Posts Tagged ‘osteosarcoma’
It’s been five months and 19 days since Ferdinand’s amputation and the boy is still rocking on. He finished up the chemo treatments like a boss and got a clean bill of health from Dr. Mones at Alpine Hospital. He gave us a little scare with a cough but then Fiona the Fierce — Ferdi’s Chihuahua sister — came down with the same cough so it was decided that it was just allergies or a little bug.
He gets tired more quickly nowadays but that’s the only sign that he’s not at full capacity. Otherwise, he acts like a pup, playful, cuddly, raring to go at the slightest jingle of the keys.
He is somewhat of a local celebrity. I was in the bank with him (Elevations Credit Union is very cool about him coming in despite the sign on their door) and a guy rushed over to him, cooing his name and hugging him like they were long lost pals. He finally stood up from the love session and acknowledged the bewildered look on my face by explaining, “I’m one of his Apple store friends! I haven’t see you guys in a while…”
We spend every Sunday morning at Tod’s coffee shop in Gunbarrel, sitting on the tiny patio (the sidewalk) having breakfast, reading the paper, communing with the other regulars, planning out our Home Depot shopping list and generally enjoying what we refer to as ‘our Sunday church service.’ For us, it’s better than church because 1) we get coffee and 2) we have Ferdinand with us. He has weekly admirers who bring him treats and last week someone even brought their Great Dane puppy, Gus, to meet Ferdinand!
It’s funny, everyone who meets him says how much they’d love to have a big dog like him but the big ones just don’t live very long and they don’t want to put themselves through that loss. They tell stories of dogs with cancer whose people chose euthanasia over amputation because they couldn’t bear to go through all that and then lose them anyway. I get it, Ferdi is our fourth Great Dane, they do break your heart sooner than a little dog. And amputation was an incredibly difficult choice with no guarantees.
But I also get that every Dane has been worth the heartache whether we lost him at two years old or at three or at nine and a half. The surgery, as difficult as it was, has given us a little more time with this one. We can never know how much more time we have with him of course, the vet says it could be years, but even if the worst happened tomorrow, we know for sure that it will be worth the anguish to have five more months, 19 days and counting.
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!
My baby boy, Ferdinand the Great Dane, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma yesterday. Bone cancer. Terminal in almost all cases. We took him in to the vet because he was limping a bit. Not a lot, but a bit more than his usual “I pulled a muscle acting like a wing nut at the lake” limp. We were expecting to hear torn ligament, maybe arthritis since he is 7 1/2 and in Great Dane years that makes him eligible for AARP. Instead, 15 minutes later my whole world came crashing in. If he’s a candidate for amputation we might get lucky and have him around for 3 more months. If not, we’ve got a month left.
I should have known. He’s been trying to tell me for a long time now and I refused to hear it. For the last few weeks, sometimes when I would glance over at him sleeping I would suddenly feel the loss of him. LIke just for a second he was already gone. And I would think to myself, “Oh Holy Christ how am I going to survive him passing?” And then I would scold myself for thinking that way: “What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I being so morbid? Yes, he is 7 but he comes from a strong genetic line – he had relatives that lived to be 13. Obviously I’m just being melodramatic — he’s going to live to be 12 or even 14. After all, he is very small for a Great Dane, only 105 pounds, so he is exempt from all the size-related ailments our other Danes faced, right?”
No, he’s not our first Dane. Although right now I’m feeling like he may be our last. I don’t know if I can do this again. Sidney the Insane was first. He died of complications during his neutering when he was only 2. Then Norman the Never-Met-A-Stranger suffered a massive coronary while playing in the back yard shortly after his 3rd birthday. Harvey the Poet Prince lived to the ripe old age of 9 before a stroke claimed him. For a year during Harvey’s reign we had a brilliant girl Dane named Kelsie. We rescued her when she was 3 and she never quite got the swing of our family. We were blessed to find her a new home with a family that adored her and pampered her until she passed away at a respectable old age. And now there is Ferdinand. My heart that one is. I’ve loved all of them of course, to a degree that was well beyond balanced, but there has always been something special about this spotted little Mama’s boy.
So once again I think, “Oh Holy Christ, how will I survive this one?” This fucking cancerous murderer is extraordinarily painful to its victims. Which means some day very soon he is going to look at me with eyes that say, “it hurts too much, Mom. Make it stop.” And I will. I will end the pain. But part of me will end too. I know it’s completely selfish to be thinking this way – that the cancer is attacking me as much as him. But then, no one ever doubted the limits of my selfishness.