Hey folks, Buddy here. Wow, crazy week around this place. It started out just normal and fine the way I like it. Then on Tuesday I was out front doing the “roll of joy” (see below for photo of me doing it in camp last summer) and Mom was doing the proper “adoration of Buddy” when her giggles suddenly stopped. I wondered if maybe I had done the dreaded “poom of joy???” but no, it was still all clear around us so what’s up? Then she started talking all nice again so I guessed all was good but boy did I get a GREAT massage then! I’ll let ya look at my roll of joy while she passes along a few words about what she learned…
Thanks Buddy, Carol here… We have been on this journey with Buddy for 2 years now. We watch him faithfully for new growths. He has had over 12 cancerous growths removed, but only the last Mast cell tumor was removed without clean margins. That means the tumor was not fully contained and some cells had escaped. We became more vigilant. For those of you fighting the battle, or those of you who may have it ahead of you, it is helpful to keep a list of growths you find and note their precise location and size and texture, and date you find them. Take the emotion out of it and keep facts. These are important to share with your vet, not frightened hysterical “ohmygawdIfoundalumpthesizeoftexas” calls. This information will help you help your pet, it will also keep you focused which will keep you calmer.
Lumps, let’s talk about lumps. I am not a vet. I am not an expert. I HAVE gone through this more times than average, though and learned a lot and I want to pass along what I have learned because I have been blessed with some docs who treat me as a colleague and teach me instead of talk at me. If the lump is soft, squishy, will move around and is not attached to something; that is usually a good sign. Hard and attached to something, not so good. Lumps on the skin: white are usually better (lots of warty things, called “skin tags”) black: get it checked out. The cauliflower ones can go either way. Red bumps on skin: check ’em out. Bleeding bumps on skin, oozing bumps: check ’em out.
Let’s talk about the vet. If the doc talks at you rather than with you, find a new one. If they are willing to settle with “your pet has cancer, good-bye now” move on. You CAN do better. There are choices in treatment. Our personal choice was not to do chemo but to go with the best quality of life for Buddy as long as he can have it. That’s what “being the dog” is all about. It’s not about “being MY dog” but that’s our choice. There are meds, though, that he can take to slow the process and keep him very comfortable. I think you can tell from his posts that he leads an extremely comfortable life… There are resources online to help you find a doctor in your area who treats pets with cancer. I will post some links to help you find them. DON’T SETTLE. You can also consult oncologists online.
Let’s talk about making an appointment once you have found a good doc. Once again, it is all about your pet. I learned after a while that you find a lump, you watch it for a while. You see how fast it grows. Cancer grows very fast. Lypomas (fatty tumors) typically do not. You consider location. Some locations, the mass cannot afford to grow much because if they have to remove it they cannot take much area around it to get clean margins without compromising your pet (paw, jaw, chest, etc.) so you may call sooner. At any rate, you have decided to call and evaluate a growth. If you just call for “an appointment” you get the quick visit scheduled. If the doc thinks it needs more study, you have to come back to have it aspirated (a needle inserted to remove some cells to examine them to see if they are cancerous) or have x-rays or a sonogram done. Your pet now has to have 2 visits to the vet. More trauma. So, when you call you very politely explain to the person making the appointment that you want to bring your pet in to have a mass evaluated. You understand that it will be the doctor making the decision but you would like to schedule an appointment long enough to allow for x-rays or to do an aspiration. This is not a question, this is a statement. They will do it, trust me and you all end up getting everything done with much less stress and hassle.
The pet exam: Another thing I just learned. So I check Buddy all the time. I remind everyone on his Facebook page to do it on the 14th of every month. When Buddy rolled over the other day and I was rubbing his belly, I was shocked. There in deep, just above his penis was a golf ball size mass. I am being blunt here, because I must admit when I check him I kind of don’t go there if you know what I mean. This was big and well-formed. I was sick. How had I missed this? It was deep is how. I had to palpate in deep like a doctor does when they feel for your spleen or liver. I started doing this all over him and found another golf ball hiding in among his ribs. There was another up in deep on his left groin. His abdomen was full. Of course I thought the worst. They seemed softish to me, but his abdomen was full for goodness sake. I made the appointment and we went in and we did x-rays too. I learned that a 9 year old Golden can quite typically start growing these fatty tumors and can grow as many as 10 or 15! We were lucky this time, and I want you to know that too. No matter how dark it looks… you can go in and get good news, so don’t despair until given the worst news. Even then, live each day because your dog does not know what cancer is… they are just “being the dog” just like yesterday after all and it is the best gift you can give them to let them continue.
OK, Buddy here, so can I finish. Sheesh, I give her my blog and she just goes to town. I don’t know what all the hoopla was about, but the best part was after the trip to the vet… We went to get PUPCAKES!!!! That is the most important part about “being the dog.” Oh sure, it’s important to eat right when you have cancer and all, but you know what? It’s ok to take a break once in a while and just let it all go and celebrate. The pupcake didn’t kill me, and I think it even did Mom some good too… Go out there and enjoy every day folks! Start today… go out there and have a pawsitively BUDDY day!! ::
**If you are seeking a vet in your town who can help your pet, don’t be afraid to call each office and ask specifically if they have someone who is familiar with pets with cancer. Sometimes this will be mentioned on their website. If you are having trouble finding good information, try contacting these resources… they may know of doctors near you that have worked with cancer patients.