I grew up with two golden retrievers, Luke and Rusty. There was nothing better than seeing their expression of bliss when I got home from school, seeing the satisfaction they received from bringing me back a tennis ball, or the comfort they brought me when I was feeling down. I thought of them the day I met Ginger.
Ginger’s family learned this year that osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor of large breed dogs, often occurring in the metaphysis of the long bones. Unfortunately, most owners of a dog diagnosed with this cancer are confronted with a decision of whether to amputate a limb or to help the dog maintain its quality of life as long as possible while living with this painful bone lesion. The outcome of this decision varies and is dependent on several factors. When it comes to making sure you are making the right decision for that loyal companion, you want to be sure that you have all of the information you need to make it.
Several people have told me that I must have been temporarily insane when I chose to become an oncologist. Cancer and chemotherapy are not words that people look forward to hearing and chemotherapy is certainly not something they look forward to giving to their pets. I have even been told by my clients “I hope I never see you again, Dr. Linderman” and I tell them “The feeling is mutual.”
This aspect of the job is quite challenging, but the results make it worth coming to work every day. It is not always the right decision to perform a radical procedure, such as an amputation, or to recommend a course of chemotherapy; but, for the right patients, it is a life saving decision. The video attached to this blog was taken 6 months after Ginger’s amputation. Like most dogs after surgery, she had no side effects while going through her course of chemotherapy. No evidence of recurrent disease was seen on the work-up that day and we are looking forward to seeing her beautiful face again in 3 months for another quick check up.
I once watched a documentary about the artist Bruce Bickford and learned that there are two terrible things about life: 1. “it is so terrible” and 2. “it is so short!” While cancer is one of the most terrible events that life has to throw at us, we do not have to give up. There have been many incredible advances in veterinary cancer care. With a little sacrifice in the right places, we can find hope and continue to give back to our pets the same devotion they show us.Dr. Michael J. Linderman
"Ginger just a few week after her surgery"