new member(help) my bird has cancer!!!!!!!!!

mustlovebirds

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Jan 1, 2014
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Dear friends,
Yesterday , I got some very bad news. I have worked with animals my whole life and have faced similar decisions with other animals, but with my Bird "Fred"
it seems so much harder. Seeking wisdom and help in your forums.
Fred is a sulfercrested cockatoo.. I have had him nearly 30 years, 19 years ago, I introduced him to my hand raised blue and gold and they have lived together as best friends since. This summer he started limping... I considered it a sprain perhaps and let it go a couple of days. When it seemed to get worse off to the Vet we went. He had a small sore on the inside of his leg and was picking at it... they diagnosed him with arthritis... I do not know Freds true age, as most pet birds , he had gone through 4 or so familys before I got him. Fred picked at his leg all summer and it was a challenge with medication and interaction to get it healed , finally about a month ago it was perfectly healed and he was his normal self.
about a week ago , the day before Christmas, he developed a lump at the end of his hip bone, the size of a marble ,, it just seem to happen over night, it was under his wing, so it was only when i was petting him that I found it. I made and appt. for fri. by then it was the size of a walnut. they drew blood and took many xrays. yesterday they told me it is cancer. right now he is eating , talking and happy, he is getting pain meds , and antibiotics but they dont think he has a long time.. they dont recommend amputation , all though they feel they can get it all if they take his leg, it runs from hip to knee. I want for him not to suffer, but if there is a chance he can live with one leg, and I can buy him a year I will do that. The vet says it is unlikley I will buy him more than a couple of months... praying for a miracle.... any advise is welcome, thanks Kim
 

Mayden

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I'm just about to pop off to work, but I'll jump back on later. I just wanted to say that whicever route you chose, is perfectly fine.

Birds with one legs cope, they can live perfectly fine, they adjust to things very quickly, and he'll quickly overcome his new found disability. If that saves his life and buys him a few more months, or years, thats down to you to decide. But don't be afraid of a one legged bird, they really can live normally if you make a few adjustments to cage setups, etc :)
 

strudel

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The vet says it is unlikley I will buy him more than a couple of months...
What is the basis for his/her opinion? If the type of cancer is likely to recur or there's already a good chance that it's systemic and not localized, IMO it really isn't worth it to put him through the surgery. Although you might "buy time", that time includes the pain of surgery, the post-surgical recovery period and then a recurrence of the cancer. I'd rely on the vet. If you want or need to, I'd get a second opinion, but I trust my vets and know they want the best for my animals so if it was a good idea to do the surgery, they'd recommend it.

I'm so sorry :( Difficult decision for you to make.
 
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mustlovebirds

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I get what you are saying strudel and that is what makes the decision so hard, the vet says it wont buy him much time and he may not survive the surgery, but what if he does survive and it does get it all... although they have advised that typically when it rears its ugly head like this,,, it is already too late.... I want to give him his best chance... but I dont want him to suffer... he deserves a peaceful end... so I struggle with ,, am i doing what is best for him.... or best for me.... scared, worried and tramatized, Kim
 

strudel

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I think of it this way. The vet is a professional and they are giving an opinion based on their knowledge of physiology and experience as to what is likely. I never really doubt a professional opinion that something isn't worth trying - after all, they'd make more money from doing the operation, and selling you the medication and follow up visits. There is no reason not to give it to you "straight" when they are telling you not to pursue a particular treatment (might be suspect if they are recommending you spend lots of money).

We, as those who love the animal, want them never to be sick or to leave us, so we hope that everything can be fixed. It is important to figure out what is hope and what is likely. Unfortunately, the doctors are better placed than we are to know what is likely in relation to a particular medical problem.

Sometimes, it can't be fixed. If my professionals tell me it can't, I rely on them. When I am unsure, I get another opinion. With my dog, I had opinions from lots of vets and I was therefore sure that I had no options and she couldn't be "fixed". Even so, I still felt like there was something I could have done... It was an emotional feeling, not a rational one. Rationally, I know I couldn't.
 

crimson

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wow, that is an incredibly tough decision. to try or not to try.

