Category Archives: diagnosis

Should I Take My Dog The Vet Appointment?

mosey-ft collins 1.9.14

Honestly, this question never occurred to me. A vet appointment without the pet? But the following article from the Dog Cancer Blog poses some interesting thoughts? What if you just need advice? What if your dog is too sick to travel? Our oncologist is a three hour drive from home so Mosey is in the car for six hours on visit days. Do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience? Read below for the reasons your vet really needs to examine your pet in person. And, as always, thank you to the folks at Dog Cancer Blog for their very valuable information:

Don’t Forget Your Dog at the Veterinarian

When booking a new consultation with me, pet Guardians often ask if it is necessary to bring their dog to the appointment. From their point of view, they are often concerned about the stress of the visit on their pet, or maybe the travel itself.

But from my point of view, a consultation without the pet is like a visit to the pediatrician without your toddler. So, yes, you should bring your dog!

In some ways I am happy that someone wants to meet me and listen to the overview of their pet’s cancer and ask questions. Educating yourself about your pet’s cancer is important. But the visit is so much more than hearing about an overview of the how the cancer presents, behaves, treatment options, and prognosis. I also review your pet’s medical record; including previous history, previous tests and the cancer cytology or biopsy report.

But a critical part of the consult is my personal evaluation of your dog.

vet-with-dogFor example, if a mast cell tumor has already been removed, but the surgical margins are narrow or incomplete, I can only discover if a second surgery is possible with a physical exam. I need to see the previous scar on your dog. I may lift the scar, and see if we can remove more tissue.  I may even show the dog to our surgeon so see what she thinks and decide if surgery is even an option. If she says no, I just saved you the time and cost of a consult with the boarded surgeon.

Or, I may feel a small mass already coming back at a scar. If the tumor is back, it changes the recommendations. I only can determine that if I examine and feel the dog in person.

Measuring Is Key

I’ve also had cases where the biopsy report lists a soft tissue sarcoma (STS) as completely removed, but the vet notes the mass was 2 cm and the scar is 3 cm. Well, we need 2 to 3 centimeter margins AROUND the tumor … so a 2 cm STS should have an 8 cm scar. I will literally measure scars to make sure that they are actually as complete as reported on lab reports. If not, it’s unlikely the margins are clean and recurrence may be likely. And if that’s true, we need to know, so we can make the best plan.

I may also need follow up tests, like an ultrasound to monitor progression of an abdominal mass or to get a baseline.

Finding Other Tumors

Just last week, I saw a dog with a mass in the bladder, most likely a tumor called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), based on the ultrasound at the primary vet. Penelope had the classic signs of TCC – straining to urinate and blood in the urine. The vet said the mass was not in the trigone area, which is great, because then we could remove the tumor with surgery before starting chemo. (Many tumors are in the trigone where all the nerves and the urinary tubes that connect from the kidneys and out the urethra. This area is usually inoperable.)

From the ultrasound at the primary vet, it looked like Penelope was a surgery candidate.

To be safe, I recommended a repeat ultrasound. This time the boarded internist not only saw the mass in the non-trigone area but also a larger mass in the urethra, the tube through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside.

Unfortunately, that discovery meant surgery was definitely not an option. With this new info, I changed my recommendations and we discussed medical management like NSAIDs, chemotherapy, and even a stent to keep her peeing if she gets blocked.

So Penelope’s prognosis and treatment options all changed based on the exam and tests. If she hadn’t been physically present, we might have gone ahead with a surgery that would be unnecessary and not even treat the larger mass.

Finding Metastasis

I may also discover something new on the exam, like an enlarged lymph node. If we aspirate that lymph node and find the cancer has metastasized (spread), it may change the prognosis and recommended diagnostics and treatments. If a cancer has spread to the lymph node, we may need to have it removed, radiated, or it may be the reason we add chemo.

Finding Other Problems

Without the patient, we could also miss other problems, like a fever, an infection, a heart murmur, or a lameness so severe that it changes recommendations.

Just yesterday, I had an appointment with Lady, a 11-year-old Russian Blue Terrier. She came to discuss CyberKnife radiation for her recently discovered aggressive bone lesion in her humerus (shoulder), consistent with osteosarcoma.

