Hannibal's Cancer Care

Hannibal's Cancer Care

From David Robert Schumpert

My 7 year old mastiff Hannibal was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer). He is my greatest friend. I am raising money here for his medical and palliative care to give him the best life I can for as long as possible.

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Those of you who know me also at least know of my 7 year old mastiff, Hannibal. I bought him when he was just an 8 week old puppy at the Jockey Lot in Anderson, SC.  I have raised him from a puppy and for the last 7 years he has grown into an integral central aspect of my life.  I don’t know how to exist without him.

About 5 months ago, I noticed his front left ankle was swollen and so I naturally hought he had sprained it and it would get better if he just took it easy. . When I noticed the swelling had not gone down over the next couple of days, I brought him to his veterinarian Dr. Shane Turner who maintains his practice, Animal House Veterinary Hospital in Clemson, SC. He almost immediately came to the conclusion that it could be cancer.  We began treatment with steroids and anti-inflammatories and a diagnostic x-ray was scheduled.   The pattern of bone loss and tumor growth on the x-ray confirmed some form of bone cancer, most likely osteosarcoma.   According to Dr. Turner Hannibal is already at what would be designated stage 4 terminal cancer in a human.

Hannibal was given a year, given there are no complications and he does well in the following months. However, the doctor did note that the tumor in his leg will eventually break his leg and that it’s inevitable. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when…. and when it does happen, his quality of life will diminish drastically and at that point, he absolutely will be suffering and will be in a tremendous amount of constant excruciating pain.  I live each day in terror of when that leg will break.  Anything that will help that leg hold out and keep his pain controlled so he has quality of life is something we need to pursue as quickly as possible.

Potential treatment include amputation, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and an IV inffusion treatment that should both strengthen the bone and greatly reduce pain.  However, given his size being that he weighs nearly 200 lbs, there are concerns that even with successful surgery he would not be able to get around.. The last time he was weighed, he was 180 lbs but since being out on steroids for inflammation, the steroids (Prednisone) has caused him to gain quite a bit of weight so we are guessing he is closer to 200 lbs now and the surgery would have consisted of amputating his leg so their are great concerns that his size and weight may cause too many complications.

So with that being said, he had a consultation on Wednesday March 1 to see an oncology specialist, Dr. Ivan  Martinez.   Dr. Martinez conducted an extensive series of evaluations one of which revealed a heart arrhythmia.  Dr. Martinez conducted an EKG that showed atrial fibrillation from previously undiscovered heart disease unrelated to the cancer.

Dr. Martinez went over a variety of different treatment options, none of course that are within affordable price range. The most logical treatment option is probably the most expensive option of surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or a course of radiation as well as monthly IV infusions to promote bone growth and reduce pain.   Or if surgery was deemed untenable, then  a less aggressive treatment of radiation and/or chemo.   

However, because the oncologist discovered the heart issues during the consult, certain tests need to be run first to determine if Hannibal’s heart can withstand anesthesia.  While not directly related to his cancer, I am going to need to raise $1200+ for cardiologist to find out whether his heart will be able to handle anesthesia because all of the potential cancer treatments except the IV infusion require anesthesia. 

And that makes heart stuff urgent as it must be done before we can determine what cancer treatment he is even eligible for. So this was more bad news and while it's not the worst possible news, it is definitely more bad than good and I really need to raise the funds for his care.  

At present the recommended course is to pursue the cardiology consultation and testing as soon as possible in order to determine what other treatments Hannibal is even eligible for.  In the meantime he also needs to start getting the IV infusions which are the only treatment option that he can go ahead and pursue without need for anesthesia.

So in the immediate future I need to raise approximately $1200.00 for the cardiologist and another approximately $900.00 for his first IV infusion treatment.  After that he will at minimum need palliative care such as continued IV infusion treatments, but may be a candidate for surgery and/or other aggressive cancer treatments dependant on the outcome of the cardiology tests.   He also needs approximately $100.00 per month on his medications, which may go up as his condition deteriorates.

How good his prognosis is, and how much good time he has left will be hard to determine until after the cardio testing, but Hannibal is my family and closest friend and I need to do anything I can to help him.  I am setting up this fundraiser in hopes to give him as much good life as I still can. He deserves so very much more.  Anything anyone can do or give to help him get his medical care will be a blessing of help that we desperately need.

This is only the beginning, once we know what is happening with his heart we will know more about what treatment will be possible and give updated estimates of treatment costs at that time.

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