Strudel makes some very good points.
at some point logic must run what we do with our animals, whether that is getting the operation or not, is only your decision to make, and not an easy one.
I am so sorry, that is not easy news to take, you must be crushed.

I have spent over $3000.00 this year alone on my birds, trying to save them, or heal them, and it has not been a good year. My point is I tried, success with most of my fids, but not with others.

Had I not seeked out treatments, vet care, etc....they all would have died.
my point is what ever decision YOU decide, you must be at peace with it, completely, knowing you made the right decision, with no regrets.
 

MomtoPercy

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Oh my word, I can't imagine your pain! Thirty years is a long time to have spent with him!

Good luck with this very hard decision! My thoughts are with you.
 

Terry57

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I am so sorry for Fred and this decision you have to make. In the end, I think you have to make the decision you can best live with. Regrets are so difficult to deal with. My thoughts & prayers are with you and Fred.
 

Anansi

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I am so sorry to hear what you and Fred are going through. The posts by both Strudel and Crimson serve to underscore the difficulty of your decision. You want to be assured that you have done everything humanly AND humanely possible to save your bird, but it's the humane part that brings about the quandary. In seeking to save him, you don't want to cause Fred any unnecessary suffering. Yet you don't want to give up on him too quickly.

I don't think there's really any "right" answer in this situation, just the sense of either vindication or regret that comes afterward through the deceptively clear lenses of hindsight or second-guessing. This is an intensely personal decision that, as Crimson implied, only you can make and with which you must be able to find peace.

That said, for what it's worth, I would base my decision on whether there is any SIGNIFICANT chance for a complete recovery with the amputation of the leg. If a later recurrence of the cancer seems a virtual certainty, and if indeed you would only be giving Fred another few months, I would seek instead to enjoy the time I had left with him, and then relieve him of his suffering.

I must add, just so I'm not being a complete hypocrite here, that I'd LIKE to believe that's what I'd do now. It's certainly not what I did two years ago when I lost my beloved cockatiel, Suzie, to kidney disease. In Suzie's last days, he (yes, he. Gender misidentification.) couldn't even stand, and I had to hand feed him his seeds for him to eat. I loved him so much that I couldn't let go, and while he remained completely loving until his last breath, (literally. He passed in my arms) I look back- with that tendency of hindsight I warned you about- and think to myself that I should not have made him suffer so.

No matter what you decide, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Fred. God bless.
 

strudel

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I don't think there's really any "right" answer in this situation, just the sense of either vindication or regret that comes afterward through the deceptively clear lenses of hindsight or second-guessing.
For myself, the hindsight and the second-guessing were still through fuzzy lenses. No matter how much you can objectively believe that you had the information and made the right decision based on that information, there's still that uncertainty. Our capacity to feel responsible for things beyond our control is infinite.

I don't think I express myself very well sometimes, anansi's post is clearer as to what I'm trying to say.

In relation to anansi's point as to whether there is any significant chance of total recovery, that's where the professionals come in. Your decision may not be "what do I decide medically?" but "do I have a real choice here as to choosing surgery over management?" Unless one of your professional advisors tells you that it is a real choice (ie that there is a real chance of successful surgery) I think we need to accept that what we'd like to see as an option really isn't. If it IS an option, then you've got to decide between the options presented.

So, what I am trying to say is, clarify what your decision is by getting the professional advice as to whether there is a real decision to be made. Your decision IS enormously difficult, but you do not need to decide between life and death, but decide whether surgery is a realistic and viable option or not - and on that one, you've got the vets to help you.
 

crimson

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you have received some good advice from these other members.

@anansi-It is one's opinion to offer advice, it is another to assume that other members do not clearly comprehend the magnitude of the OP decision that needs to be made.

we just may not convey our thoughts thru the keyboard like you do.
 
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MikeyTN

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Sorry to hear about your baby having cancer. You already received lots of advice and such so I'm not gonna add to it. I just wish you the best!!!
 

faeryphoebe1

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I'm so sorry that you're going through such a painful time with your baby. My heart goes out to you. You and Fred are in my thoughts and prayers.
 