CyberKnife is an alternative to amputation, and we typically start with a CT scan of the leg to make sure the bone is structurally strong enough to be a good candidate for it. If the tumor has already destroyed too much bone, it puts the dog at increased risk for fracture even if we kill the tumor cells with high doses of radiation.

But looking at Lady (not her X-rays), I saw that she could barely get up and walk. The family was lifting the 100 lb dog to get up and go outside to relieve herself.

I was worried that her limping and disability wasn’t just because of tumor pain. It could also be neuromuscular disease, orthopedic issues, or worse, bone metastasis. I wasn’t going to do a CT scan (very expensive) and recommend CyberKnife radiation if there was some other major underlying medical issue that prevented her from walking. We had to figure this out, first.

So, during that appointment, I consulted with my surgeon, who looked at Lady and isolated the severe pain to her knees and hips, not just the shoulder with the tumor. X-rays confirmed severe degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Unless that can be helped, removing the tumor with radiation would not help her to walk. Even amputation was out, because a dog with this severe pain wouldn’t be able to recover easily.

This information was really helpful, because now we knew a few things:

  1. We can add pain meds, specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to her treatment to help bring her some relief.
  2. Her underlying arthritis is too severe for an amputation.
  3. By treating her arthritis we can improve her comfort and mobility.

Once she is feeling better, THEN we can do a CT scan to see if she is a CyberKnife candidate. She may still be!

Bottom Line: Bring Your Dog

So … will I occasionally do a consult without the dog? Yes I do make exceptions, but it really limits what I can do for the pet and the family if the pet is not there to be evaluated.

Live longer, live well,

Dr. Sue

About the Author: Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Susan Ettinger, DVM. Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) is a veterinarian oncologist at Animal Specialty Center in New York and the co-author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. She blogs about dog cancer at http://DogCancerBlog.com.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

4.6.14

mosey and me

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Lymphoma

mosey marist college habitat build 3.20.14 instagram

Mosey at the Habitat for Humanity Taos College Spring Break build

One of the objectives of this blog is to help educate and inform pet parents fighting cancer in their furbabies. Sadly, Mosey’s cancer is very rare and he is not a candidate for surgery or radiation (except a palliative version). I reached out to the canine cancer community to see if anyone would be willing to share their stories of fighting more common forms of cancer. I was very happy to receive the following facebook post:

Hi Diane! I’m actually a veterinarian and run a FB page for my pup that is going through chemo for lymphoma. That way there is info from both the doc and mommy point of view. Erin Houser Kelly
I confirmed that she was giving me permission to share her story and am so pleased to say she agreed. Her dog, Wrigley, is in remission from lymphoma. Here is their story from both Erin’s and Wrigley’s point of view:

On Monday, October 14th Wrigley was diagnosed with lymphoma. This is his page– dedicated to him and what is important to him (hint: it includes food, his 4 legged sister and the 2 little girls that share his residence– as well as his adopted parents

A humans guide to canine chemo: My lymphoma journey, by Wrigley
wrigley

Wrigley!

Welcome to my site old and new friends… Whether you have met me in person or are just an animal lover in general, I have deemed myself an ambassador for canine chemo. Why? Because it’s something a lot of pet owners ask themselves about– “would I put my own pet through it”? I hope to take away some of the scary thoughts about the process. By no means am I an expert– I mean, I’m just a dog (although I am pretty smart) and I’m not going to load this down with a lot of medical jargon. This is just my side of the story and I hope to be able to help some pet-parents along the way.Lets face it– cancer is a scary word for anyone. And chemo conjures up visions of hair loss and violent sickness– which is all very common in human treatments. However, in the animal world chemo doesn’t have the same side effects. The goal is to keep me happy and comfortable and my mom keeps using the term “quality of life.”

