Cancer is such an ugly word. Even working at an animal hospital doesn’t make you immune to hearing the word. Our pitbull, Isis, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in late October 2015. She had been limping off and on for a few weeks on her right front leg. Routine NSAIDs were given, radiographs were taken, and she improved only minimally. Within one week she had a complete amputation of her right front leg, shoulder and all. The cancer was in her shoulder.  Her diagnosis was confirmed by the pathologist and we started chemotherapy three weeks later.
For Osteosarcoma you start chemotherapy one day after the amputation OR three weeks after the amputation. It’s different for other types of cancer. We opted for the amputation immediately to help alleviate her pain. Plus she was a pretty cool looking “tripawd”. She was walking within 24 hours.
We made an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Upton who is the only board certified oncologist in Tulsa. Her cancer was “staged”, meaning radiographs were taken of her chest to see if the cancer had metastasized (spread) to her lungs. At that time it had not spread so we scheduled her first round of chemo for the following week. Most dogs really do well with chemotherapy. They don’t lose their hair and usually have only a few days of lethargy and/or decreased appetite. Unfortunately she didn’t handle the chemotherapy well and got pretty sick. Before we could go back for her second round of chemotherapy we found the cancer had spread to her lungs. The chemo protocol she was on would be useless. We had options to do a metronomic protocol (oral medications) or to keep her as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. We chose the latter. She had been through so much already and we were concerned with how she would handle the metronomic protocol.
After diagnosis four months is the typical life span if the cancer spread to the lungs so we were prepared to just let her enjoy it. She got to sleep in her humans’ bed, get on the couch and go to work with me every day. She also ate pretty much whatever she wanted. We met Lien during this time and boy, did Isis love those Rockstar treats and Chicken Pup Pie! Our goal was to keep her as pain-free as possible while maintaining her pre-cancer lifestyle. She ate really well until the very end, but when she could no longer get up on her own we knew it was time. Isis lived her life to the fullest on her three legs until we had to say goodbye to our sweetest girl in March 2016, just past the four month anniversary of her amputation. Nothing prepares you for the loss of your pet. We can only hope we gave her half the joy and love she gave to us.
By: Jana Layton; Karen Maricle with Riverbrook Animal Hospital, Tulsa Oklahoma

Love, The PetsWell Team

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