First, thanks to everyone who responded with advice and encouragement. This has been such a hard decision. Trying to weigh quantity of life vs. quality. After researching dozens of similar cases, we believe and hope and pray he can have BOTH. Without the surgery we would only be able to manage his pain for a few more weeks before it becomes excruciating. We’ve been told that the bone is basically exploding from the inside out in slow motion as the cancer eats away at it. When it finally becomes decimated, it shatters. At that point no amount of pain meds can help and he would have to be euthanized immediately. I just can’t let him be in that kind of pain in his last few weeks. As counter intuitive as it seems, the amputation and recovery are far less painful.
SO, our decision is that unless we get some contradictory information about his blood work this afternoon, we’ll proceed with the amputation Monday and follow up with chemo. Our research has told us that he will recover from the amputation and be his old self in about 10-14 days, maybe a few days longer because of his size. Other Dane owners whose dogs have had similar surgeries back this up. Even Gibson, the World’s Tallest Dog recuperated and adjusted very quickly to being a “tripawd.” Vets often say that dogs are born with “three legs and a spare” so it’s not much of a handicap to a dog. Nothing like the handicap of the pain he is in currently. His other legs, back and hips are all solid and he is not overweight so he should be just fine.
Initially we were concerned about his remaining time being unpleasant due to the chemo but we’ve been assured that chemo does not have the same horrible side effects on dogs that it does on humans. At worst, he may be nauseated for a day or so after each treatment but that can be managed with anti-nausea meds. His lungs are clear – no visible metastases yet. Statistically speaking, the cancer will almost certainly come back – in his lungs next time — but hopefully the chemo will delay that. With the amputation and chemo together his chances of living 1 year are 45-55%. I’ll take that.
Thanks for all your support. The whole Rubey family truly appreciates it! Check out the video of a giant harlequin Dane missing the same leg as Ferdinand – digging for gophers!