The sad reality is that I was diagnosed with a terminal cancer (Stage IIIa, B-cell lymphoma) and without treatment my life expectancy would have been 4-6 weeks. There is a good chance I would be gone by now or nearing the end of my life if my parents chose not to go forward with chemotherapy. The day I was diagnosed I didn’t look or act sick, mom just noticed my lymph nodes were a little big. However, it’s a rapidly progressive disease that would have caused me to go downhill very quickly. And my family wasn’t ready to say good-bye just yet.

A few days later my mom had me seen by a veterinarian oncologist (Dr. Back actually graduated vet school with my mom back in 2007– but she went back to become a specialist– she’s obviously SUPER smart!). They started chemotherapy that day and a week later I was determined to already be in remission. The Dr is doing something called the “CHOP protocol”which is an acronym for the different types of meds they use to treat me. It’s a 6 month protocol and after that point I am just monitored for return. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of IF it comes back, it’s a matter of WHEN. However, with chemo my life expectancy went from 6 weeks to up to 12-18 months (maybe 2 depending on how well my body does). That’s a big difference– especially when you calculate that into “dog years.”

The biggest question people ask my mom is “how sick does the chemo make him?” And she can easily say that there have been very, very few side effects. The biggest problem I had was with a steroid that was used at the beginning of treatment that makes me drink a lot of water and so I have to urinate a lot too– so started having accidents in the house. Plus the steroid makes me very hungry so I’m not above breaking into cabinets, purses and the trash can to steal food. The good news is that the steroid dose has tapered and I’m done with it next week– and I’m no longer having accidents in the house. Overall, no one can tell I’m sick… The chemo hasn’t made me throw up and I still have all my hair– I will have about a 6 hour window once a week where I’m sleepy but that’s the extent of the effects so far. Overall, my quality of life is amazing– I’m still romping around the house with my sister, love to take walks and lay on my back in the grass under the sun.

If this blog can help someone else along the way then I think I’ve done a good job. Lymphoma is a tough diagnosis (and my mom cried for 2 days straight when she found out)– but chemotherapy is giving me a chance to spend an extra year (hopefully more) with my family.

If you feel this note has helped you, or may be beneficial to friends/family that may have a pet in this position, please feel free to share this note or my page. And I’m always open to questions. Both my parents work full time so I have plenty of time to blog during the day while they are gone 😉

Yours in Remission,

Wrigley

I so appreciate hearing this success story…remission is something we all hope and pray for. If your pet has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and you have specific questions for Erin or Wrigley please ask them in the comments section of this post. I will continue to provide updates as to Wrigley’s prognosis.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.29.14

mosey and me

A Vet Shares 10 Warning Signs for Cancer in Your Dog

SHARE this, it might save a life!
Read more at http://theilovedogssite.com/do-you-know-the-warning-signs-for-cancer-a-vet-gives-you-10/#lsF6XQLx6cgViDlS.99

Everyone knows that the quicker you find and diagnose cancer, the better chance you have at fighting if off and prolonging your dog’s life. While annual check-ups at the vet are important for bringing your attention to something you may not have been aware of, a year in the fight against cancer is just too long.

Be proactive and look for signs that your dog, regardless of age, may have cancer. Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America and Humane Society of Missouri has 10 warning signs that dog owners should know and watch for.

Canines are susceptible to the same types of cancers as humans, but they can metastasize at a much faster rate. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

1. Unusual odors. While “dog breath” is common, if you notice unusually foul odors coming from the mouth, nose or rectal area, it may be due to a tumor.

2. Bumps or lumps on or under the skin. Get into the habit of checking your pet’s skin monthly. Don’t forget to check behind ears and around the face. Even if you find a very tiny lump or bump, cancer can grow very quickly. Any new lumps or bumps should not be ignored. If the bumps are bleeding or there is discharge, see a veterinarian immediately.

3. Weight loss. Unless you’ve put your pet on a diet, their weight should remain consistent. Sudden weight loss is a cause for concern.

4. Appetite changes. If your dog has lost interest in meal times, illness is likely the cause. Many health conditions cause appetite loss. Cancer is a very serious one.

5. Lethargy. Learn to tell the difference between a lazy dog and a lethargic one. You should know your dog’s personality fairly well. If he doesn’t seem himself and is spending more and more time sleeping, talk to your veterinarian.

