A Tail of Courage over Cancer
By Lonna Coleman and Salty
7 years old, a lump became visible on Salty’s right hip.
My heart dropped!
From observation only, our vet diagnosed it as a Lipoma.
A sense of relief!
A needle biopsy revealed a few round cells.
Despair!!! Histopathy of the lump, after removal, reported it as a Grade
1 Soft Tissue Sarcoma, a tumor originating from the nerve sheath.
Because Salty’s tumor was in a difficult position, the surgeon was not able to excise the tumor with wide enough margins, typically curative for peripheral nerve sheath tumors. So, radiation therapy was recommended. We were left with a decision to leave it and have it return within a year as a much more aggressive tumor (possibly a Grade 2 that could metastasis to his lungs), or treat the tumor with radiation, giving Salty only a 16% chance of the cancer returning in 5 years.
We soon discovered that deciding on a treatment was much more difficult than receiving the diagnosis, realizing that our decision would determine Salty’s life span and possibly affect his quality of life. At times, we were leaning towards diet and supplements alone. But, with the exception of using maitake mushrooms to successfully treat Lymphoma, there’s insufficient research using diet and supplements in treating cancer.
After considering these facts: Salty’s age, research proving that radiation treatment will give Salty an 84% chance of the tumor not returning within 5 years, and knowing that Salty jumps into everything head first with all of the joy and enthusiasm he can muster, we opted for radiation as well as diet and various supplements (with the exception of antioxidants and wormwood) to aid his body in its fight against cancer. We were told by our vet, as well as the oncologist, that both antioxidants and wormwood can block the effectiveness of the radiation.
Salty’s case, the oncologist recommended 20 treatments in a period of 5 weeks.
Our vet’s only concern was that Salty wouldn’t be the same dog after being
anesthetized 20 times, once for each radiation treatment.
But, after talking to the oncologist, our vet was extremely happy with
both their procedure (an injection of Propofol, intubation and isoflurane gas),
and the experience they have gained from performing such a vast number of
always entered the
The last 3 radiation treatments and the following two weeks were the hardest part for both Salty and I. When Salty started experiencing a lot of pain in the irradiated area after his 17th treatment, it was very hard to bring him in for the next 3 treatments, knowing it would hurt him even more after it was already hurting him so much.
was also beginning to show signs of a 2nd degree burn in the area of the
incision where the tumor was removed. Over the next 3 days, this spread over the
entire area. The extreme skin
tenderness and the 2nd degree burn were the only side effects Salty
experienced from the radiation treatments.
times a day, I needed to soak the area with Epsom salts and apply an all purpose
salve from Wise Woman Herbals. It was too painful for Salty to accept the salve
in the beginning, so I
sprayed the area with refrigerated
Aloe Vera until I could apply the salve.
We’ve never regretted our decision, especially after meeting and talking with a lady who was going to the Oncology center during the same period of time. She was having her cat treated with radiation for a Soft Tissue Sarcoma as well. Her vet removed it once, it returned in 6 months, her vet removed it again, it returned in 3 months, her vet removed it again, it returned in 1 month. At that point, she opted for radiation treatment. I was told that Salty would have had the same case scenario if we didn’t choose radiation. After radiation, there’s only a 16% chance that the cancer will return in 5 years. We’re hoping that Salty will be within the 84%! :-)
AKC Agility Trial 3 months after radiation
AKC Agility Trial after 10th radiation treatment
Salty and his sister Delilah at a dog park after 17th treatment