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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to the board, mainly looking for other lab owners and their successes and struggles with cancer. I've also looked on a forum: bone cancer dogs.

One of my yellow labs was just diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in her jaw. It is pretty rare and I've only found two or three cases on other forums that are similar. We are going to get a second surgical consult this week, but should we go the standard route (surgery, radiation and/or chemo) we are looking at up to and over 15K in costs. Sierra is 12.5 years old, but no one would ever know it. The struggle is trying to find the balance of what we can afford and wanting to do everything we can to keep our sweet girl with us.

Sierra and her sister have been with us since they were both adopted from lab rescue at 2 years old. Plus we have a third dog that I have had since she was a puppy and is now 13 yrs old. Every minute I think of her not being around ends up with me being a wreck and then I think of all my dogs slowly going one at a time. I try everyday to enjoy as much time with them as possible and at this point have completely indulged them more than I even did before.

Has anyone else had to determine financially what they could do?
 

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Is your second consult with a veterinary medical university? They are quite often more reasonable in prices of services than other 'independent' veterinary specialists.

One question to ask is 'what is the average survival time for osteosarcoma of the jaw with just surgery as opposed to surgery and/or chemo.' At 12.5 , as important as financial considerations are, even more important is Sierra's quality of life. Perhaps surgery alone along with appropriate pain management would give her more 'quality time' as opposed to just 'time'.

I can empathize with you on these questions because my Auggie (f., 11y4mo) is currently living with hepatocellular carsinoma. After exploratory abdominal surgery we were informed that the survival rate was the same for all three protocols; so we have chosen to forgo the radiation and/or chemo with her since the 'mother' tumor and her spleen had already been removed.

Perhaps someone else will 'chime in' here with more thoughts or information.

My thoughts and good wishes are with you and Sierra.
 

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I have no advice for you, just wanted to add, good wishes. Sidney my 11 yr old was diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg a couple of months ago. The only thing to do for that is to amputate the leg but with her age and also in her other leg she has what they call football injury so that wouldnt be an option anyways. We have been giving her meds to keep her comfortable, she is doing really good with that. I know how you feel, when I think of her not being around it kills me. I dont know how my 1 yr old lab Ruger is gonna do when she isnt with us. Im just praying we have many goods days ahead. I will keep you in my prayers....
 

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I am so sorry.
My dog Kassa died 2 years ago from O.S. of the jaw. .

I live in N.Z. so vets don't as up to date things as they do in the U.S.A.

Can I come back to you again. I have been clearing out papers and found her vet bills and stuff so not thinking clearly. I am sorry to do this as I know how I wanted info there and then.

You can read her web site. It will save me rambling

Thanks Judy for the pm and I am sorry Auggie has cancer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My thoughts are with both Auggie and Sidney. I'm hoping we can make a better decision when we go for a surgical consult. I've actually heard that OS in the jaw is pretty slow growing and Sierra, other than the cancer, is in very good health. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be as much info about OS of the jaw as there is about OS in the limbs. There are two great stories on the Bone Cancer Dogs forum, like Kassa's Sierra is actually the most fit of the three dogs. She just keeps getting these blood blister like tumors and they are continuously seeping. Part of one actually fell off the other day in the Vet's office, but has grown again in just a couple short days.

Unfortunately, I believe the closest Vet Univ is in N. CA and we are in S. CA, so about 9 hours away. I may research more, I can't believe there is nothing in LA.

I read about Kassa and I have to say it's such a beautiful story for you to share. The webpage created has great information, thank you.

It's hard being the one who has to make the decisions, but I know that is part of caring and loving our girls.
I think it's even more difficult b/c they are all about the same age and in the past year I've really seen their age creep up on them. The one thing that makes me smile and warms my heart is when they run around the yard like puppies or come over and prop their heads on the couch and look at me w/ those big brown eyes. I never thought Sierra would be the first one in which these problems would start, she truly does look like she's still about 3 years old.

Thanks to you all for your kind words. The support means so much. It's hard to explain what is going on to friends. Unless you are bonded so closely with your pets so that they are no longer pets but family, you just don't get it. These girls truly are our children.

Here's a couple of pics of Sierra





 

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awww, Sierra is a cutie pie. I will keep her in my prayers. I know what you mean about being a part of your family. I have no children so Sidney and Ruger are my Children and only people that have dogs can understand that. This is the perfect place to talk, talk , talk.....so when you feel the need, just come back here and have at it.....Take care.
 

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Gee 2 years after and I still have those days when I wonder if I did the right thing. today being one.

Yes it is hard to make the decisions and live with the black cloud hanging over you.
There is no right or wrong decision.

AS to determining finacially what to do. I decided on one course of chemo for Kass. If it took the cancer away then I would revisit it, but didn't think so. I was prepared to pay almost anything.

Is it the top or bottom of her jaw?