6. Respiratory problems. Dogs can get lung cancer, and some indicators could be coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath after very little exercise.

 

Healthy gums are bright pink, and when you press your finger into, the color comes back quickly

Healthy gums are bright pink, and when you press your finger into, the color comes back quickly

7. Behavior changes. Has your dog been snapping more than usual? Are they spending more time away from you? They could be in pain. Also pay attention to how they are walking, eating and playing. If you notice any limping or struggling – it’s time to see the vet.

8. Open sores. If your dog has an open sore or other wounds that aren’t healing properly, it could be because of a larger medical issue.

9. Vomiting and diarrhea. If you notice that your dog is vomiting frequently, and/or has diarrhea, you should see your veterinarian. Especially if it’s accompanied by any other of these symptoms. Also check your dog’s abdomen for bloating and distension.

10. Pale gums. Know what a healthy dog’s mouth looks like so you can tell when your canine’s isn’t. Very pale gums could mean blood loss – cancer is one of many illnesses associated with this symptom.

SHARE this, it might save a life!

Read more at http://theilovedogssite.com/do-you-know-the-warning-signs-for-cancer-a-vet-gives-you-10/#lsF6XQLx6cgViDlS.99

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.9.14

mosey and me

The Flint Animal Cancer Center

Many of you know Mosey and I went to the Flint Animal Cancer Center for radiation therapy. He was not a candidate for Stereotactic radiosurgery so we opted for a palliative version. (read more here) but the kindness, professionalism and talent of the team there will never be forgotten. I saw this article today and felt it was worth sharing:

1/29/14

by Coleman Cornelius

A family of devoted dog-lovers concerned about cancer has continued a legacy of commitment by pledging $10 million to the Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center, where the momentous gift will nearly double operational funds in support of renowned work to conquer cancer in both animals and people.

Nan and Brett Stuart, Carnation Milk Co. heirs who live in Longmont, Colo., have donated $10 million to the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, the worlds largest center focused on treatment and research of cancer in pet animals. They are shown with a bronze sculpture of their father, Hadley Stuart, and center founder Dr. Steve Withrow.

The gift comes from the Hadley and Marion Stuart Foundation, led by siblings Nan and Brett Stuart of Longmont, Colo., and is the single largest contribution in the history of CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center. The donation also will complete the funding of two endowed academic chairs.

With their $10 million donation to the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, Nan and Brett Stuart continue the legacy of their father, Hadley Stuart, who is depicted in a sculpture at the center.With their $10 million donation to the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, Nan and Brett Stuart continue the legacy of their father, Hadley Stuart, who is depicted in a sculpture at the center.

Since 1983, when E. Hadley Stuart first brought one of his golden retrievers to CSU for cancer care, the Stuart family has provided a total of about $22 million for the Animal Cancer Center’s research and clinical treatment of naturally occurring canine cancers. The center has grown to house the world’s largest group of scientists studying cancer in pets, and much of its work suggests new approaches in human cancer treatment.

“This new gift reflects Hadley Stuart’s legacy and the close 30-year relationship we have so greatly appreciated between the Stuart family and the CSU veterinary cancer program,” said Dr. Rodney Page, a medical oncologist and director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center. “This gift will truly sustain our work, and we cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to the Stuart family.”

Dr. Stephen Withrow, an acclaimed surgical oncologist and center founder, often calls the CSU Animal Cancer Center the “House that Hadley Built,” a nod to the seminal support provided by the late Hadley Stuart and his family foundation. Withrow, a University Distinguished Professor, is transitioning to retirement.

The Hadley and Marion Stuart Foundation was established by heirs to the founder of Carnation Milk Products Co., a family dairy turned industry-leading food company best-known for its condensed milk.  The company’s concern about animal well-being was embodied in the promise of “milk from contented cows.” Nestle S.A. acquired Carnation Co. in 1985.

Nan Stuart supports the Cancer Center's 'translational' work, which sheds light on cancer in pets and people.Nan Stuart supports the Cancer Center’s ‘translational’ work, which sheds light on cancer in pets and people.