Anansi

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@anansi-It is one's opinion to offer advice, it is another to assume that other members do not clearly comprehend the magnitude of the OP decision that needs to be made.

we just may not convey our thoughts thru the keyboard like you do.

@Crimson: It was never my intent to imply any kind of greater comprehension on my part over that of anyone else. If anything that I wrote gave such an impression, I apologize. But the truth is that I deeply empathize with Mustlovebirds' situation, and just wanted to offer my support.
 
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mustlovebirds

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Thank you all for your wisdom, I have not made a decision yet. I am enjoying time with MY Beloved Fred... for now he is happy , talking, eating and drinking, the pain meds are working and he greets me as usual everyday with " I love YOu!!! and "Fred is the best best boy!!!! it breaks my heart. I am still considering amputation, because my thought process is if I dont try I will feel later that I failed him. I know this is not rational, the Vets tell me it will not buy much time and he may not survive surgery. So for now, I will let him be happy.... and if he makes a turn for the worse, I may try surgery , I am just thinking out loud... because I am praying for a miracle.
 

TessieB

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Very sorry you are in this situation. This is a very difficult decision, and it should be. While amputating the leg will give your bird a few more months of life consider the quality of life your friend will have. Trying to adjust to a missing appendage is difficult for a large bird. While this is a decision only you can make the only advice I can give is to think if you want to do the procedure for the bird or for yourself.

Remember your bird does not know he has a deadly condition, and your emotional state is important to him. Be happy around him. You don't have to make the decision today. So long as he seems happy and comfortable you can delay your decision.

Thinking of you in this difficult time.
 

henpecked

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Thank you all for your wisdom, I have not made a decision yet. I am enjoying time with MY Beloved Fred... for now he is happy , talking, eating and drinking, the pain meds are working and he greets me as usual everyday with " I love YOu!!! and "Fred is the best best boy!!!! it breaks my heart. I am still considering amputation, because my thought process is if I dont try I will feel later that I failed him. I know this is not rational, the Vets tell me it will not buy much time and he may not survive surgery. So for now, I will let him be happy.... and if he makes a turn for the worse, I may try surgery , I am just thinking out loud... because I am praying for a miracle.
Sorry to hear of Fred's cancer.
Welcome to the forum. I just lost a longtime pet amazon to cancer, she was 38. I would suggest another opinion, most vets ,even avian vets don't deal with cancer in companion parrots. I'm not sure what part of the world you live in, however here in central Florida we have some Avian Vets who work/treat cancer in parrots. I'd suggest you contact Dr helen Lightfoot at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital. They do have several facilities around the US and can be found by goggling Blue Pearl. They also do consultations and maybe your vet could talk with them. PM me if you need more info, just my .02 worth.
 

AllenAtlanta

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Jan 24, 2024
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Dear friends,
Yesterday , I got some very bad news. I have worked with animals my whole life and have faced similar decisions with other animals, but with my Bird "Fred"
it seems so much harder. Seeking wisdom and help in your forums.
Fred is a sulfercrested cockatoo.. I have had him nearly 30 years, 19 years ago, I introduced him to my hand raised blue and gold and they have lived together as best friends since. This summer he started limping... I considered it a sprain perhaps and let it go a couple of days. When it seemed to get worse off to the Vet we went. He had a small sore on the inside of his leg and was picking at it... they diagnosed him with arthritis... I do not know Freds true age, as most pet birds , he had gone through 4 or so familys before I got him. Fred picked at his leg all summer and it was a challenge with medication and interaction to get it healed , finally about a month ago it was perfectly healed and he was his normal self.
about a week ago , the day before Christmas, he developed a lump at the end of his hip bone, the size of a marble ,, it just seem to happen over night, it was under his wing, so it was only when i was petting him that I found it. I made and appt. for fri. by then it was the size of a walnut. they drew blood and took many xrays. yesterday they told me it is cancer. right now he is eating , talking and happy, he is getting pain meds , and antibiotics but they dont think he has a long time.. they dont recommend amputation , all though they feel they can get it all if they take his leg, it runs from hip to knee. I want for him not to suffer, but if there is a chance he can live with one leg, and I can buy him a year I will do that. The vet says it is unlikley I will buy him more than a couple of months... praying for a miracle.... any advise is welcome, thanks Kim
Hi Kim,

