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Time for a Reality Check

Dr. Mazzi listens to Jerry's lungsI went to the County Line Animal Hospital in La Habra today for a refill on my heartworm medicine since we’ll be on the road and off the beaten path for at least the next six months. While we were there, the nice vet convinced my people to get some x-rays of my chest.

Jim and René have always said they would rather not know if my osteosarcoma had returned or metastasized in my lungs. They believed I would let them know if the cancer came back if and when the time came. But the doctor recommended x-rays because he believes “it is better to know than to not know” … so, they agreed and I went through with it for them.

Tomorrow we’ll get the results from tests on blood and urine samples they took from me. But the films clearly indicate that I do indeed have a lump in my lung. More of a mass really, about the size of a softball from the looks of things. But as I have proven all along, I’m a special case.

osteosarcoma metastasis xrayUsually, osteosarcoma metastasis presents itself as multiple legions throughout the lungs. The doctor expected to see a “snowstorm” on the x-rays. And I could tell my people did too, deep down inside. Instead, I appear to have a single large growth, which may or may not be operable.

In fact, it may or may not have anything to do with my cancer at all. That’s probably not the case, but the doctor did mention the rare possibility that it could be totally unrelated. Perhaps he was just trying to keep our hopes up.

But my hopes are aways up! Since my operation – like Jim – I have tried to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Jim has always said he knew I would get sick again someday and that he would rather not know ahead of time. But he doesn’t regret getting the x-rays done.

Seeing them just stirs up a whole bunch of emotions and considerations ..

  • osteosarcoma metastasis xrayAre they doing everything they can for me? (As if … I wouldn’t still be here if they haven’t done everything they have already!)
  • Should they go for a consultation with the oncologist to see what options there may be for me at this point? (Drugs, chemotherapy, another surgery, might be of help.)
  • Should they pay for the costly CT scan which that doctor would surely need to make any sort of accurate recommendations? (There may be other small lumps the x-ray didn’t show.)
  • Should they have the doctor poke through my lung with a needle to test the lump? (It’s most likely malignant.)
  • In over 90% of all clinical cases, osteosarcoma is metastasized by the time of diagnosis. (That was fourteen months ago!)
  • It it worth it to put me through more trauma to get a little extra time? (They should practice what they preach about quality of life versus quantity.)
  • Should they do nothing and continue to live every day to the fullest with me as they have? (This is what they would have done if they hadn’t seen the x-rays, and the lump would still be there.)

Silly people … I think that last option is the obvious one. But they’ve asked me to see what you might do.

All those nasty human emotions from my early days of diagnosis and the amputation are coming back to bother them. Back then they were told I had a prognosis of three to four months. Look and me now.

Jerry Gets a CheckupMore than fourteen months later, I’m showing no physical symptoms that this thing inside me even exists. If they hadn’t seen the x-ray, it would still be there. And it doesn’t change how I’m going to feel when I wake up to play tomorrow morning.

My people need to ask themselves what they tell others who ask to what lengths they should go for their furry friend … If they do consider new treatments, drugs or procedures, are they doing it for me or for themselves?

Any input you may have is greatly appreciated. But whatever you do, please don’t feel sad or sorry for us. They don’t need that kind of talk right now. And I’m simply looking forward to continue living everyday to its fullest!

19 thoughts on “Time for a Reality Check”

  1. I have a beautiful 8 year old Great Dane Boxer named Sadie. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of her right front leg on 6/8/17 and had her amputation on 6/9/17. She began chemotherapy in August, she gained weight throughout treatment. Her treatment was to be 4 to 6 rounds of carboplatin(sp?). At treatment 4 she began to limp on her back left leg, I was fearful but was assured it was either a knee pull or arthritis from the weight shift she was put on anti inflammatories and did well. She completed her 5th round of chemo which took more out of her than the others. Just before her 6th and final treatment her left back leg(upper, both sides began to swell) Upon fine needle aspiration Dr. determined that tumor was on the thigh rather than in the bone and was pushing out into tissue. I inquired about x rays but it was explained that it is tough to do them on big dogs without sedation. I am looking for a next step as only option now is pain control. Please offer any advice you have.

  2. Thank you for the good wishes everyone! I’m doing great on my Metronomic Chemotherapy Protocol, so far so good, thanks to your happy thoughts! Keep ’em up!

    Love, Jerry

  3. Jerry and parents:
    You have done more for people and dogs in the past 14 months than some do in a whole life time. We are saddened by this but we know you will be ok, no matter what happens. We do not want you to suffer, so we will pray that you never have to suffer needlessly. We want you to celebrate each day of life and hope that you have many more days left.
    Dave, Karla, and Heidi, the rottie from St. Louis

  4. JerryDawg!
    We all know you are an exceptional case and will keep hopping along for some time to come. Still hoping to catch up with you this summer so you can Play, Play, Play with our nip at your heels lil pup Scout (who’s not so lil any more).

    Love ya Dawg!

  5. Jerry!

    Your mom and dad know you and love you best of all and will know what is right for you. Sorry about the “flashbacks” your parents are going through. Raven’s recent injury and all that it entailed to get her repaired certainly stirred up all the emotions of losing Rich for me. Tell your parents to trust their instincts. To trust their hearts. To trust you to let them know what to do.

    Hugs, wags, and woofs!

  6. Lalla: We love you too.

    Barney: Thanks for the support.

    Big Dog and the Boys: We can’t thank you enough for sharing the details of Malcolm’s condition. We know it must be tough to stir up these old emotions. But believe it or not, it helps to know what we might have to look forward to.

  7. Whatever you end up deciding, I know it will be the best choice for all of you. These gut-wrenching decisions are so tough.

    It might not hurt to have the opinion of the oncologist though before you finalize your choice.

    Hugs and tail wags to all of you,

    Barney B and Linda

  8. Our hearts go out to you. This post is especially tough for me but if it helps in some small way… When Angell Memorial determined that Malcolm’s cancer had metastisized to his lungs, the tumor was grapefruit sized. His prognosis was two weeks to a month they said as he was already showing signs of weakness.

    I started him on Rimadyl and Tramadol and we fought it. We started and ended every day with our new motto, “We don’t give up, we don’t give in until the end, my friend”. Malcolm was always strong so it was probably some silly thing I said to help myself.

    Long-term, daily use of NSAIDs can cause GI complications but fortunately we were spared that. However, there was one occasion that Malcolm ‘fainted’ which we surmised was from a drop in blood pressure from Tramadol so I discontinued that.

    Limited mobility was really the main symptom… and I sometimes wonder if Rimadyl masked the true extent of the situation. Aside from difficulty in getting around, Malcolm never expressed pain or discomfort and because of the rapport we had, I knew he was happy. Hell, I was feeding him steak and chicken and had become his personal chef.

    After about four months or so I noticed the girth in his back legs had gotten noticeably bigger. At the time, I had just naively assumed it was as a result of carring around the additional weight but as I soon found out, the cancer in his lungs had spread to the point that it was pushing fluid into his extremities.

    The coughing spells had become more common by this time and I discontinued Rimadyl for a day so I could better assess his condition. Without it, he had difficulty in getting around so I knew it was time for him to rest. It was uncanny because Murphy knew, too but that’s a story for another time.

    Rene & Jim – you guys are such wonderful parents and I know that you’ll listen to Jerry when the time comes. But help him fight it every step of the way. While we’ll be on the road fighting for you in our own way, we’re always here for you.


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