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03 September 2009 @ 05:57 pm
Cancerous Mass Cell Tumors - Need Advice  

Hey guys,


I’ve been on the board for years and lurk, rarely posting so allow me to do a very quick into and then I really need your advice. We are owned by two Boston’s, Kiwi and Turbo. Kiwi is 10 and has been with me all her life. Turbo is just coming up on two and is a rescue that we adopted a little over a year ago. We are fanatical about the breed and love the two we have like crazy.


Sorry for the long story but all of its important and I’m desperate for help.

Both Boston’s sleep with us (of course) and Tuesday morning at about 4:30 am Kiwi woke me up shaking at the foot of the bed. I sat up to check on her and thought maybe she was just cold so I picked her up and put her next to my pillow so I could snuggle with her and get her warm. As I’m fixing the blankets she threw up. She threw up solid kibble, probably from her midnight snack run, and frothy spit stuff. I cleaned it up and took her outside where she did her business and when she pooped it was solid water. I took her back in where she curled up with her Dad and I went back outside with a flashlight to make sure there was no blood or anything alarming in what had come out. I also did a search of the house and looked at her food dish and everything seemed to be fine. I went back to bed and asked Troy if she had stopped shaking and he told me a little. We all went back to sleep and about 6:30 she woke me up again, this time she was sitting at the foot of the bed panting and shaking. By this time I’m freaking out because I know something is wrong. I get up, am getting dressed and am on the phone with the vet making an appointment and she throws up three huge piles of semi digested food. My vet tells me that to bring her in and she’ll take a look at her.


I get her to the vet and they are checking her over and they asked about a spot on her foot and one on her back. Many years ago Kiwi developed this lump on her paw in between her middle toes. The vet at the time told us that it was an inter digital cyst and that he could remove it, but that it would come back and he recommended that  if it wasn’t bothering her and it wasn’t affecting the structure of the bones in her foot to just leave it alone. It looks pretty weird, but we love her anyway. She is lumpy but we’ve never found a lump that was anything to worry about. Anyway, the vet decides to keep her, put her on an IV and do x-rays to make sure there was no blockage anywhere. A little later I get a call and the vet asks me if Kiwi is intact (not spayed) ad I tell her yes. She tells me that Kiwi’s uterus is swollen and they think she has pyometra and she wants to do an ultrasound to be for certain and that if that’s what it is Kiwi will have to go into emergency surgery. Not having Kiwi spayed I of course know the risks of pyometra and tell them to do whatever they need to do. 


A few hours later I get another call that the ultrasound showed that her uterus was fine, but that now they have noticed that she has several suspicious spots in her liver. They also had aspirated a spot on her back and the one on her foot and were concerned about the cells in them and were going to send them off to have them analyzed. This is when cancer was mentioned for the first time.


We stopped by the vets office last night to see Kiwi and take her a blanket and she was remarkably better. Back to her old spit fire, I own the world ways so we were feeling good about things. I called at noon yesterday and she had not thrown up during the night so they said I could come get her at the end of the day. All of her blood work was normal and they really had no idea why she had been sick the day before. They wanted to keep her on the IV just to be safe, which was fine. $890 later and a very happy, head out the window, loving life car ride home she’s playing bitey face with Turbs and life is good.


This morning the vet calls and the pathology reports came back and the spot on her back is a confirmed cancerous mass cell tumor and the one on her foot was inconclusive. Couple that with the weird spots they found in her liver and the vet is concerned that the cancer has spread throughout her body. She wants to remove both places and have the one on her foot sent off for further analysis and aspirate her liver. It was also discussed that if I had her spayed they could go in and physically look at the liver and get a sample that way and that would tell us conclusively if the cancer has spread and they could aspirate her spleen at the same time. This is where I need advice and help.


First let me say that Kiwi’s health is my top priority. I love this dog more than I love most people. The money doesn’t concern me, I just want her to be happy, healthy and have a good quality of life. Happiness to me is seeing her run full force in the back yard chasing Turbo or laying on the deck in the sun just being a dog, being happy. That’s all I want for her. Despite being 10 her energy level is still high and she runs Turbo so she’s in great shape. Until this week there’s never been any indicating that anything was wrong with her. 


