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Carol and I were on the way to pick up the new pup today when we got the call from our vet. Cappy's pathology came back. News was not good. The tumor over his right shoulder was between a grade 2 and grade 3 malignant one.

The recommendation is a 2nd surgery excising an additional 1" margin all the way around the existing void and taking it down as deep as possible, almost to the shoulder blade. Then they recommend radiation followed by chemo for six months or so. He is scheduled to go back on the 22nd for removal of the stitches from Monday's surgery. If we choose to go ahead, our vet can do the additional surgery then.

He's forwarding the pathological findings, together with his own surgery photos and comments, to an oncologist and oncology surgeon in Dallas for them to take a look at to give me a 2nd opinion. Our vet's opinion as of now is that Cappy will have between 6 months and a year if we DON'T do anything further, AND if the tumor persists and becomes more aggressive.

Keeping in mind that Cappy is eleven, he could have 18-30 months if the growth returns and it grows slowly. Without any guarantees, the prognosis WITH radical surgery and radiation/chemo would be in the vicinity of 36-48 months. We didn't even discuss costs. There is also a chance of some secondary debilitating effects on Cappy based upon how well he handles the radiation and chemo, and the surgery itself may leave him with varying degrees of lameness.

It's too fresh in our minds to reach any conclusions yet. The oncologists will merely confirm or slightly alter what we've already been told. I'm not seeking sympathy or even words of encouragement at this time. Looking more for some thoughtful input from the JL folks what they would do if they were in our position with their Lab.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Jim,

This has to be really tough on you, and I do not know that anyone can help you with this one. Absorb everything you possibly can from the Dr's. Then you have to weigh quality of life for Cappy and what you feel in your heart. Many of us may think we know how much you love that boy, but only you know for sure.

Maybe you can get some insight from others that have been through it. How hard was or wasn't the treatment on the dog, on the owner? What are the odds for a reasonable quality of life afterward and for how long? It is so hard to know the answers to any of these questions.
 

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I have to agree with Hersheys dad. Find out as much as you can before you procede one way or the other. If the treatment is going to be too debilitating, I don't know that I could put one of my old guys through it. You guys will be in my thoughts
 

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I agree with the other comments. Find out all you can and then you & Carol will have to make a tough decision. I would try to find out what will Cappy's quality of life with and/or without the treatment. All of you will be in my thoughts & prayers.
 

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Jim, I wish I knew better what to say. I'm sorry you, Carol, and Cappy have to go through this. It's not an easy thing no matter what you choose. I really do understand your conflict, especially given his age. I also understand wanting to do absolutely everything you can do (I say this with a lab wearing a pirate shirt and a big suture just behind his armpit sleeping off the aftereffects of tumor-removal surgery as I type).

One thing I can tell you is that I have a colleague with a 10-year old lab that was diagnosed with cancer (type 2 to 3 mast cell tumor) last year. They elected to go the radiation and chemo route after their doctor told them that they'd know very soon into the course if it was helping. If it did, they would continue. If it didn't they'd stop and do whatever palliative care could extend quality of life as best as possible for as long as they had. In their case the treatment helped, and yes, they saw the difference right away, early enough to make it clear where the decision-point was. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you start treatment and it's not helping, there's nothing that says you need to continue. Whereas if you don't start, well, you don't start.

Only you and Cappy will know where your comfort levels are. But choosing to pursue treatment doesn't mean you can't later choose to stop. Choosing not to pursue treatment doesn't make you any less a loving lab-dad.

Good thoughts for you whatever your choice is.
 

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Sounds like you were given all go suggestions above- I'd only like to express my good thoughts and prayers as you go thru this very difficult time.
 

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I think Tobystrix's advice is very good. Only you really will know what your boy can cope with. Good luck and ya'll will be in my thoughts and prayers!
 

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I have no experience with this, Jim, but wanted to say that I agree to see what his quality of life would be with or without the treatment. I also liked the suggestion of starting out with the treatment and just seeing how he responds, you can always stop, and you may be surprised and may see him respond well to it (which I'll pray for). I'd probably opt to go this way. Our Sheltie died of pancreatic cancer and if we had caught it ealier (she was 11) we would have tried some treatment, though when we found out what it was we put her down that day as her health had been going down hill very fast (vet had thought she had pancreatitus).
You, Carol, Cappy and Remi are in my thoughts and prayers! (...and Rusty now too?)
 

