Everything seems okay until it isn't // Canine Osteosarcoma
You never imagine it will happen to you or your family until they say the words.
Donnie has been limping for 3 months — multiple vets said her x-rays looked fine both times we had them taken, so it was probably a soft tissue injury — maybe involving her rotator cuff. We kept medicating to treat her pain, limiting her activity, alternating ice and heat…but she kept getting worse. After she started to drag her paw and to lean on her wrist and the top side of her paw, our veterinarian sounded concerned and suggested that we bring her back in the next day. All three vets examined her separately and found the same painful area (still near her shoulder), so they proceeded with more x-rays of that area, but also of her chest. The x-rays were evaluated by a radiologist, extensively trained in reading imaging.
“It’s not good news,” our vet said to me over the phone. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears because I knew right away. It had to be bone cancer. It was the one scary thing we had been worried about. We thought there was probably no way it was actually that, yet the problem lingered. Sure enough, that’s what it is. Probably osteosarcoma, though we can’t know for certain without a biopsy.
As I write this, it’s been four days since that phone call on October 2nd. I’m not crying as much as I was the first few days, but I still feel like I’m on the verge of tears pretty easily. Hearing that your dog has bone cancer is very difficult. Hearing that she has osteosarcoma, which has a very poor prognosis and is probably the most painful condition she could have ever developed? It’s completely devastating. We are forced to consider whether we will amputate her front leg now — which won’t even stop the cancer from spreading to her lungs, but it will stop the pain which will keep her quality of life better for longer. To further complicate issues, Donnie turns 14 on October 9th and considering amputation at 14 years old is overwhelming and scary.
Some people say I should be happy that she’s old. I mean…of course I am. I am thankful this didn’t happen to her when she was young. But I’m still so angry that this is happening to her now. I’m completely heartbroken that my 14 year old dog is probably going to have to go through amputation so she isn’t in horrific pain constantly and I’m in distress over not knowing whether she will even survive long enough for such a big surgery and recovery to be worthwhile for her. I am mad that she’s being robbed of her final years.
There’s not a lot I can share about her specific situation yet as she has upcoming appointments before we make decisions. I just needed to share what’s happening in our corner of the world. We took the dogs in the car today and headed to a community park a mile away from our home so they could see some new things and sniff some new smells. Donnie hitched a ride in the wagon and up in my arms for some of the time, but couldn’t resist the new smells and hopped around even faster than Dylan most of the time. I’d like to think that she’ll do just as well on 3 legs for the months she has left, but how do you ever know it’s the right decision? And how do you move through the grief when you haven’t yet lost them, but you know it is inevitable?