It’s a Lab Thing knows that Cancer in Labradors is quickly becoming an unfortunate common occurrence. We are following Mason’s Story of Losing a Leg & Battling Cancer and how his Momma is getting through the process.

Chemo Begins

Mason’s had 2 of his 5 treatments (5 rounds of 3 treatments 15 total) thus far (and has now had all 3 of the drugs in his protocol) and you would never know it. Mason is having the VAC (vincristine, Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide) protocol as recommended by his oncologist.

It's a Lab Thing Mason Labrador Cancer Fighter

We dropped him off last Thursday for his first treatment and he stayed all day for his Adriamycin and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). I was prepared. I had all the drugs ready. Cerenia for nausea? Check. Metronidazole for diarrhea? Check. Mirtazapine for extra nausea/ inappetence? Check. They said that side effects could show up in 3-7 days. We watched. We waited. Nothing!

Ok, so to be fair, we did have some days where Mason was a little pickier eater, but I’m pretty sure that’s because he now knows that if he stares at his kibble and then looks at me, he gets canned food on top. YUM! He’s a pro at working his Lab mom for the good stuff.


Mason’s oncologist called to check on him and I could do nothing but sing his (and his alternative medicine vet’s) praises. He’s playing ball in the yard just like always! He’s eating! He’s happy!

“That’s why we do this,” he said. I couldn’t agree more. I’m so happy I am doing chemo for Mase. Giving him 12-18 extra months is worth every penny.

Cancer Camaraderie

The other great thing about this process has been the camaraderie. While waiting in the lobby, nervous as heck before his first treatment, I met a retired surgical oncologist (human doctor ;)) who’s dog is undergoing chemo for lymphoma. We chatted about the studies we had read, alternative medicine we were trying, and just the chemo process in general. Most people are so encouraging and understanding and it’s wonderful.

Ignoring Others and Sticking to the Game Plan

I have also heard the opposite. I’ve had people tell me “I can’t believe you are putting a 12 year old dog through that.” They must not understand. Why should I give up on my baby because he is a senior Labrador. Age isn’t a disease. That’s ridiculous! They also probably don’t understand how much easier this process is for dogs than people in some cases. I look at this as an opportunity to educate these people. Hopefully then, they’ll know not to make those comments to someone else in the future. Its really not helpful at best, and can be hurtful to someone who’s honestly trying to do the best thing for their furkid.

I know we still have a long way to go, but I’m just happy to be able to report some good news, and I hope that this will encourage people to consider chemo when its offered to them for their pets. It may not be the right choice for everyone, but it was definitely the right choice for Mason and our family.


[confirmation]Dr. Erin Hernandez Horner, DVM graduated from the University of Georgia in 2004 and then went on to obtain her DVM in 2008. She is currently an associate veterinarian at Brookhaven Animal Hospital[/confirmation] [line-sep]


65 Responses

  1. Sammy Lawrence

    Aww he is Gorgeous I’ve a 2 year old black lab Harley he is my pride joy hope u and ur mama gets well soon Masson xx

  2. Anne Heyes

    I would not put through a dog with this poisonous drug – not for humans either – you cant explain to a dog why he feels sick and why his fur is falling out – a cruel thing really

  3. Linda Coyne

    My black Lab, Brandy, had a bone cancer of one leg. By the time it manifested itself where we could detect a lump, she was already much older and we had to make a decision as to quality of life or quantity of life. We decided to go with quality of life only because she was already 11 years old and we were afraid that she wouldn’t be able to function well if her leg was amputated. She lived to the age of 13, and was happy and free of any pain. She died peacefully in her sleep. I miss her terribly. She was such a sweet girl. Love you Brandy!

  4. Chrissie Blackwell

    Ruby my golden retriever had cancer at the young age of 18 months Cambridge veterinary collage operated on her and it was hard for her but I am proud to say my wonderful girl is fit and well and 5 years old next week

  5. Sue Meddaugh

    I’m so happy to hear that Mason is doing so well! Our dogs are family and we do whatever we can to keep them healthy and with us as long as possible. I can’t imagine my life without my boy Toby!!

  6. Erin Hernandez Horner

    I would encourage you to read the article. He’s not sick nor do dog lose their hair from chemo. This education is what we’re trying to accomplish with these articles. It is a common misconception that chemo in dogs is like chemo in humans.

  7. Gloria Bond

    I adore dogs, well all animals, but I do question whether it is good to put an animal through the distressing chemo therapy, its bad enough when it can be explained to a human.. that awful sickness, not eating and feeling like death… do dogs cope ok with this??

