Give Cancer The Paw – Remembering Sasha
Sahsa was the first dog to take part in the bone cancer vaccine study currently underway at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
Sasha was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, in March of 2012. The prognosis is guarded at best, and dogs who undergo treatment are usually given amputation of the effected limb and chemotherapy. They have a median survivial rate of only 1 year. Most dogs with this diagnosis die to metastases (spread) to other bones or their lungs.
When Sasha’s owners learned of her diagnosis they signed her up with Dr. Nicola Mason’s study at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The study is testing out a new experimental vaccine aimed at eliciting anti tumor immunity and prolonging the survival rates in dogs with osteosarcoma.
Sasha was the first of six dogs to receive the vaccine. “Although it is too early yet to determine whether the vaccine prolongs overall survival in patients with this highly aggressive disease, we can conclude that the vaccine appears to be safe and well tolerated. This is a very important first step,” Mason says. “Given the safety of the vaccine at the current doses used, we are extending the study and continuing to enroll patients.”
Sasha finally succumbed to the disease in March of 2014. She survived a year longer than first expected.
I’m joining the Give Cancer The Paw blog hope to pay special tribute to Sasha. It’s too early to say if this vaccine will help prolong survival rates in dogs with bone cancer, but the results are promising so far. If the results to continue to show prolonged longevity the vaccine can it might translate into helping kill human cancer cells. The HER2/neu molecule that it’s aimed at killing in dogs is the same on found in kids with Osteosarcoma and certain breast cancers.
Read all about Sasha’s journey on her owners blog, Lili’s Notes.
We are joining the Give Cancer the Paw Blog Hop, hosted by Pooch Smoochies and The Writer’s Dog. Join the hop and pay tribute to a special dog today. Give cancer the paw.
This is a Blog Hop! – See more at: http://peggyfrezon.blogspot.com/#sthash.hoajPZEI.dpuf
JoAnn Stancer says
Thank you Sasha for being part of the study. My dog Norman had osteosarcoma too and passed in November of 2013.
Jen Gabbard says
Sorry to hear about Norman, it’s a terrible, aggressive form of cancer. Hopefully the study continues to provide positive results and it can one day give a better prognosis to those who are affected.
Thank you for sharing about sweet Sasha, and thank you to Sasha for participating in that important study that will help all dogs. Cancer affects too many. I hope one day they find a cure. Thank you for joining GCtP blog hop today.
Jen Gabbard says
Cancer does indeed affect way too many. I wanted to pay tribute to her amazing owners for letting her participate in the hopes of helping those in the future who receive the same diagnosis.
Jackie Bouchard says
Thank you for joining the hop and for writing about this treatment. We lost our Abby to OSA as well, but we lost her in Jan 2012, so I hadn’t heard about this new treatment. We got 15 months with her post diagnosis. The good part was that she was a very happy, bouncy girl for most of that time. I hope they’ll see good results with his treatment!
Jen Gabbard says
Sorry to hear about Abby. 15 months is good considering the diagnosis, and I’m glad to hear she did well through most of it. Yes, hopefully the results continue to show promising results.
Kate Obrien says
Thanks for sharing Sasha’s story. SHe was diagnosed the same month as our Becca. Becca wasn’t as lucky – she wasn’t a candidate for amputation due to other orthopedic issues, so she only lived another 3 months. Glad to read about that vaccine – hope it proves out.
Carlos Ruano says
Hi Jen, and thank you for writing about Sasha. My name is Carlos, and I am Sasha’s dad. Sasha was an amazing dog, and a friend in the truest sense of the word. Liliana and I still miss her dearly, but we have many good memories of our girl. She had a great and happy life, and even in the face of the challenges presented to her by osteosarcoma, she maintained her sweet, playful and energetic disposition. Even at the very end when a tumor suddenly caused her to loose the use of her legs, she still eagerly attacked a tire swing at one of her favorite parks from when she was a puppy. I have no doubt that Dr. Mason and the vaccine allowed us to have extra precious time with Sasha. Sadly, some dogs who were enrolled in the study did not survive long enough to receive the vaccine, but those that did, are still with us. In fact, they are healthy and show no signs of metastasis. We are so happy for these dogs and their owners. We also hope that the vaccine will one day be able help humans with different types of cancer that present with HER2/neu. Thanks again for sharing.
Jen Gabbard says
Thank you so much for stopping by; Sasha’s story is so inspirational and although I didn’t know her she really did seem like such an amazing dog. I’m very thankful that you enrolled in the study – it not only seems to have provided Sasha with some extra precious time – it also gives valuable insight into the great work that’s being done on this vaccine. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story – it helps give hope to all that have been touched by this horrible disease.