Apr 062013
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SashaSasha went to North Carolina State’s veterinary school on Thursday (04/04/13) for her second round of palliative radiation, and her first round of Pamidronate.   The last time I wrote about Sasha, I explained that her condition had quickly deteriorated, and we were hours from saying goodbye to her – forever.  In an effort to dull her pain and make her more comfortable, we increased the dosage of Tramadol that we were giving her.  She got worse.  The pain was too great for the medications that we had on hand, and so our answer to this (supported by two veterinarians) was to increase the amount of Tramadol that we were giving Sasha.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Sasha was not suffering from pain so much as she was experiencing extreme dysphoria from the Tramadol, and it only got worse as we increased the dosage.  This mistake of ours almost cost Sasha her life.

Liliana-Sasha  Carlos-Sasha

After realizing that there was a correlation between when we gave Sasha her Tramadol, and when her suffering was at its worst (30 minutes after Tramadol, Sasha’s eyes were popping out of her head), we immediately reduced the dosage.  Sasha improved dramatically over the course of the first day, and continued to get better the following day.  It was at this time that we knew we needed to find an alternative method of managing Sasha’s pain.

Liliana and I spoke to Dr. Mason from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania the day after we found out that Sasha’s cancer had come back.  We talked about some of the options that were available to help Sasha cope with the pain that was sure to come.  We had a similar conversation, more recently, with Dr. Hauck from the North Carolina State veterinary school.  Both Dr. Mason and Dr. Hauck offered identical advice.  They suggested to continue giving Sasha her oral pain medications (Carprofen, Gabapentin and Tramadol), and also explained the benefits of palliative radiation and Pamidronate.   Unfortunately, it took us longer than it probably should have, but Liliana and I decided to go ahead with palliative radiation treatments as well as Pamidronate infusions.

The results thus far have been very good.  Sasha is mostly back to her old self.  She has enjoyed several outings where she excitedly tugged at her leash because Liliana and I were not walking fast enough for her liking.  We have also taken her swimming at Lap it Up in Durham.  When we first walked into the pool area, we waited with great anticipation, but also a certain amount apprehension and fear, to see if Sasha would get in the pool.  She did!  She swam the entire time we were there, and she did not want to leave when our time was up.  We were so happy and proud of our girl!


If you look closely, you can see the blue target painted on Sasha’s shaven butt for her radiation treatment.

The best part is that the radiation and Pamidronate have not had time to take their full effect.  Sasha will probably experience even more relief in the coming days and weeks!  Liliana and I are fully aware that the cancer is back, and we are under no illusion that the long-term prognosis for Sasha is not good.  That is why we are happy beyond words that Sasha is able to, not only stay with us for longer, but also enjoy herself.  She currently has a very good quality of life, and she finds joy in all of the things in life that have always made her happy.


Laser focused and waiting for mom to throw her favorite toy in the pool.

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  5 Responses to “New Treatments for Sasha – Good Results”

Comments (5)

    This is such good news! I hope you get much more time to enjoy Sasha. She really looks like she is having fun in the pool. It’s great exercise for her and will help to keep her strong. Thanks for continuing to share Sasha.
    Hugs and kisses to Sasha and the entire gang!

    Barbara, Pat & Ziva


    Blessings to you guys as you face this horrible cancer. We had two greyhounds diagnosed with osteoscarma within 6 months of each other. Speedo was first…amputation and chemo. I am amazed to say that next month will mark the two year anniversary of his diagnosis, amputation. As one of your posts mentioned, maybe he is in the lucky 10 percent. His oncologist seems to think so. He is currently only eight years old, so it would be wonderful to have him around for a while. Shaggy was diagnosed in November of the same year. His bone tumor was located in his left shoulder. By the time we figured out what was going on, he was one sick guy. Saying good-bye was horrible for our family. We miss him everyday. Stay strong! Enjoy each day!


      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for visiting our blog and for writing. I’m sorry to hear that you have first-hand experience with osteosarcoma. In doing research about the disease, we learned that greyhounds seem to be high on the list of dogs that commonly develop osteosarcoma. We are lucky that Sasha was quickly and accurately diagnosed by our vet, or the same fate that befell Shaggy, could have happened to Sasha. Not many dogs get to see more than a few months after diagnosis, and almost none make it beyond a year. Speedo is a fighter! How lucky you are to still have him. We feel very lucky to still have Sasha with us, too. Each extra day with Sasha is a gift and we know it.

      Thank you again for writing and sharing your story. Please give Speedo hug from us.


    I just came across your blog and was hoping to see good news with regards to the study Sasha has been in. Sorry to see that the cancer has returned. I was hoping for better news.My dog (a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February 2011. She was not even 7 years old at that time.We decided not to amputate her leg for several reasons (why is not important here). At the end of April she could hardly walk for 10 minutes. That is when we started with palliative radiotherapy. Four sessions, one week apart from each other. No pamidronate iv (I did suggest it to the vet, but here in the Netherlands they are not used to that yet). About 3 days after the first session we saw she was walking a bit better. After she completed the four rounds, she was our happy silly girl again. She could walk again for about 1 hour, running and playing and all. I reduced the amount of NSAID and tramadol almost to a minimum. She remained my pain free happy girl until the day she died (due to lung metastases).
    Good luck with Sasha´s treatment!


      Hi Bianca,

      I’m sorry about your dear girl. It sounds like she had a great quality of life all the way to her end. That is the most important thing, and what we are trying for with Sasha. The radiation has helped her feel better, and I’m sure the Pamidronate has also relieved some of her pain. We have taken Sasha completely off of Tramadol, and now she only gets Carprofen and Gabapentin. We are very happy with how she is faring.

      We may not have gotten the exact results that we wanted from the vaccine, but we do feel that it has probably helped Sasha live as long as she has so far. I saw some data on the dogs that received the vaccine, and as a group, the results look very promising. A cure it may not be, but the vaccine appears to extend the lives of affected dogs.

      Thank you for writing!

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