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JIm, I'm very sorry to hear this news. I don't know that I can offer any more advice than what's already been served up. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.
 

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Jim, I'm sorry to hear it wasn't better news. I don't know what to tell you. You've got to follow your heart and do what's best for Cappy, and I know you will.
 

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Looks like some good advice has already been given. I have no experience in this but just wanted to say you are both in my thoughts and prayers.
 

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So much good advice already, have to say I would probably debate Cappys quality of life with and without treatment. I Can only imagine the pain you and Carol are feeling right now. None of us doubt that you will do whats best for your boy!! I'm so very sorry- Di
 

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Aw, Jim, I'm so sorry to hear this. It happens all too common with our labs. It sucks.

I know you will do what think is best for Cappy.

This is just my opinion so take from it what you will... if it were my dog I would opt to do the 2nd surgery to see if we could get clean margins, but I would not do chemo or radiation. I would support my dog and keep my dog pain free, and when the time came I would carry my dog over the bridge. I know I am not typical... but I honestly could not afford to do much more than that and cost is a very important factor for me.

Having said that though, If my dog were young, I would explore the possibilities of chemo/radiation.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about this. I am sure that which ever decision you make will be the right one, because it will be made with Cappy's best interest in mind. I just want to send lots of good thoughts to you and Cappy.
 

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No advice. Don't have any idea what I would do if I were in your shoes. You know and love Cappy better than anyone else on the face of this earth. Y'all are soul mates. You'll do what's best for him. No doubt about that.

All the best thoughts for you and your dog.
 

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Well crap Jim. I'm sorry for Cappy and your family having to go through with this. Here's my advice:

Ask Cappy what he wants to do, take a walk with just Cappy and talk to him.

I made a point when we started this cancer battle with Rhys 2.5 years ago that I would do nothing to harm him, and when he was done fighting, I would be too. I get the feeling that Cappy is a lot like Rhys, tenacious, and just ever so stubborn and yet humble. I get the impression from years of 'e-knowing' you guys that he's a tough old dog, and that you would do anything for him.

I said initially no chemo, no radiation. So we went the surgical route, modified his diet, and he did exceptionally well. So we added a few things, chemo embolization, dissection, resection, and finally this year we went ahead with the chemo, a lot of cycles and a lot of people judged me for that, but I know he wants to live. All the while through everything, I'd talk to him, find out where he was mentally, and he had a few bad days, but there was never a time when his eyes said 'no more'...he had a blast today tobogganing with my nephews in our new 15" of snow. He's not physically in great shape, but mentally he's better than ever.

So here we stand, waiting and watching, and I hope the same for you and Cappy in 2.5 years, we're praying for you! Hard.
 

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I am so sorry Jim. You have had some great advice. I would see the oncologist and then weight up your options. You know Cappy best.

Here are some of the things I would be considering.
Prognsis.
All options. i.e. Surgery without chemo or radiation, chemo or radiation alone, or surgery alone.
Quality of life without surgery and with.
Cappys general health. I dont mean Cappys age as age isn't a disease. If over all health is good then surgery, chemo and radiation in any combination should be successful. All dogs are different and some cope better than others. If at any time you don't feel it is right you can stop.
Cost. Which I think is about $1000 for 6 months chemo. Maybe less. The time and vet visits, and worry having a sick dog.
There is no right or wrong decision, so never second guess yourself or doubt your decisison, even when others do.

If you are asking me what would I do. Oh gosh Jim even though I have been there before I don't know. Decisions I made when I heard the news are very different to the ones I finally made.
I think I would lean to surgery and chemo. If you do surgery you need to do chemo to get rid of dirty margins or cells. I would also not feed preservatives, and use anti oxidants such as fish oil and leafy greens. This diet is recommended by Dr Ruthan Chun the oncologist at WI.
Good thoughts coming.

I was going to put some links for you, but keep getting logged out as I am too slow so will pm them to you.
 
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