Sunday, August 18, 2013

Round Two: Jake's battle with a mast cell tumor

Jake, my 8 year old Pit Bull/Mastiff cross developed a small, squishy lump on his right hind leg, that swelled up and became quite noticeable when we took him camping. When we got home, I took him to the clinic and went through the same fine needle aspirate procedure as I had with Granger back in March. I submitted the slide to the lab for analysis, and waited for the results.

Two days later, I sat with my morning coffee, checking emails, including a cheery one from my boss, about an upcoming conference I'm attending...with a note at the end asking if I wanted her to take Jake's lump off.

My mind buzzed as I opened up Idexx VetConnect to view the lab results and I could barely focus on the words mast cell tumor before I burst into tears, which quickly led to muffled sobbing (Eric was still asleep after working late). I was a bit surprised by my reaction. Plenty of dogs have mast cell tumors removed, and go on to lead normal, healthy lives. Why did this hurt so badly?

It wasn't just that Jake was my own dog, my Tigey-Tige, my running buddy, the dog who helped me "start over" when my life got turned upside down. That alone was like a punch in the gut, but normally doctor mode takes over and I just focus on fixing the problem. I thought about it, and realized I took it personally, both as Jake's mummy and as Jake's doctor. Unlike my "own" two dogs, Jake was owned by Eric first. I never make medical decisions for Jake without informing Eric first, treating him like a client who ultimately gets to decide how to treat "his" dog. So I was feeling the double whammy of "failing" Jake, personally and professionally. Of course, I didn't fail him at all. There wasn't anything I did, or didn't do, to cause this. The reason I found the mass, and found one in Granger less than six months ago, is that I don't ignore the little things. I didn't brush off his mass as "nothing"; instead, I took the right steps in diagnostics and treatment to give Jake the best chance at a cure.

Jake is lucky to have me for his mummy AND his vet.

Jake's tumor was completely excised, and classified as a low grade two. His bloodwork was perfect, and he is booked for an ultrasound as an added precaution.