Jasmine (there is a link in Kassa web page) was 12 when she was diagnosed with upper jaw cancer. She had a large part of the jaw removed and lived ( I think) 2 years or more after. She beat the cancer but unfortunately died from old age. Erin her owner would be more than happy to answer your questions. she lives in cheyenne Colorado. I will get her email for you.
The bone cancer forum is amazing. Anna and Cindy have the latest up to date information and a new web site.
 

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You are right there isn't a lot of information on jaw O.S. I have some more on my computer that may help. I have been meaning to update my web page and also the cancer forum, but Ernie takes up a lot of time.

Here is Jasmines story. Ernie may have her email address in there. http://mindbuilders.net/jasmine/

I will also email someone who I think lives in L.A. or C.A. and see if she is up to helping you.

Sorry I am rambling here and all over the place. Before i go to bed or tomorrow morning I will try and get as much info as I can for you and pm it to you.

Here is the bone cancer site I still belong to.ttp://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/bonecancerdogs

Bone cancers web site.http://bonecancerdogs.org/main/heroes
It is Jasmine and Kassa the dogs they talk about there, but you will find some usefull information on O.S. in general.
 

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I am sorry to hear of what you are going through. My Bubba had to have two surgeries on his jaw, ultimately loosing the bottom left side totally. He did not have OSC though, but a form of invasive Epulis. He is getting along quite well with only half a jaw and I am very happy with my decision.

OSC is a different beast though. Ultimately you have to look at quality of life. If you gain a year by doing all the treatments, but the dog is sick or in pain or asleep the entire time, then my thought is you have only done this for yourself and not to improve the life of your beloved companion. Keep in mind that I am not directing this at you, yourself, but owners of dogs with cancer in general. The final decision must be yours alone, because only you know how your dog can handle treatments and surgeries. I surely do not envy the choices you are being forced to make.

The Chris and Kassa website and posts here are a wealth of info on OSC, but as she said, she lives in New Zealand so they do things a bit different over there. Still, Kassa is the only case of OSC in the jaw that I am aware of.

Another great resource is the Orthodogs yahoo group. There are a LOT of people going through similar issues as the one you are and they are happy to help in any way they can. A lot of excellent info is available there and I suggest you join if you have the time available.

Best of luck with Sierra. We will all be here pulling for her as well as sending our prayers.
 

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I'm very sorry. This is a difficult time but you will make the correct decisions.

My old pal was diagnosed with cancer several years back - no OS, but hemangiosarcoma. Following surgery, we had to make a decisions regarding chemo.

We opted not to do the chemo and instead did lots of online research and went with a holistic diet and vitamins. This was new territory for us and we were skeptical. But I just couldn't load her 12-year-old body with chemicals, just to gain a few months with her. The holistic route worked well and we actually had another year with her - and it was a good year. She went on hikes in the mtns, ate well and enjoyed a wonderful summer until we had to say goodbye.

You have options...and ultimately you will make the best decision for your pal. I agree with the post saying that some people put their dogs through too much....I think perhaps paying more attention to their grief than to their pet's well-being. I'm not judging anyone, and I know it's horribly difficult to let go. I hope I'll keep the proper perspective when I have to make a decisions about my 'ole Bessie.

You are in my thoughts.
 

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Hello Cconoway,
Kassabella is a friend of mine here who alerted me to your post. I went through Osterocarcinoma of Jaw with my beautiful Jackie (12 year old Jack Russel). It was horrible. I was appalled that the regular vets don't know much about cancer and forward you to Cancer Doctors. I had a horrible experience with the Cancer Vet Hospital http://cityofangelsvets.com/images/uploaded/coa/about_us.cfm. I did not have any good come from this hospital. The Cancer doctor dawdled around and I could NEVER understand her. The Radiation doctor had a horrific bedside manner. The only doctor there that was worth anything was the Surgery doctor, you could tell she trully loved animals. She first removed the large tumor. But let me take you back to the beginning. In October of 2005 I noticed a small lump in Jackie's jack as if she had a small marble stuck under her gums. So after awhile I took her to her regular vet. He said they should do a needle aspiration on it. So I said okay. When I went to pick her up that small lump turned into a HUGE lump just from the extract. They said they needed to do a biopsy and that just made that lump grow huge and seeping blood. Then we were told to go to the specialist Hospital above, where the surgeon removed that horrible lump. However, the original plan that the Cancer doctor was to remove have of her jaw along with the tumor. I could not do it...so just the lump as much of it they could extract was removed. So then after a week we were supposed to start radiation. Well after one treatment her poor tattered face was swollen up. These morons could not tell me why...they scrambled for excuses. I had to take her in and she was placed on a drip and I laid next to my babie all day at the vet's office while that was slowly subsiding.... I said no more of this hell. The tumor grow back with a vengence within a few weeks and even grew over the eye on that side. It came to a point that it grew so large one day that it ruptured on the inside of her mouth and I all I could do was to take her in to the doc...you know the rest..I won't go there.
So I cry every day still for my babie Jackie. I spent about 5 to 6 thousand for just the described events above. I think they are total thieves of pain. I was disgusted how these vets could be.
http://files.dogster.com/pix/dogs/87/288487/288487_1143508105.jpg