I know the spot on her back has to come off and the spot on her foot needs to come off so they can test that more. I’m totally fine with that and want that. I’m hitting a wall with what to do about her liver and the testing that needs to be done with it and Troy and I are divided. This morning my answer was let’s get her in, remove the spots, spay her, get the liver sample and let’s see what we are up against, but the more I talk to Troy and the more I think about it I don’t know if that’s the best choice.


Troy thinks that with her being ten years old that there’s no need in having her spayed at this point that it would be too invasive. He said let them cut the spots out and aspirate the liver and see if it’s anything we need to worry about it. If it comes back that it is cancer then spaying her doesn’t mean a heck of a whole lot. 


I don’t know what to do. My emotion is totally clouding what I feel is any good sense I might have on this matter. I want to do the right thing and be aggressive in figuring out what’s going on, but I don’t want to pass that line of impacting her quality of life and putting her into unnecessary pain. I just want her to be happy and pain free. 


Has anyone else had to deal with anything like this before? What did you do? Any recommendations or things to consider that we’ve over looked? 


Since no one likes posts without pictures, here’s a picture taken several weeks ago of Kiwi after a trip to the river and some playing in the sand. You can see the one spot on her foot in this picture as well.



Thanks for any insight or advice you can give. I know if there’s anyone that will understand and be able to really sympathize with this it’s you guys. 

I am feeling: worriedworried
Mirandasakkebomb on September 3rd, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Hugs!!!! Poor Kiwi! I pray everything works out! I know how you feel though, my little Oliver is my life and whenever he feels icky, I get freaked out. I can't say I've experienced anything like this, but I think I would be nervous spaying her. Will they have to put her under anesthesia for removing the tumors and aspirating the liver?
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 4th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
I've had a very bad experience with spaying so it makes me extremly nervous as well.

According to the vet they would put her under for the removal of the tumors and they would just go ahead and aspirate her liver then as well. That makes me nervous. She's never been put under before.
stageiistageii on September 3rd, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
My guys are both ten-year-olds and getting grizzly around the flanks, but they are still full of piss and vinegar and bumping me with tennis balls every time I turn around. I am tentatively waiting to experience what you are going through. If I were in your position, even as financially strapped as I am, I would have the surgery done. If it turns out that there is no metastasis, then you know for sure and unnecessary organs that offer an abundance of opportunity for carcinogens to park themselves have been removed. If test results show otherwise, you can offer your sweet Kiwi the best of her available time. May the Deities bless you and your loved ones.

*Sending you positive karma and strength*
Glorious kind and always on timeuberjackalope on September 3rd, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
If it turns out that there is no metastasis, then you know for sure and unnecessary organs that offer an abundance of opportunity for carcinogens to park themselves have been removed.

This was basically my thinking, too--I'd do the surgery assuming it wasn't going to present any unnecessary complications, especially if it was what the vet recommended (and you trust your vet). If it will get you answers more quickly and/or prevent any other cancers from springing up later, it seems to make the most sense.

I'm sending positive thoughts your way--there's nothing worse than seeing a family member, canine or other, suffer. I hope you're able to find out what's wrong and make the best decisions you can for Kiwi!
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 4th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
My immediate reaction is to do the surgery and know for sure and do whatever it takes, but I can't help but feel that reaction is also selfish. If I found out that the cancer had spread in her body I would not subject her to chemo. She wouldn't know she had cancer she would just know she wants to be at home lounging in the sun, beating up on her little brother or taking a car ride with her head out the window. I would want her last days to be as normal and filled with love as they are now. She doesn't know she's sick. She knows she has a great life and is very loved by many people. None of the answers I come up with feel right. Blah.
Sburkesburke on September 3rd, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
I'm with you as well - I would do anything for Miss Lucy. I think I would do the surgery - then you can find out for sure and spaying is very routine.
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 4th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I've had a very bad exeprience with spaying so that makes me nervous but at the end of the day I just want what's best for her and what will keep her overall quality of life at it's best.
winddancer55945: Mona and Jaxwinddancer55945 on September 3rd, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
My boy Jax has had mast cell tumors. He also has a skin cancer. We have had the tumors removed from his skin and have had him on steroids once in awhile. He is 3 years into the diagnosis of skin cancer and 2 years into the mast cell tumors and continues to do remarkably well. He does need some extra care as he gets fatigued and stressed easily but at 11, it could also be his age. I have taken him into the clinic for IV hydration and other comfort type measures. Right now we can feel more tumors on him, but they are very small and are not appearing to be growing.

