I just found out that my best friend, DZ has Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) on her left leg. It’s an extremely aggressive cancer and it’s heart shattering news.
I got DZ in 2011 when she was only 6 and a half weeks old. She is only 7 years old and still very full of life. She has been with me through everything and has even protected me in some of the scariest moments of my life. Honestly I don’t think I would still be here if it wasn’t for her. Those of you who know me, y’all know that this dog is my shadow and we are both inseparable. She’s the shepherd of my heart and finding out that my best friend might only have 6 months or less to live has me feeling like my whole world just came crashing down. DZ is my kid and I would do anything for her.
When did this nightmare all start? Well about a month ago, Jon and I woke up one morning and DZ was not putting any weight on her left leg. We were both very confused as to what could have happened to her. She was totally normal and without a limp the day before and even before we went to bed. All we could think of was that maybe DZ could have tweaked her leg somehow playing with Doug or jumping around. It still didn’t make much sense to us though, since she was absolutely fine the previous day. I kind of sarcastically said to Jon, “God I hope it’s not cancer or something. I would be a mess.” We both agreed that it must be something she did while playing with her brother Douglas on the beach a couple days prior. We made her rest and few days later the limp was entirely gone. A week or so went by and then we decided to check out a really cool beach with the dogs close by to where we both live. We let them run around full speed and romp and play. DZ started limping again on her left leg. Not as bad this time, but I thought for sure that she had aggravated her leg where we thought she tweaked it. The next day it seemed to have gotten a tad bit better and it seemed to come and go the following weeks. We tried to keep her off of it as best we could considering how active she is. Over those next couple of weeks she seemed to be more protective about her brother Douglas and her toys with other friends’ dogs.
At the very end of March, we woke up and DZ could no longer put weight on her left leg and wasn’t acting herself and didn’t want to eat or drink. I wanted to take her into the vet so badly, but money was tight. Jon finally told me that I needed to take her in right now and that he would cover it. Jon loves my dogs as if they are his own. He wanted to help DZ very badly. On April 1st, I took DZ to the vet to have her leg checked out and to have it x rayed in hopes that they could shine some light on her injury. They took x rays of her leg and had to send them off to a specialist to interpret them. I asked the vet what she thought it was and she kind of danced around the question and told me that she could not give me a definite answer until the x rays were reviewed. She did state that they definitely could see something on her left radius. I was given a bunch of tramadol for DZ’s pain and a bunch of Carprofen for her swelling and was told they would contact me tomorrow with a diagnosis and what to do next. I left that vet hoping and praying that it was just a fracture, but I felt like I could see the answer written all over the vet’s face that it was cancer and that my whole world was about to come crashing down. I had a good cry on the way home with DZ. Douglas had come along with us to support his sister. I actually had a bunch of cries when I got home and my mind started to worry and I tried everything to mentally prepare myself for the worst. I called out of work, because I was an absolute mess.
Tomorrow came and it was now today. I stared at my phone all morning and around 0930 I received the call. I let it go to voicemail, because I was so scared to answer it. I composed myself and called them back immediately. The vet answered. She told me she had really bad news about DZ. My heart dropped. I felt like I couldn’t focus. She told me that DZ’s x rays showed that she has osteosarcoma (bone cancer) on her left radius and that it’s an extremely aggressive form of cancer. She told me that there is no cure and that I would need to start thinking about surgery. My sarcastic remark from a month ago and nightmare had just become reality just like that. I asked her with such a shaky voice, “What kind of surgery?” The vet replied with, “Amputation of her left leg and a bone biopsy after leg removal and possibly chemo.” I felt bad for the vet. I could hear in her voice that she was having a hard time giving me this news. I asked her more about the osteosarcoma and how aggressive it was and how long did DZ have without surgery and with surgery. The vet explained to me that without amputation, DZ might live 6 months or less and that with amputation she might live 6 months up to a year and that sometimes in rare cases those stats can be beaten. I felt my chest cave in at that point. I asked the vet if the amputation stops it at all. She went on to explain that even though it doesn’t appear to have spread anywhere else, it would still come back and that the amputation was to get rid of the horrible pain that DZ had in her left leg and that it would increase her quality of life for the time that we have left with her. She said that she thought DZ would do very well on three legs and that she recommended that I do it sooner than later. I thanked her and she apologized and I told her that it’s not her fault and that I was sorry that she had to deliver such sad news. We both hung up and I collapsed onto the floor into tears. DZ had been feeling better that day with the pain and anti-inflammatory meds that she had gotten. DZ and Douglas rushed over to me and covered me in kisses. Whenever I cry, DZ starts talking to me like a husky does. She makes funny noises as if she’s talking to me and telling me toughen up, it’s going to be okay. I started smiling again and realized that I have to get control of the situation and make the best of it and be there for my dogs.
Around noon, the vet emailed me DZ’s x rays and reffered me to oncologists for DZ’s surgery.
The first photo above is a comparison of DZ’s front legs and you can see the classic moth eaten appearance on DZ’s left leg. That’s the bone cancer. The middle photo is her right leg. It’s normal. The last photo is her cancer.
DZ’s chest x ray:
They did a chest x ray and so far it hasn’t spread into her lungs or anywhere else that we know of. That’s good news. Unfortunately, because it is such an aggressive cancer, amputation really is not a cure, but a way to improve her quality of life and extend her time here. There have been rare cases where the cancer never comes back and there have been other cases where it does, but not until years later after the amputation. Her leg is very painful and she can no longer walk on it. I’m hopeful that this surgery will improve her circumstances, quality of life, and get rid of her pain. It’s going to be expensive for me. It’s money that I don’t have right now that I need right now when she needs it most. I have started this gofundme page to reach out to anyone who might be willing to help with DZ’s vet bill. I hate asking people for things, but I really have to now. I have to be able to act fast on this. Anything that you can spare for this will help and I will be forever greatful to you. I really do appreciate the prayers and the good thoughts more than I can express. DZ is my world.
Now if someone could pinch me and wake me up from this nightmare, that would be great.