For Hadley Stuart’s descendants, concern about animal well-being has largely focused on supporting cancer treatment in dogs and the scientific quest for a cancer cure. Cancer is a leading cause of death in both dogs and people, with many similarities between species.

“This level of support sets the cancer center on a sustainable path as a leading innovator in translational cancer research and patient care,” Page said, referring to discoveries in animal cancer that translate to human medicine. “It creates possibilities for pursuing exciting opportunities in cancer care and cancer research in perpetuity.”

The $10 million gift also will add to endowments for the Stephen J. Withrow Presidential Chair in Oncology, which is held by Page, and the Stuart Chair in Oncology, which is held by Withrow. Academic chairs are mechanisms for funding the research laboratories and emerging discovery efforts of eminent faculty members.

During a recent visit to CSU, benefactor Nan Stuart said she and her brother were motivated to donate $10 million to continue their father’s interest in veterinary training, cancer treatment and leading-edge research at the Flint Animal Cancer Center.

Her own interest is personal: One of her beloved golden retrievers, Keester, suffers from brachial neurofibrosarcoma, a malignant nerve sheath tumor off the spinal cord. A CSU team, known to Stuart as “Team Keester,” developed a new radiation protocol and rehabilitation plan that reduces pain for the 8-year-old dog.

This treatment has been essential because Keester and Stuart’s other golden retrievers are active, award-winning service dogs that are highly trained to perform emergency rescues from swift water and ice. Stuart’s dogs have helped to train thousands of emergency responders through Code 3 Associates of Longmont, a nonprofit Stuart founded to provide professional animal disaster response and training.

Dr. Steve Withrow, retiring founder, calls the Cancer Center the 'House that Hadley Built.'

If Keester were completely sedentary, her quality of life would plummet, Stuart said. The Stuart family – whose golden retrievers “are as important to us as food and water” – has had three other dogs treated at the Flint Animal Cancer Center for hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive tumor of the blood vessels, Nan Stuart said. It has provided the family an inside look at the center’s work.

“Our cancer team is the most fantastic group of people imaginable. It’s phenomenal,” Stuart said.

Like her father before her, Stuart said, she wholeheartedly believes in the CSU center’s mission to treat cancer in pets while also pursuing scientific discoveries that hold promise for curing cancer in all species.

For instance, Withrow developed a limb-sparing surgical technique to treat osteosarcoma, a malignant tumor of long bones in dogs. This technique revolutionized osteosarcoma treatment in dogs and has been widely adopted at human cancer centers, significantly increasing the likelihood that children diagnosed with osteosarcoma will be cured. The work demonstrates how canine cancer research has a far-reaching influence on human medicine.

“The best cancer work,” Stuart said, “is right here.”

About the Flint Animal Cancer Center

  • Opened in 2002, the center houses the world’s largest group of scientists studying cancer in pets, with more than 100 faculty clinicians, staff members and veterinary students.
  • The center books about 6,000 appointments per year and provides an additional 3,000 consultations by phone and email.
  • It has trained more surgical, medical and radiation oncologists than any other veterinary institution.
  • Demonstrating the relevancy of its work to human cancer, the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center has attracted funding from the National Cancer Institute for more than 30 consecutive years. The center collaborates with the NCI and University of Colorado Cancer Center, among others.

For more information, click here.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

2.4.14

Chase Away Canine Cancer!

MoseyLove!