My goal with him is to make his life as good as possible. I do not think dogs view life as we do, and he does not know he is ill. He only knows that he is happy and painfree. Life is good if he has a good bone and he can chase the cats. If a tumor is bothering him, then I will probably have it removed. But at this point, I don't think I would do anything really invasive. And I will not put him through chemo. Earlier this spring I had Jax in for hydration. I chose not to do the blood work because I know I would not treat internal organ involvement.

So my advice to you is if you do the testing, what are you going to do with the results? Will you put her through more surgeries, more tests, chemo? I am not talking about the money, but of her quality of life. If you do these things, will you improve it? Will you gain more time with her? And if you gain more time, at what cost is it to her? These are questions that do not have a correct answer. You have to answer what is best for your dog and you. What is right for my dog and I may not be right for you.

Also, be aggressive with asking the vet detailed questions about risks, benefits and costs. Unfortunately some individuals go into small animal practice to make big paychecks from people who love their dogs and will do anything for them. Those individuals are motivated by the profit and not is what is best for your dog. I know because I had two years of pre vet and have a good relationship with both of my vets and their staff. We talk, a lot.

I wish you good luck. And I hope that your dog is OK.
vix: paw in the Bowl Cam from Puppy Bowl 2006vix on September 4th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
Have to say that I really appreciate this opinion; I share it as well though I'm currently dogless. If my 10yo cat developed cancerous masses I would likely go the same sort of route.

It makes a huge difference when you can't explain to them in understandable terms why you're doing what you're doing to them, why the strange people are poking sharp things at them, why Mommy/Daddy isn't staying with them while the strange people poke at them. And that colors a lot of my decisionmaking as well. I don't think it is cruel to try to see it from the pet's perspective; we already give our pets so much longer lives than they likely would have enjoyed a century ago, but that doesn't mean we need to prolong their lives indefinitely at any and all medical cost. At some point quality-of-life becomes an issue no matter how old the pet gets.

So thank you for this comment, even though I'm essentially a lurker on this entry!
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 4th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you both for your honest opinions. This is exactly what I was looking for.

If I did all the tests and found out that the cancer has spread through her little body I would not do chemo. If her time with us is going to be cut short I want her to live it to the fullest and not be burdened by poking and proding and medicines that will make her feel bad. After thinking about it last night the part of me that really wants to do the tests and wants to know is the selfish part of me that just wants to hang onto her as long as I can. The part of me that loves her for being her says what does it matter? She's got a great life, she's happy, she's not in pain so let her be. It's like that old cartoon where the guy has the devil on one shoulder and the angle on the other. I feel like that. It's hard to remove the selfish thoughts of what's best for me and the controling thoughts of wanting to know and wanting to fix everything and objectivly think about what really is best for her and her quality of life.

If I step back and I really think about things with her best interest in mind I think having the masses she has removed and forgetting the rest is the best option. Like Jax, Kiwi doesn't know she's sick. She runs and plays and loves life. I don't want to take that away from her and when and if the time comes that she's in pain or things are more serious we manage those things then.

winddancer55945 was right. None of these questions have a correct answer and that just flat out sucks.
Genevieve: clementine's chinalwaysgenevieve on September 4th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
Very scary about Kiwi.

I want to first say that picture is INSANE. Sooooooooooooo cute! She looks like she is two!!! not 10!

i would do all the surgeries they are suggesting just to be safe.

what was the reason you never spayed her?
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 4th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you. That is one of my favorite pictures of her. She had so much fun that day and was so filthy. She has the energy of a much younger Boston and has just now started to get gray on her face. She’s in great shape and everyone who meets her is amazed that she’s 10.

