Opa’s last chemo treatment
Tucson Pet Event: Bark For Life of Pima County
American Cancer Society Fundraiser
Saturday, August 18 – 6:45 to 9:30 a.m.
Bark For Life is a community event to celebrate cancer survivors and their canine companions — and to remember people and dogs who lost their lives to cancer. Enjoy doggie games, contests, team walks/fundraising, demos, and vendors.
The 2012 vendors are:
- Cakes for Causes
- Central Pet
- Dog Central Station
- Humane Society of Southern AZ
- LifeVantage / Protandim
- Southern AZ Beagle Rescue
- Southern AZ Veterinary Specialty & Emergency
- Southwest Veterinary Oncology
900 South Randolph Way
Tucson, Arizona 85716
(from Country Club, turn onto Picnic Place, just north of 22nd St.)
Beside the Miko’s Corner Playground at Reid Park
Tucson Tails has often wondered why so many of our beloved pets suffer from cancer. Is it from the food and treats? Is it from flea & tick medication? Is it from heartworm medication? Is it from environmental toxins? Is it from second-hand smoke? Is it from being over vaccinated?
Meet Opa who is a feisty petite 8-year-old female greyhound adopted by my friends Michelle and Brian Caillet. Opa will be at the Bark for Life event. Depending how hot it is, she may or may not walk the route. Opa doesn’t let her tripod status affect her self confidence. She’s an inspiration. Go Opa!
In her own words, Michelle Caillet talks about Opa’s experience:
“It must be the worst, ugliest, scariest words a veterinarian can say to you. How can it be? My hound is healthy; she eats and she plays! She can’t have osteosarcoma. But, she can.
Osteosarcomas are the most common primary bone tumor in dogs, and the most common tumor in greyhounds in the United Kingdom, where it accounted for 50% of all tumors, and for 22% of the deaths in the breed. Cancer in general (44%), and osteosarcoma in particular (22%) were the leading cause of death in the breed. At the University of Florida, 10% of all dogs with osteosarcoma were greyhounds, and the risk of developing this cancer was higher for Greyhounds than for any other breeds. (reference)
Though, many times osteosarcoma is not diagnosed until the hound suffers a leg break. Osteosarcoma does not cause illness; often the signs may be so slight, as they are undetected. If lucky, you will have time to research you options and what help might be out there. We came across a couple veterinary schools doing amazing studies and treatments as well as the standard care and options for greyhounds.
The three legged dog resource, Tripawds, was an amazing help in deciding if amputation was a valid option. The blogs are written by the people who have made this choice, their experiences, the dogs’ health and well being following surgery, their recovery process, and any complications experienced.
Dr. Couto at The Ohio State University Veterinary School manages a Greyhound Health and Wellness Program (GHWP). By becoming a member of GHWP your membership dollars (currently only $99) enable the program to:
–Support health studies in greyhounds and other sight hounds;
–Continue to provide chemotherapy at no cost for retired racers (approx $1,200);
–Provide financial support to owners who cannot afford healthcare for their hounds if evaluated/treated at Ohio State;
–Organize the Ohio State annual Greyhound/Sight Hound conference; and
–Publish and disseminate current information on Greyhound health care.
Reaching out through our Facebook page, we connected with people all over the country who have experienced the same diagnosis or were just incredibly supportive, uplifting and graceful in helping us through the ordeal. You can follow our postings of Opa’s diagnosis, surgery and current recovery there.
GreytHealth.com by Suzanne Stack, DVM, has numerous articles regarding greyhound health and diagnosis.
We opted for the choice to give Opa more life. Opa had her amputation May 4, 2012. Though there were complications with her surgery (statistically 90 – 95% of dogs have none) extending her stay and treatment at the hospital. She returned home on May 8. We had some additional care regarding edema, swelling, which was handled using ace bandages as pressure wraps on her legs, lots of massaging, and love. A few days later, the swelling subsided and she was well on her way to recovery.
Opa was walking on her own when she came home and didn’t want any part of being separated from her fur-friends and brother Riley. She hopped out to potty and returned through the doggy door to greet them all. The first couple of weeks were rough on us yet she handled it with a grace and fearlessness that is admired by all. Fortunately, I work from home and was able to provide 24-hour supervision.
Opa had a total of four chemo treatments. They are usually given three weeks apart, however, her white blood cell counts dipped making it less safe to treat. So we had the treatments spaced out every four weeks when she had strong counts. The Ohio State University sent the chemo drugs directly to the oncologist, which reduced our bills significantly.
“Less than 20% of dogs undergoing chemotherapy experience clinically relevant adverse effects, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. However, their frequency and severity are not as high as in humans. The prevalence of adverse effects appears to be lower in greyhounds than in other dog breeds. These adverse effects are typically managed with medications, chemo drug dose reduction, or changing to a different chemotherapeutic agent” ***
Opa was a bit tired after round one for the first 24 hours but ate normally and hung out with me all day.
Today she runs, plays, goes for walks every morning, eats, and otherwise is a healthy well-rounded hound. For her, we believe it was the right decision. OSU’s program was a great guide through their articles and studies and their supply of Carboplatin for Opa’s chemo treatment is priceless. You can read Opa’s chronology here as well as donate in her honor if you’re so inclined.
So far, there are no signs of cancer. Her lungs were clear in the x-rays done a couple weeks ago. That is where we watch most closely as the lungs are more than likely where it will return. For now…SHE’S IN REMISSION (so to speak)!
We will be looking into following up with Metronomic chemotherapy when Opa completes her scheduled chemo cycle of treatments to help extend her remission and her healthy, happy lifestyle. If she’s a good candidate, we will start giving her a daily treatment (in pill form) of a small dose of chemo every day for the rest of her life.
Check out the Ohio State University program and give it some thought and if it fits your budget, purchase a membership. A perfect amputation followed by chemotherapy will cost $7,000 (or more) in medical bills. We were fortunate to have pet insurance which helped. But due to Opa’s complications and extra long hospital stay, the cost was much higher. Even if you never have to use the services (and we hope you don’t), you will help continue their studies and your donation may help a may another hound in need.” More info about greyhounds and cancer.