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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good evening everyone

Freya, my Lab, is 11 & 1/2 and I have benefited greatly from previous advice the forum have given as regards health conditions, so thank you very much. For background, she is 11 & 1/2 but still in very good condition; she is almost ideal weight at 30.5kg, she's very active (chases tennis balls and happily does 10k walks) and other than spay incontinence and very mild kidney condition she is in very good health.

We've had another - fairly serious - condition develop as per the thread title, and I'd be grateful for any advice / suggestions people could give.

Headlines:

  • 3 weeks ago, I was 'tummy rubbing' Freya and I found a lump about the size of a pea in her right armpit. I took her to the vets that day and they did a fine needle aspiration.
  • Subsequent tests confirmed that it is a Sarcoma; it was removed by surgery last Monday 5 Apr, by which time it had grown to about the size of half a large marble - quite significant growth for such a short period. Of note, not all of the mass could be removed due to proximity of ribcage and associated muscles / ligaments.
  • Upon removal, the mass was sent to a laboratory for Histology, those results came back today.
  • Histology indicates that it is a Grade 3 soft tissue Sarcoma. The fact that it is a Grade 3 means that there is a high (40-70%) chance of metastasis or recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are under investigation by my vets, I hope to have an idea of options by the end of the week. I am also scoping a second opinion because the vets I use do not have the finest reputation in the town, to be diplomatic.
Questions / request for advice:
  • Is getting a second opinion a viable thing to do?
  • Due to an operation for a previous mast cell tumour, this Sarcoma is not covered by my Pet Insurance policy; as such I'll be covering the costs of any chemotherapy / radiotherapy out of my own pocket. I have in mind a cost ceiling as I have to be pragmatic, I'm not a millionaire, so I have arrived at a sum that I'm prepared to spend.
    • Does anyone have any experience of paying for radio / chemotherapy? How much does it cost? Are there any side effects for the animal?
  • If my vets refer her to a veterinary oncologist, can I speak to that specialist directly?
  • If chemo / radiotherapy are a 'no-go', what is a likely lifespan from hereon in? Reason I ask is that I am going away with work for 7 months come late Jun and she is planned to go & stay with friends of mine in my home town. If I will likely be saying cheerio to her when I jump onto the aeroplane in Jun I'd like to know beforehand.

I appreciate that every case is different and so much depends upon the animal and how she responds. However, the forum's advice has proved superb beforehand, so anything people can add would be gratefully received.

Thank You

Freya's Dad.
 

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Sorry, I cant tell you a lot. A friend had a grade 3 on his Flatcoat. At the time, (Around 18 years ago) I think the chemo cost £5000, so you can probably double that now. It was quite debilitating for the dog, and he took quite a while to perk up. But then within 2 years it was back.

But being realistically, a question which is unanswerable is, How long could you hope to expect before it returns if you do nothing? My friend's Flatcoat was only 6, so his thinking was that with a little luck he might get another 6 or 7 years with his dog. In fact he only got 2 years, of which for the first 9 months his dog was still recovering from the effects of the chemo, and for the last 6 months the cancer was returning. So in reality he only had around 9 months of a healthy dog. I said after that I would not put my dog through it. But as I said at the start, that was around 18 years ago, and things improve all the time. But being blunt, at 11.5 she probably only has 18 months to 2 years left for a normal life span. What will the quality of life be while undergoing and recovering from the chemo? As I say, things have no doubt improved in the intervening years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi John
Thank you for replying so quickly, much appreciated.

It is interesting that you mention the sum of £5000, as that is exactly the sum I had in mind - albeit I notice that you mention that chemo was £5000 18 years ago!!!

Your points regarding Freya's current age are also absolutely spot on, she will be 12 in November and my take on it has always been that when I get back from my overseas work detachment, I would view every day I had with her after that as a bonus.

Given as how quickly the original lump grew (from c5-6mm across 3 weeks ago to easily an inch across last Monday) I am resigned to the 'do nothing' option leading to swift recurrence. By this, I mean in a matter of weeks. I base that on no veterinary advice, just my feeling in the water.

Next step is the vet advising of radio / chemo options, I will keep you appraised.

TVM
 

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I can only comment on the chemo we had, one round, cost next to nothing (in the scheme of things), it did reduce the size of inoperable tumours for a few weeks, dog had zero side affects. The dog was 14 and the deterioration came when she started taking steroids.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi all
Thank you again for your interest and replies - much appreciated.

A veterinary oncologist in the Central Belt has advised that radiotherapy is a possibility, and that this could commence in a couple of weeks' time. To be fair, they (and my local vet) have indicated that this is not a panacea, and might not be entirely effective, but I am minded to give it a go. This will cost c£5000, which (whilst not money I have down the back of the sofa) I am prepared to finance - for one course of treatment only. After that, I'm afraid we are in the lap of the Gods. According to the vet who did me a second opinion earlier this week, my insurance firm are notorious amongst the veterinary community for evading pay-outs, so I am resigned to covering the radiotherapy costs myself.

I've done a fair bit of research (mainly Google) on the effectiveness of radiotherapy on Grade 3 Sarcoma, apart from very in-depth veterinary and university papers there isn't a great deal to go on.