I am sorry about your cockatoo having cancer. I have a 30 year old moluccan cockatoo named George, who started limping on her (George is a female) left leg back in early November, 2023. My aviary Vet thought it could be a strain and prescribed an anti-inflammatory for pain. Within 3 weeks a ball appeared on her left leg and was growing in size. My Vet did x-rays and aspirated some cells from the mass. The results indicated cancer. My Vet referred George to the UGA Vet Hospital Exotic Pet section. The Vets at UGA did a CT scan and a biopsy to determine the cancer cell type, which were confirmed to be an osteosarcoma cancer. The cancer was in her left leg bones and in the growing mass in her thigh muscle tissue. As with your parrot, surgical amputation of the leg is typically the first "treatment" of consideration. Like you, I did not want to subject George to a life with 1 leg. So the Vets and I decided on a monthly chemotherapy treatment with carboplatin, which had been used on a cockatoo in Australia as reported in a published research paper. After receiving the 1st carboplatin chemo threatment, the mass was still growing and was very large. George was limping badly and fell off of her perch a couple of times. So I decided to try a new cancer treatment on the tumor mass on her leg, in addition to the once a month carboplatin chemo treatment.

I retired at the beginning of 2023 from managing medical research at a large university here in Atlanta and was aware that the sodium ascorbate form of vitamin C (it's a powder that can be purchased at most health stores or online) is being extensively studied now as a cancer treatment. The sodium ascorbate is being injected in humans (IV) for internal cancers and also applied topically on the skin with liquid DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) in treatment studies on skin cancer. DMSO is a solvent that penetrates cells in the body and also bonds to and "transports" drugs and vitamin C into skin cells and all other cells in the body. DMSO (99.995% pharmacy grade) is also sold in most health food stores and online. It is being used on the legs of starlings and chickens as an anti-inflammatory. Sodium ascorbate vitamin C is the best form of vitamin C for humans, animals and birds. The vitamin C you usually buy in stores is ascorbate acid. Both are vitamin C. So at minimum, the DMSO would reduce pain from the cancer tumor in George's leg and the vitamin C would be good for her immune system.

A human clinical study of sodium ascorbate vitamin C and DMSO applied topically to basel cell carcinoma lesions on the skin was completed and published last year with outstanding results. Vitamin C is carried into healthy and cancer cells by the DMSO. The vitamin C generates hydrogen peroxide in the cells. Normal body cells secrete the hydrogen peroxide without any bad affect. Cancer cells cannot secrete the hydrogen peroxide, which damages the cancer cell DNA and the cancer cell then dies. This affect has been studied in several different cancer cell types, including osteosarcoma cells.

I made my own solution of sodium ascorbate vitamin C and DMSO in a clean glass and applied it with a syringe (without needle) onto the tumor mass on George's leg (speading with a swab) twice each day ..... 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. It has been 14 days and the tumor mass has shrunk by around 30% and is very "mushy" ...... i.e. the osteosarcoma cells in the tumor mass are dying. Published research studies have shown that osteosarcoma cells exposed to certain concentrations of sodium ascorbate vitamin C begin to die in 7 to 10 days, so at 18 days after starting treatment, we are seeing the expected "dying" of the tumor cancer cells and a "sagging" of the tumor mass. George is no longer limping on the leg ...... she is walking normally on her perch and is now perching on her left leg and is once again very active. We are all excited about these results and I am going to stop the standard carboplatin chemotherapy, which has potentially bad side affects and stay with the twice daily vitamin C and DMSO treatments, which does not have any bad side affects and takes only about 5 to 10 minutes to perform/complete.

I apologize for the long message , but I wanted to let you know that there is a new topical cancer treatment with the sodium ascorbate vitamin C and DMSO that you might discuss with your Vet.

Allen
 
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