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Athena's Cancer Journey

Another Amazing Tripawds Three Legged Dog Blog

Athena's Cancer Journey

A Little More About Athena

April 13th, 2013 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I just made my first post summarizing the whirlwind of activity that has been the last 4 days- post osteosarcoma diagnosis.
Athena is a 6 1/2 year old female Rottweiler Mix that I adopted in October 2006 at about 3 1/2 months old. She has not had great luck with her health, present situation included. At one year old, she started showing lameness in her back legs. Walking stiffly and taking over one minute just to stand up from a laying position. The x-rays revealed mild hip displaysia and arthritis, but the cause of the pain was an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in both rear legs. I was referred to the University of Georgia Teaching Hospital an hour away [I was living in GA for work at the time]. She had TPLO surgery on the right rear leg, essentially cutting the tibia and reattaching it at a new angle with a plate so the bone could regrow and heal.

After TPLO surgery in 2008.

After TPLO surgery in 2008.

Her recovery was excellent and really no other serious health problems, aside from the occassional arthritis stiffness. Now she is facing amputation of her left front leg from bone cancer…

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Meet Athena! Plus Diagnosis and First Week.

April 13th, 2013 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

Athena after a swim, her favorite thing to do.

Athena after a swim, her favorite thing to do.

April 2, 2013, Tuesday:
Brought Athena to family vet for annual exam and vaccinations. She had started limping 3 days earlier on her front left leg. I assumed she hurt herself rough housing with the Silky terrier, Scuffy, our other dog. I didn’t even notice that there was some swelling in that leg, right above the ankle, until I was sitting in the waiting room. The vet manipulated the leg and listed off a few possible causes: hairline fracture, sprain, lyme disease (which she first tested positive for about 2 years ago), and the dreaded “C-word.” I was given pain meds and told to come back in a few days if the swelling hadn’t gone down.

April 9, 2013, Tuesday:
The swelling hasn’t gone down. 🙁 I bring Athena back to the family vet to get x-rays of the leg. I am taken to the back to be shown the results, and it’s not good. There is a bone tumor, and I am told with a very high certainty that it is osteosarcoma. Apparently large breed dogs are most susceptable, especially Rottweilers (and Athena is half Rottie.) There is a 90% chance that cancerous cells have already traveled to her lungs. So I ask, “Her survival time is going to be measured in months?” Yes. I am speechless, staring at the radiograph in disbelief. Amputation is an option, to try slowing down the spread, but I am told that she is too heavy and big chested and carries a lot of weight on the front legs. I go home to try to clear my head and think about what to do now. (I am also given Tramadol & Deramaxx to manage her pain.)

April 11, 2013, Thursday:
After talking with my family at home, we have decided that if amputation has a chance at extending her life, that is what we will do. We bring her back to the vet to get chest x-rays and blood drawn to do a CBC & Chemistry profile. I also ask for a referral to see an oncologist. (They send my information & I call to make an appt… the soonest I can get is next Thursday, the 18th. I am in agony waiting!) In the meantime, my family vet can’t say with certainty that there is anything in her lungs. There are a few questionable spots.

April 12, 2013, Friday:
Got the results for her blood tests this morning and everything is within normal ranges, so I am told that she is healthy enough for the amputation surgery. I make an appointment at another vet clinic in the area to bring the chest radiographs for a second opinion on Monday. I just can’t wait until Thursday to have the oncologist look at them. Not knowing if her lungs are damaged yet or not is stressing me, terribly! On a good note, her alkaline phosphatase level is 32 U/L (out of a 10-150 U/L range) and from what I’m reading, having a lower level means better “long term” survival odds after amputation.

I have already told Athena that I am in this for the long haul. As long as she is telling me that she is strong enough to fight this awful diagnosis, I will do everything in my power to help her. She still acts like her normal happy self, besides the painful limping, with no coughing or struggling to breath, so I have to believe that she will fight as long as her body holds out for her.
~Jessica, Athena’s caretaker

{I was referred to the tripawds message board by a vet tech at my family vet office that had to deal with osteosarcoma, amputation & chemo for her dog, who survived over a year after amputation.}

The day I brought her home. <3

The day I brought her home. <3

First day home after adoption.

First day home after adoption.

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