I don't know if you can tell here, but this was after her surgery you can see the right side is where the surgery was to remove the tumor
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Alyx,

Thank you for sharing your story. In some ways it sounds similar to Sierra's. The lumps on her gums are so aggressive and as we go through testing to proceed to surgery many have fallen off and there has been quite a bit of bleeding. I'm starting to second guess our decision here which was to proceed w/ the surgery and hope for clean margins. We are not comfortable going through chemo and radiation as I think this will be even harder for her. The last few days she has been extremely lethargic and pretty much lays on her bed all day, which may not be odd for an elderly dog, but she has always been full of energy, always ready to go outside w/the othe dogs. Now she just lays on her bed. At least she still has an appetite which is amazing considering the tumor growing above her top front teeth. She just doesn't have that sparkle right now. She looks at me with her big brown eyes and hardly even wags her tail anymore. It is breaking my heart. I truly felt that our initial decision was for her b/c she is so very healthy otherwise. Now I'm wondering. I lay next to her bed each evening and rub her head and ask her to tell me if she is in pain or if she wants to go on. I just don't know anymore. I've always believed that it is our responsibility to give our pets the best life possible, so now I have the hard decision again to try to figure out if we are doing this to give her a chance of spending more time with us b/c she wants to be here and is not in pain, are we doing this so we don't have to make the hard decision and don't want the guilt. Ahh.. well no one said loving was easy.
 

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Re: New Member - Senior Lab with Cancer - Update

Everyone's kind words mean a lot. Yesterday during an ultrasound a large tumor was found on Sierra's bladder, so back to a biopsy we go. After having a small breakdown yesterday, I'm just going a day at a time to determine the next best step.
 

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Monica, Alyx
Thank you for sharing. I know this has been the first time you have shared so much of your painful ordeal. It must have been very painful.

cconaway. Prayers and good thoughts coming.

good thoughts to you both.
 

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Aww so sorry to hear about your pup. No one can make the decision for you, but if it helps, I don't think anyone would fault you for deciding that 15K is too much financial burden so late in life. If it were me, I would just be thinking about quality of life. Good luck. Rion
 

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Re: New Member - Senior Lab with Cancer - Update

Everyone has had such kind words both here and on the bone cancer site. Well, we heard back regarding Sierra's bladder tumor and it is malignant and growing very fast. We met w/ both the vet and the surgeon and at this point we are not going to proceed w/ any major surgeries as she has cancer in her jaw and now her bladder. This has been very difficult for us, but we do not want to put Sierra through all of this and not even know what her quality of life will be or even if she will make it through both surgeries. Actually the surgeon did not even mention trying to do surgeries anymore b/c of the double whammy. What was hardest to hear is that most likely, Sierra will not show to many signs of the cancer getting her down, we were told she will continue to be happy to go on walks and excited for her snacks etc. What most likely will happen is that her quality of life will degenerate as the tumors grow in her mouth making it harder and harder to eat, while the tumor on her bladder, will begin to cause difficulty with urination. We have decided to enjoy every moment with her as long as her quality of life is good. We will handle the next step when it comes.
 

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Just seeing this now. I'm so very sorry to hear about your baby. :'(

Just take it one day at a time now.
 

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Wow, reading these posts brought back some very painful memories. Callie developed a tumor on her chest. It was removed and proven cancerous (forget the medical term), but we were told "the margins" were clean and that she had no more cancer. That surgery cost $1850. She bounced back rather quickly from that, and we feel the money was well-spent. About 8 months later, she woke up at 4am, panting heavily, couldn't walk. We had to carry her to the car and get her to the vet. I kept asking if the cancer could have spread, and if a test was available to check, without surgery. The vet took some xrays and told us they were inconclusive but that her liver looked enlarged. He couldn't say why it was enlarged, and that surgery would be needed to check it out. Estimate for surgery was $1400. We said ok. Phone call came 6 hours later that we should get there right away and that we needed to make a decision: let her go or put her through chemo/radiation. The cancer had spread to her liver, spleen and stomach. We decided to let her go, and stayed with her until her last breath. We also decided to have her privately cremated, which the vet would handle. A few days later the bill comes......$2200. I asked for the breakdown, and turns out the charged for 3 catheterizations, and lots of other duplicates. I was still very emotional, so my husband went to get her remains. They refused to turn her over to him until the bill was paid. Callie was held hostage!!!!! We paid, brought her home, and I let them know that I would never be back there. Anyway, to get back to the original issue, even though I was raped by the vet, I feel good about knowing what was going on with her. Had I not had the surgery, I probably would still be wondering if she'd still be with me. Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answers here, just what your heart tell you, even if your pocketbook influences the decision. Good luck................
 
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