I will keep "the body of the kirk" here appraised.
 

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I'd be very interested to know how this is done with dogs? I can tell you exactly how it's dont for humans having had it myself for prostate cancer.

Firstly, after biopsies, I was MRI scanned to determine the exact position of the cancer, then three gold "Seeds" were placed in my prostate to act as aiming points. I then had three tattoo dots to act as rough aiming points. For the actual treatment I was laid on a moveable table and lasers in the walls and ceiling were used to align three tattoos. The operator then left me and an ex-ray was taken to show the three gold seeds and the table was then moved to accurately align me. The machine then moved over me and the actual treatment began, which took around 20 minutes. This procedure was repeated every day for 7.5 weeks.

I really cant believe that the canine treatment could possibly be as in depth, which is probably why the outcome is more varied. My treatment was 5 years ago and so far all fine. I will be checked annually for the rest of my life.
 

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At her age it’s not something I would consider. My father has just had radiotherapy for bladder cancer. He had a really bad time of it. As you had, John, treatment daily for many weeks. How that’d work with a dog, that would have to be heavily sedated each time, I don’t know?

I’d enjoy what time she has to the max. Even if it is successful, the time you have together before you go away, is going to be spent undergoing treatment.

Good luck with whatever you decide
 

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I'm guessing Nicola that the radiation will be heavily applied over just one or two sessions, rather lighter irradiation over a longer period.
 

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You’re probably right. It’s still not something I’d consider for a 12 year old. I wonder, seriously, if the vets are being entirely ethical by offering it? Just because it’s possible, it doesn’t mean you should. No matter what, it’s between a rock and a hard place.
 

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I'm inclined to agree with you Nicola. I know what it was like when I had it. I must admit I did literally nothing for a year, (Though much of that was the treatment before the radiation treatment started.) I was in and out of hospital, and being old and decerped it took me another year to get over it, mainly because of muscle wastage which accentuated my hip problems. (Too much falling off motorcycles back in my racing days!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi all
Short update; the original lump removal site has healed greatly, to the extent that Madam has been beach swimming and tennis ball chasing all week. However, three more lumps have surfaced - one on her shoulder / brisket, one on the inner side of her back right leg, and one on her back. The first two have been fine needle aspirated; the vets emphasised that the samples taken were quite 'bloody' so this may not be a good sign.

In sum, I am beginning to think that this might be spread of the condition, but I await specialist confirmation.

I'm expecting an appointment at Glasgow Uni Vet School oncology dept some time in the next week, once they have taken a look at her and advised of possible options I will let you all know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Hi all.

On Thursday 29 Apr, we went to the Small Animal Hospital at Glasgow University. Upshot of it all:
  • Freya has an aggressive form of bone cancer that has metastasised through her lungs & abdomen. It is inoperable and untreatable - therefore any previous thoughts of chemo / radiotherapy are null & void, and we are now into keeping her comfortable.
  • Timescales - she has 1 to 2 months, although the vets have said that it may well be less than that as these things can "turn on a sixpence".
  • She's currently on a painkiller called Loxicom, which has worked wonders for her general mobility. She's sleeping a lot and occasionally going outside for very short ball-in-the-garden sessions. I tried taking her for a walk today, after 2-300 yards her breathing was so laboured that I about-turned and took her home.
  • Tomorrow I'm going to put her into the boot of the car (I have a large estate car, the rear 1/3 is Madam's palace!!!) and take her on a bit of a farewell road-trip to see my sister, aunt & uncle, and my little brother. I also want to get a few photos of her at her favourite beaches.
  • Her vets tell me that because of Covid constraints they cannot come to my house and 'do the deed', so it will have to be at the surgery - a place I know she hates. When the time comes I am going to ask them to administer the injection in the boot of my car and leave me with her.
  • I am finding it hard to comprehend that from first finding a small lump (on Mar 26) to where we are now is just over 5 weeks, and we are now looking at the end of the rainbow in a matter of days if not weeks. To say this has come out of nowhere is somewhat of an understatement!!!!!

Thank you all for your information, kind words and help over the course of this journey. She is comfortable and responsive just now, and please rest assured I will make the right decision when her time has arrived.

Freya's Dad.

Frey Wyvis 2.jpg


Freya, Ben Wyvis, 2015
 

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Life can be so hard sometimes. Just make things as good for her as you can and take each day as it comes
 

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So heartbreaking. It never gets easier. If you would like her to start her journey at home I would ring around vets in your area or even see if you have a mobile vet who’d visit your home. I cannot believe that a vet would not visit your home. With the situation so much improved in the UK I’d imagine the risks would be negligible.

Enjoy the time that you have left, when it comes to it, we’ll be here for you.

Sending hugs.
 

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So sorry to read this. Thinking of you,
 

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So very sorry to read this, it's a privilege to own them and the longer we have that privilege the harder it is to say goodbye xx
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi all
The day arrived today. She left us at 1545hrs, rather peacefully lain on her bedding pad in the boot of my car.

So, so many thanks to you all for your advice and information, she is now in no pain and I will collect her ashes in about 10 days' time. I have a favourite beach of hers in mind for scattering.
 
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