Diane & Mose

January 19, 2014

mosey and me

January 13th, 2014

Image

Mosey and the Ft Collins Oncology staff

Hi everyone,

This is a post I was dreading. We found out last week that the radiation therapy suggested to us is not an option and only a palliative version is recommended. A bit of background:
My 10 1/2 yr old golden retriever Mose started panting heavily at night the week of Thanksgiving 2013. It only lasted a few minutes. I would get up, pet him and he would settle down and go back to sleep. After a few nights I decided to take him to the vet. Everything else was completely normal so I was expecting them to tell me it was allergies or something like that. You are all in this group, so you know the heartbreaking, pit in your stomach feeling it was to hear he had a large mass surrounding his heart. We live in a small town in New Mexico so our vet recommended a specialist in Albuquerque.
Because the mass surrounded his heart we first saw a cardiologist who pronounced Mosey’s heart very strong for his age and determined the mass had not spread into the heart…the only good news we have received. We then met with an oncologist who, after x-rays, an ultrasound and a CT scan, determined the mass was cancerous…either an ectopic thyroid carcinoma or chemodectoma. The tumor wraps 360 degrees around the aorta and is compressing the esophagus. There were also 2-3 lung nodules which means there is some metastatic disease. Mosey was put on Palladia to help slow the growth of these tumors.
The specialists in Albuquerque recommended we try radiation therapy at Colorado State University at Ft Collins at the Flint Animal Cancer Center and they forwarded all his records to them. One of the radiation surgeons called me a week later to say he thought Mose was a good candidate for Stereotactic radiosurgery -the Cyberknife, called because the procedure is as precise as a surgical scalpel. He told me to expect 3 treatments, paced a day apart, to ensure we did not damage any of the major organs the tumor surrounds. The procedure would not be inexpensive, but thank God we have insurance, and that hopefully the radiation would shrink the mass and or stop it from growing further. So. with great hope, Mosey and I made the 6 hour drive from Taos to Ft Collins last Monday to begin treatment on Tuesday January 7th 2014.
 
The Ft Collins staff repeated all of the same tests as were done in Albuquerque less than a month ago. My heart is breaking as I tell you that the results were not good. The mass is bigger than they thought and wraps too tightly around the organs to give him the dose required to do much good. So, our only option is a “palliative” radiation option…one dose designed to help him breathe better and have better quality of his remaining life…which they think is only a month or two. He had the procedure last Thursday.
 
They recommend he stay on the Palladia.
 
I had such high hopes and was so optimistic on the drive up…now I am falling apart. I have him on an anti-cancer diet…a holistic vet has prescribed Chinese herbs to help him battle the disease and I am looking for any/all suggestions as to keep him around as long as I can while ensuring his quality of life remains good. And I should tell you that, other than the panting, his energy level and appetite were quite strong until today. He has been very listless, tired and, while he has eaten both his meals, it took him a long time to finish…normally he gobbles up every bite  in a short time. They told me he would have good days and bad…today is his first “bad” day.
He is my same loving goofball that he always has been. I am not ready to lose my boy. Any thoughts or recommendations would be so appreciated. What else can I try?
Thank you all so very much.
 
My best,
Diane and Mose

Diagnosis

Mosey at 3 1/2 months

Mosey at 3 1/2 months

Mosey is a happy, goofy, beautiful golden retriever with a voracious appetite, very treat motivated, and a total love bug. His energy level is excellent for a 10 1/2 year old so nothing prepared me for the cancer diagnosis. Here is our story:

Mose has slept for years on a big, puffy, pillow type bed. One night, a few days before Thanksgiving, he woke up and started breathing very heavily…almost panting. He moved off his bed and onto the floor. I got up, sat beside him and started petting him to relax him. He stopped the panting after a few minutes, went to sleep and was fine the rest of the night. This happened a few nights in a row. I thought it was odd, but I didn’t panic as he was fine the rest of the time. A few days later I noticed he was breathing a bit harder than usual during the day…not after any activity, just as he was lying around the house.  Again, this was so slight that it didn’t raise any concerns but, after a week of the 5 minutes of heavy panting at night business, I decided to take him to our vet. I honestly expected them to tell me he had allergies or something similar.

Our local vet checked him out and asked if she could take some x-rays. The first shock was when she told me he had a mass surrounding his heart and that there was nothing they could do here in Taos. She referred me to specialists in Albuquerque and told me “Keep him very calm, don’t go on any walks or any other activity and call me on my cell in an emergency…like if he collapses.” What? OK, so now the panicking started.

This was on a Thursday afternoon and our appointment with the specialist was not until the following Tuesday morning. My husband and I spent a very long, tense and sad few days, lots of crying and frustration with the wait. It didn’t help matters that we had a big snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures forecasted the day of the appointment. Taos is 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Albuquerque and we had an early morning appointment so Mose and I left Monday mid-day to beat the weather. Let me tell you…sitting in the hotel room waiting for the next day was one of the longest nights of my life.

