Some of the most difficult decisions that families face concern cancer. Sue and Phil already know that their velvety-brown 10-year-old Doberman, Rolo (named after the eponymous chocolates) has a confirmed tumour in the humerus bone near his shoulder, resulting in a limp and excruciating pain.
Referred to Fitzpatricks for specialist treatment, CT scans and x-ray images confirm the aggressive bone tumour, an osteosarcoma, which has led to destruction of the bone architecture.
One option is a full limb amputation, but another could potentially save Rolo’s leg by cutting out the affected part of the bone and replacing it with a unique implant of Noel’s own invention, a scapulo-humeral endoprosthesis. Noel is the only surgeon in the world manufacturing and using this implant. His cancer can’t be cured, because by the time of diagnosis it had already spread at a cellular level, for which chemotherapy will be given, but it could mean that he may live out the rest of his life on four legs.
“Rolo’s family elected for a big operation even though they knew the cancer would shorten his life” says Noel. “We go through the ethics process, and together we try to do what’s in his best interests, because it isn’t just about quantity of life, it’s about quality of life.
Together we try to do what’s in Rolo's best interests, because it isn’t just about quantity of life, it’s about quality of life.