I didn’t spay Kiwi for selfish reasons. Before Kiwi came into my life I had a female Boston named Weezie. I literally owe my life to Weezie. At the time I was in a very physically and mentally abusive relationship. There were many nights when I would get beat and my ex husband would leave and it was Weezie who was there to comfort me. One particularly bad night my ex-husband was in a rage, worse than normal, and had been beating on me pretty heavy and he started to choke me and in my head I thought I was going to die. Weezie went psycho and started growling and barking and took a stance I had never seen in her before. My ex-husband stopped, focused his attention on her and was yelling at her and telling her to go away, but she put herself between my ex-husband and myself and wouldn’t’ let him near me again. He looked at me and told me that I had better get my dog under control and he left. She sat watching the front door and it was that night that I packed up my car with the essentials and I left and never looked back.

I moved back to my home town and sometime later I took Weez in to be spayed and went on to work like normal. Early afternoon I get a call that something is wrong and I need to come right away. When I got to the vets office an hour later Weezie was on life support. The vet had taken her into pre-op and later we found out that she had a reaction to the anesthesia that he had used and her lungs stopped working. She had been on life support for several hours and I finally made the very hard decision to take her off and let her go. I sat in the middle of the floor in my vets office holding her until her heart stopped. It sounds corny, but a piece of me died with her that day. If people could have a soul mate in a dog Weezie was mine.

About a year, year and a half after Weez passed away I decided to open my heart up again and I contacted a breeder and got Kiwi. I could never bring myself to spay her because of what happened with Weez. Because I made that choice I educated myself about the risks and have been very careful with her. She’s never been pregnant and if I think anything is wrong I take her to vet. I don’t chance it, not that that justifies my choice. It’s selfish and I know it’s irresponsible on a level, but it’s the choice I made and to be honest one that I sort of regret now.

Sorry my answer was so long. :)
Genevieve: lulu angelalwaysgenevieve on September 4th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
that made me cry :*(

That is so horrible and sad about Weezie.

I don't think you are selfish at all. What happened to her is traumatizing and I wouldn't have spayed Kiwi either.

What you said about a piece of you died that day with her is not corny at all.

I had a boston named Lulu Belle that died 2 weeks after her 2nd birthday from kidney failure. It was the WORST thing that has ever happened to me. It sounds insane because I have lost quite a few family members but her death was definately the hardest for me to handle.

I am still not over it and I even have her 1/2 sister who i love to death.

So what did you do decide to do for Kiwi? Im sorry you are going through this and I am so sad about Weezie now.
Wanda Richelieu of Re Duh, O Ran Gie, and Yelloshortdariwanda on September 4th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
I wanted to cheer you up with a drawing of your picture.

I've never had to experience what you're going through. All I can offer is my prayers and I'm sure whatever decision you choose, as long as Kiwi has you, she will support you 100%.
Michele Schlakemicheleritchie on September 5th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
This picture made me laugh and cry at the same time and most certainly made me feel better. I LOVE IT!!!!!! You captured Princess Kiwi perfectly. :) Thank you so much for bringing a smile to my face in what has been a very tough week. You are amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

The Girl in the Self Imposed Boxelisabat on September 5th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
As an experienced vet tech, my recommendation is to get her spayed and have them take biopsies. She will need to be anesthetized anyway to remove the masses. I know you are afraid to spay her, but it was the anesthesia and not the spay that was the issue with Weezie. She is not too old to be spayed and it will eliminate any chance of a future pyometra and lessen the chances of mammary cancer and eliminate any chance of uterine/ovarian cancer. As an ER tech, you have no idea how many pyometras and mammary cancers I see in older dogs and I feel so bad for them. I do completely understand why you are hesitant, but I think it's the best thing. They are never too old to get a pyo, and the older they get, the less of a chance they have of surviving that pyo. Good luck, whatever you decide.

I have an 18 year old cat who is failing. I've decided not to have anything invasive done on her and if she starts to suffer, I will euthanize. I also have a 5 year old cat in end stage kidney failure and I'm doing everything I can to try and make her comfortable, so I understand how scary all of this is.