XIMMARON'S CANCER BATTLE
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This is the story of what we went through and how we beat the odds of a cancer bone tumor.
Photos - spring
The x-ray showed a bone tumor ( osteosarcoma ) in his left front leg. We were devastated. The vet said that it had to come off (his leg) ASAP and that if we did not remove his leg he would only live 1 - 2 months longer.
We scheduled surgery that week. The surgeon took not only his whole leg but his shoulder too. He (the surgeon) said this sometimes makes the dog more comfortable. For Ximmaron it didn't at all (more later).
After his surgery he stayed at the surgeon's vet practice for a few days. We decided to bring him home asap to make him comfortable rather than him be alone during many hours. Note: the surgeon biopsied the leg and found that it would have broken within a wekk or 2 if left without surgery! The tumor was THAT FAST.
He was bandaged throughout his front shoulder and lower area and was VERY sore. I had to pick him up to go back and forth outside to go pottie. It was very hard because he did was not able to stand by himself very well and was still learning. I stayed up with him throughout each night in the living room. He would only get a few hours sleep at a time due to restlessness and pain.
This finally got so bad that we ended up discussing this with our vet. He was not eating or drinking well either. One things that REALLY HELPED was using 'ace' (acetapromazine) tranquilizer so he could rest. It made a lot of difference. We also changed his pain med to using not just torbitrol but also a pain patch.
We went the month learning to walk and do things he nromally did. The first month was pretty hard. Then we had to schedule the Chemotherapy! This I was worried about.
Advice from our vet was that he had to have chemo to prevent it spreading. His x-rays showed his lungs were complete clear (the lungs is usually where it travels). There were several choices in drugs to use. The standard canine chemo had side effects of liver damage possibility and also kidney complications. Well, he was almost 11 years old and we did not want anything further to make him uncomfortable. We chose the more expensive drug that had close to zero side-effects but the same effectiveness expectation.
Ximmaron went through 4 chemos (the more expensive needs 4 treatments instead of 3 for the standard drug) and he did not have any problems with the treatments. 3 of the 4 he acted like his usual self. One of the treatments he was a little bit tired for a few days.
The treatment does was brought down a bit due to his blood test count. We had our vet do the treatments with an oncologist vet as an advisor throughout the procedures. This was important.
Gradually Ximmaron's hair grew back over his surgery site (dogs don't lose hair from chemo like humans!) and he started learning more and more how to negotiate with just 3 legs. He quickly learned to bring his right front leg closer to the middle to balance and even used his tail too! :)
Today (November 2003) Ximmaron is doing GREAT. He runs and plays and still can outrun our other dog! We've gotten very used to him being three-legged. His last checkup shows no sign of the cancer and his x-rays are great. He BEAT the CANCER!!
A few things have changed though. He doesn't like getting on the couch or bed anymore (perhaps doesn't feel as safe moving around), although if asked he will jump on the bed without problem. He still does not like stairs. I built him a ramp off the front porch and he can now go up and down easily and quickly :)
He does not like laying on his left side. I think this is because it is difficult to get up without his left leg. So, he lays on his right side only and has adapted to different positions (some of the very funny) to be comfortable.
During the intitial getting well phase his right leg elbow got very raw from using it to lay. We padded it very well and kept attention to keeping it protected. This was important because his right elbow was now much more important to him in laying down. he also rubbed off some hair on his rear but it isn't anything troublesome and he doesn't mind (it's just from the way he lays and gets up an down now).
Would he & I do this again? YOU BET! It was expensive to do but I am so glad we did. If we hadn't he would not be here now (in fact sitting right beside me as I type). He is happy, plays all the time, and is his same old self. He still gets a few phantom pains but they are not frequenty and very short. The surgeon stated that studies showed that dogs don't get phantom pains from a removed limb. I can tell you that the DO. It isn't terrible but every once in a while he will yelp a little and get up. Then it's over. He doesn't get these hardly at all anymore.
Cancer IS BEATABLE. I am grateful for he & I beaing able to beat it and have so much more time together. He is now 11 1/2 (still thinks he is 5 too, lol) and happy. He's a testimonial to medical success and that having a bone tumor is not the end.
I hope this helps someone that may be facing, or have faced the same with their greyhound. We'd be more than happy to answer any emails about our experience.
October 2005 Update - Ximmaron beat his cancer but old age set in. Please visit his memorial webpage.
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