About two years ago I noticed a raised bump on the outside of Scully’s back leg. It didn’t seem to bother her. I showed it to the vet at her annual visit and we decided to keep an eye on it. It never really grew or looked menacing so we did just that, kept an eye on it. One day I came home from work and it was swollen, red and she was obviously irritated by it. I called the vet that night and made an appointment. At her appointment, we met with the owner of the clinic (whom we’ve never met before) and he immediately knew.

“I’m going to take a needle to it and see what the cells are. But I’m pretty sure I know what it is.”

He was quick and very confident and when he came back into the room carrying Scully, I felt at ease, appreciating his take-charge attitude.

“It’s a mast cell.”

“A what?”

“Cancerous tumor that needs to be removed.”

So I schedule an appointment for surgery, naively thinking surgery would solve it. Actually, depending on the grade of the tumor (found out after surgery) surgery is sometimes all it takes. That was in March. By June she had another tumor show up, this time on the inside of the same leg. It was about the same size and my heart sank. I immediately scheduled another surgery. The first tumor was a low grade tumor but the Vet suggested amputation to completely rid the opportunity of it returning and most importantly, spreading. I wasn’t able to even to process that idea because it was a small bump, why such a drastic operation?

After the second tumor was removed and the pathology report came back as a low grade 2 we were referred to the University of Minnesota Oncology. They specialize in cancer and could offer various treatments our vet couldn’t. By this time another tumor popped up, a small one and I knew we needed to deal with it sooner than later. Many options were on the table from chemo to radiation, to steroid treatment to wait and see. And at the end of August, I decided to wait and see. She was healthy otherwise and showed no signs of being ill.

There weren’t any changes until about a month ago. The tiny tumor on the inside of her leg grew and she developed another tumor on her knee. It was spreading. I called the U of M to schedule a consult for treatment but they were booked solid. I couldn’t get her in until last week. By then, the growth had taken over her whole leg causing swelling and obvious pain with her constantly licking it. I left her there the day of the appointment to get the swelling under control and to perform more diagnostic tests. They did a needle aspirate of the tumor and by doing that, released fluid resulting in blood oozing out and her leg swelling up even more. This was normal.

So while my shocked face dealt with blood leaking from her leg during the consult, I had to deal with the strong suggestion of amputation. This time they meant it. There is no other way to treat it. They need to take her leg in order to keep it from spreading. With that knowledge I went home completely devastated that I didn’t take action sooner to prevent this.

Our kitchen looked like a scene from Dexter Friday night. She would walk in circles licking up blood as she dripped more. But by Sunday, the draining stopped and she’s pretty much back to normal today. She doesn’t even fight when we put the cone of shame on her. We have a surgery consult tomorrow and depending on how much it’ll cost, surgery in the near future. Pet ownership isn’t for the weak.

I’m late taking Marlo’s 6-month photos with Scully mostly because I feel guilty taking her photo with such horrible looking tumors. But at this point, they might be the last photos I take of her as a 4-legged dog. As Justin said to me Friday night “Would you rather have a 4-legged dog for only a year or a 3-legged dog for 5 more years?”

I’ll take 5 more years please.

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