  8. Dasiydoo

    Thinking positive thoughts for you here in England Mason – Keep fighting this illness xxxxx

  9. Erin Hernandez Horner

    Hey Gloria, I would encourage you to read the article. We haven’t seen any side effects, no sickness at all. He’s eating great and feels great. In writing these articles, I’m hoping to educate people that chemo in dogs isn’t like chemo in humans. We strive for quality of life, always.

  10. Anne Heyes

    I didnt read the article because i figured it was about hurting the dog —-hear too much of that these days

  11. Andrea Ray

    Erin, thank you so much for the thoughtful article and your responses here. I hope Mason continues to feel terrific! Best to both of you.

  12. Erin Hernandez Horner

    I wouldn’t want to read about that either! Not at all, the article is about how amazing this has been and how wonderful he is doing. We’re actually taking him to the beach in his spiffy new lifejacket this weekend.

  13. Gloria Bond

    Thank you very much for explaining that Erin, very grateful makes me feel much better about chemo and animals… 🙂

  14. Stacie Spindler

    We lost our Furkid, Max a year ago to Lymphoma. We decided to do chemo and gave us another good year. We were also worried he would suffer with the chemo, but he did great – eating, running, playing, wagging (all the important ‘ings’). Our hearts go out to you, enjoy this precious time with Mason.

  15. Chrisie Atha

    What do you do when you simply can’t afford the treatments? I’m afraid we might be looking at this issue. She has a lump on her fanny that has me worried. It’s not growing, but it’s not going away, either. Her appt is at the end of the month.

  16. Susan Parr Eng

    Many of the soft, pliable lumps in labs are non cancerous fat lumps. I’ve felt both kinds in my labs over the years. Cancer lumps typically are hard and fast growing.

  17. Ellen Farnham

    We started Chemo on our recued 6 year old with lymphoma in Feb. Actually she is 7 today which we thought we would never see. She tolerated the chemo very well and went into remission quickly. She is almost to the end of her treatment now and we are looking forward to more happy birthdays with her. Happy birthday, Coco.

  18. Michele Green

    Love and prayers. We have 4 labs – love personified. Your beautiful boy has many two-leggeds praying for his recovery. Sometimes I think they think there’s something wrong with US when we fret over their sicknesses. Talk about their gift to us of selfless love…..

  19. Erin Hernandez Horner

    There are many options for help such as Labrador Lifeline and LaBMED, which offer grant money to Labs in need. You can also inquire about care credit, which can help you space out bills. Or pet insurance is great to head off having to make decisions based on finances as well.

  20. Nancy Miller Bechtel

    We lost a black lab at 7 to cancer, we had the option of chemo, but were told about all the bad side effects. Before we found out it was inoperable, we were told to change to grain free dog food. The place where we buy the dog food gave us a card of a lady who does animal acupuncture and Chinese medicine. We had already decide chemo was out because they couldn’t tell us any kind of odd if it would work, what his quality of life would be, it was a 2 hour one way trip three times a week both of us work full time, and was expensive. We met up with Patty, she gave him a full exam read his reports, and started working on him. Tucker lived another 10 months after she started treated him. He was playing ball the morning he passed away, his tumor burst and he bleed internally to death. He had no paid, no sickness, you would not know there was anything wrong with him.. she is a wonderful person and now friend. She treats many animals, not just dogs, and not just for cancers. If you would like information, send me a private message and I will give you the information. Good luck with Mason

  21. Sue Ann Bauers

    Good Luck Mason. We too have a lab who is undergoing chemotherapy for Lymphoma. She is in week 9 of her 19 week regiment and is doing just great! Her name is Pearl and she will be only 5 in June. She was born on the first day of summer and we felt she deserved a chance to enjoy another fun filled summer which she enjoys so much. We also researched chemo protocols and the side affects and expected outcome heavlly before we decided to go ahead with the treatments. I was prepared for the nausea, vomitting and diarrhea side affects, but they never came. Pearl has already been swimming this spring and can’t wait to spend the weekends at our summer cabin. We too faced a 4 hr drive one-way to the Veterinary hospital in Madison, WI. But here, again we did our research before choosing the right Oncology hospital. They are so accomodating to our needs and are working directly with our local vet. They mail most of the weekly chemo protocol drugs to our local vet for administering and the local vet also does the weekly CBC tests and faxes them to the oncology dept. in Madison. We only have to make that long trip to Madison once every 5 weeks. Both vets are in constant communicatoin on the care of our dear Pearl. I can only suggest that you look for an cocology clinic that is flexible like ouors is.