Monday, April 16, 2012

CP's foster Alize and the dreaded 'C' word

Contributed by Alize's foster mom



It's one of those things that at just the thought of it,  you want to push to the back of your mind. You don't even want to say it - it's more evil than any cuss word. Cancer. And it came to terrorize us right in the excitement of whelping Carolina's puppies. Foster Alize had her spay/dental/updates the day that Carolina started showing beginning signs of labor. And when I'd dropped her off that morning, I'd mentioned to them that while they had her out, there was a funny bump on her back/left hip that I'd like for them to take a look at just in case. It was about the size of a lima bean and grey. I'd kind of blown it off thinking it was probably a reaction to a tick bite or something, and it had a scabby spot like Alize would scratch it or bite it occasionally. But when I picked her up that evening, she had a shaved spot about the size of a softball, with a puckered, ugly incision about 2.5" long in the middle of that bare area.

 It took me by surprise because of how crooked and sunken yet puckered and just so nasty looking it was - it made me hurt and my heart sank. My vet had thought it looked suspicious, had removed it and plenty of tissue surrounding it, and it was being sent in for biopsy. I wept for her when we got home and just kept telling myself it COULDN'T be - she's not even THREE years old! So we waited. Alize couldn't leave the stitches alone and had to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks until the stitches could come out. A week after her surgery, my vet called to tell me the results had come back - it was a mast cell tumor and cancerous. She'd talk to me more when she took out her stitches. There are 3 grades - grade one being the lowest, and they are usually contained and nothing further is needed. I was told grade two can go either way - it might be a one time deal, or it could re-occur or be an indication there may be cancerous cells elsewhere.

 Grade three requires aggressive treatment of chemo as the cancer is almost always in multiple places in the body, effecting major organs, the lifespan of most shortened to a few years at best. Alize was a "high" grade two, with a high mitoses rate(how fast the cancer cells can split - a 4 on a scale of 1-5). But she's not even THREE YEARS OLD! WHY?!!! My vet's office referred me to an Oncologist. Another wait for almost a week.. Wonderful office - wonderful staff - wonderful veterinarian. The walls have framed "scrapbooked" pages/pics of dogs and cats that have been patients there, with thank you's for their help in caring for them. The counters had framed pics w/word of praise. What a show of the caring nature of this office - it was a reassuring display that we were in the right place.

 Alize was on her best behavior, and she had them all wrapped around her cute, short little carrot-shaped tail . The Dr. did a full exam, especially slowly feeling all over her body for any signs of any new tumors. She was worried about a knot at the end of the incision, so she wanted to draw some it out via needle to check for cancerous cells as Alize's type can rapidly re-appear at the same site, but also all over her body. Her plan of action was to do an ultrasound of her belly to look at her groin lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. If any of those looked abnormal, she'd do a needle aspiration of tissue to see if there were cancer cells. She needed a platelet count in case of needing to do the aspiration, so blood was drawn first. I approved her plan, and she left with little Alize trotting down the hall beside her, tail wagging. The 30-45 minute wait started. Thankfully my last Auntie left had gone with me, and we tried to find other things to talk about while we sat. A tech came out with Alize trotting right along side of her - told me she'd been giving kisses to them all in back, and she'd been a great patient. They'd given her a couple of treats because of her excellent behavior (I gave her a couple more I'd stuck in my pocket since she'd had nothing to eat/drink since midnight.) The Dr. would be out shortly.

 She came out with great news - the sample drawn from the knot at her incision was only blood/fluid still not absorbed from her initial surgery - no cancerous cells. And the ultrasound showed her liver, spleen, and lymph nodes normal! She was worried about the "clear margin" taken when the tumor was initially removed, and she was going to contact the pathologist in that lab and ask for actual measurements to make sure there had been enough tissue removed around the tumor to ensure that all it's "feelers" it sends out from the mass had been removed. So she might have to have another surgery to take more tissue from the site.

 But she said for right now she felt it safe to say that Alize was cancer free and ready for adoption. Her new family will have to be vigilant about feeling/checking for any signs of new growth, and if any lumps are found, they'll need to be biopsied immediately as she's at a pretty high risk for a re-occurrence. And it's such a blessing this girl wasn't pregnant as first thought, or all this probably wouldn't have been done for a couple of months until the puppies would have been weaned and she was ready for a spay. It probably would have spread to other places by that time, and we'd be looking at a very sad prognosis for this girl. I got a call from her this afternoon letting me know she'd spoken with the pathologist, and the margins my vet took around the tumor were HUGE, well beyond the measurements needing to be safe. So Alize, for now, is a healthy girl, ready for her Forever family to find her and adopt her. We can now celebrate a HAPPY birthday for her on the 19th! Next time I see my Dr. Stuart, she's getting a big hug.   I've got to torture - I mean groom her - and get some good pics of this cute little thing.  She has the best little shaped 14# body, great coat, and the best, short little naturally carrot-shaped tail of any Cairn I've ever had here. I've attached the best pic I've got of her so far.

 She's let it be known that she's an alpha  and would do best in a home with previous terrier experience. Probably easiest in a home as an only dog or with a mellow male that will let her be the boss. When she first met our pack almost 2 weeks after being here (because she wasn't vetted/she was supposed to be pregnant), it was one of the wildest introductions we'd ever had. Some of the kids she'd knock to the ground in a split second and be on top of them giving them her rules. Some fought back and we'd have to end the conversation by taking her out of it. Little mill momma Sitka waltzed right up to her face, must have told her something, took another step back and smelled her, and walked off.  We had to watch/listen to her constantly the first week or so, and at her first nasty word, she'd get time out. Harnesses sure make a great handle for taking a dog right up/off their feet! She's been a little scrapper, for sure. She has found her niche in the pack now and is getting along much better in our pack, but she has her moments that someone looks at her wrong and she explodes and gets a time out. At the vet's offices, she's wanted to take on every dog in sight, no matter how small or LARGE!

 I've had looks thrown at us because of her outbreaks of wild behavior - it's all that big dog attitude in a little dog's body, and she's got a sailor's mouth that rivals the best of them! LOL She loves to play with the 2 yr. old Norrie brothers, chasing and wrestling, and she also loves her foster daddy, spending hours in his lap in the evening if she's allowed. With more everyday lessons on how to be a good dog, she'll learn to be a great little girl for someone, despite having a bit of a 'ttude. And you can't NOT think about how this would have turned out had Col. Potter not rescued this girl. This cancer would have progressed quickly, turning into a grade 3, and she wouldn't have had a chance at seeing her fourth birthday, as dogs with a grade 3 have a 10% chance at living another year. Fate and Destiny knew where she needed to be. Please visit our website to learn more about her. She is being fostered in Missouri.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear Alize is cancer-free! She's such a cutie and she shares my birthday. Kisses and gentle pets to Alize for her birthday from me.
Robin (AUPoohBear) and Mishy at the Rainbow Bridge watching out for Alize making sure the world has another Cairn Queen!