We first met with a cardiologist who, after an ultrasound, told us that the mass had not gone into his heart and that, for his age, his heart was very strong. Some good news! Then she referred us to the oncologist who had us do an abdominal ultrasound which revealed no major abnormalities. They aspirated some of the mass for analysis which showed degenerating cells…probably cancerous. The oncologist created a report for me which states:

“Mose has been diagnosed with an intrathoracic mass that extends to the heart base (also called heart based mass).  There are generally four common differentials for a tumor in this location.  They are lymphoma, thymoma, ectopic thyroid carcinoma and chemodectoma.  The aspirate results have ruled out lymphoma. These other three potential cancers are all epithelial which is what the pathologist thought the cancerous cells were most consistent with.  Thymoma is a cancer of the thymus, an organ involved in development of white blood cells in embryos and babies.  When cancerous, it is most often treated surgically although it is also responsive to radiation therapy.  Ectopic thyroid carcinoma is when a remnant of thyroid in the chest becomes cancerous.  These tumors are best treated with surgery although many are non-surgical.  If non-surgical, they can be treated with either radiation therapy (if site is appropriate) or chemotherapy.  Chemodectoma is a cancer of the cells at the base of the heart involved in sensing blood pressure and position. Chemodectomas are generally slow growing cancers and have not been particularly responsive to most therapies.  If possible, they are removed surgically but they are only rarely surgical.”

I met with the surgeon Wednesday evening to determine the next steps. First was to have a CT scan to get additional info.  We had the CT scan performed on Thursday morning. The results showed the cancer was inoperable. They ruled out 2 of the 4 potential cancers. The oncologist said, based on the CT scan findings, that she believes it is an ectopic thyroid carcinoma but it could also be chemodectoma. They also found 2 lung nodules which makes them think it is also a metastatic disease.

You can imagine my week of crying, bargaining with God, and researching everything in sight. Mose has always eaten healthily, but I am amping up his diet by starting an anti-cancer holistic program. He started taking an anti-cancer drug called Palladia last Friday. We are waiting to hear from  Colorado State University, Ft Collins to find out if he is a candidate for radiation therapy. If not, the oncologist recommends we watch what the Palladia does (or doesn’t do) and then discuss chemo.

The only good news is that, except for a little bit of panting once in a while, he is symptom free. Great appetite, energy appropriate for a 10 yr old, no pain…his normal goofy self. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. My friends and family have been amazing…listening to every detail and offering support and guidance…but, especially now during the holidays, I don’t want to continue to bum them out with my sadness.

These blog posts are designed to help me keep track of Mosey’s situation. It is such an overwhelming and confusing time. I want everything I learn, try and experience to be organized. I hope our story helps others on the same journey.

MoseyLove!

Welcome to MoseyLove

Mose

Mose is my beloved golden retriever.  In December of 2013, at age 10 1/2,  he was diagnosed with cancer. I decided to do everything I could to fight this disease as I am not ready to say goodbye to my best friend. I was overwhelmed with all of the medical opinions, options and advice I received. Traditional medicine? Holistic? Surgery? Radiation? Chemotherapy? Diet?

I started this site as a way to record my experience, keep track of what I learn and organize all the data I discover. Perhaps my journey can be of help to other pet parents faced with a cancer diagnosis of their own loved furry child. Please visit the Blog page to stay updated on Mose’s treatments and prognosis and share your own stories. I will continually update the Resources page with available options in Northern New Mexico and Colorado. The “How you can help” page will list local non-profits supporting pet cancer research as well as those who provide help to low-income pet owners battling pet cancer.  Please feel free to use the Contact page with your comments, suggestions and questions.

My goal is to keep Mosey alive as long as possible while ensuring quality of life is always the number one goal. So far he does not exhibit any symptoms and is the gorgeous, treat motivated, goofball he has always been. Great appetite, lots of energy for a 10-year-old and not in any pain. He is going to stay that way if I have anything to do with it because I love my dog.

MoseyLove!

December 2013

mosey and me

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