and Rottweiler in here that we know of. She had been limping for about a month to six weeks however nothing was swollen and she wouldn’t cry or whimper when we touched her paw and leg. We checked every day and nothing seemed abnormal. We assumed she had sprained something and it would get better with time. But it didn’t.
When I came home and I saw her, my mommy instinct told me something wasn’t right. It was late afternoon and I called our vet to see if they could see her. We brought her in and they did some X-rays. My sirens went off when the vet wouldn’t tell us what he saw. He said he sent them stat to a radiologist and we should know the next morning. We were instructed to bring her back the next day after work. Nothing else was said. At work the next day, I received the phone call from the vet that she has osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her front left wrist. We brought her in for blood work to check kidney and liver functions before they prescribed pain medications. All of her blood work came back normal and we left the vet with pain meds, a copy of her X-rays and a referral to a pet oncologist.
On March 11, I was admitted into the hospital for kidney stones and kidney infection. My mom came to be with me so my husband could take Zoey to her appointment. I refused to reschedule it. From everything I have read, bone cancer is very aggressive and every day counts. The pet oncologist did some additional X-rays of her chest to see if the cancer had spread to her lungs. He also took a urine sample to check to make sure it wasn’t a fungal infection. It took about a week for all of her tests to come back and her lungs were clear and she did not have a fungal infection. Cancer it is.
Today, March 25th, a little over two weeks since we found out about her cancer, we had an appointment with a surgeon to discuss amputation of the leg. We expected to discuss our options and potentially schedule her for next week. Her pain has been increasing this week. She didn’t eat for two days and we had to adjust her pain medications. She pants and drools a lot which the vet says is nausea from the pain. She almost completely doesn’t put weight on her leg anymore and she has also been sleeping in different places. When we explained all of this to the surgeon, they only had one surgery scheduled today, so we decided to go ahead and amputate her leg today. As I type this, she is in surgery. We should get a call in a couple of hours and then we should be able to bring her home tomorrow.
Initially the idea of amputating her leg horrified me. I thought it was cruel. After a lot of Internet research, watching YouTube videos of Tripawds, many tears and a lot of soul searching, we came to the conclusion to amputate her leg. We know this is NOT a cure. Unfortunately there is no cure for osteosarcoma. Once it has progressed to be diagnosed, it has metastasized. While her X-rays didn’t show any mets at the moment, they are there and just microscopic. We chose to amputate her leg to improve her quality of life. She will no longer be in excruciating pain. The recovery is actually quite quick. The next few days will be difficult as we will have to help her learn to walk with three legs and regain her balance, but we know she will be in far less pain. Typically dogs are back to their normal selves within 14 days and are far more active then they were because they no long have the pain of the cancer.
After amputation we have to make the decision if we want to give her chemo. Since she doesn’t have any mets, chemo will give her a few extra months. Even with amputation and chemo only 50% make it one year past their initial diagnosis. We don’t know how she will react to the chemo and want to make sure we give her the best quality of life possible. Additionally, since I am pregnant we will have to be extremely careful with the chemo medications and my ability to be around her while she is doing a round. From the research I have been able to do, it is best for me not to touch her or be around her for 72 hours after chemo. In which case I would stay at my parents during that time so there is no harm to the baby. There is a lot to think about. We have about two weeks to decide.
If you are the praying kind, please send up a prayer for our sweet Zoey that she gets through surgery successfully and she adapts quickly to her new way of life.