I apologize to those who have been concerned for not sharing an update on Sheba and her test results sooner (click here if you’ve missed the story). The news was not what we were hoping for, and I’ve been kind of trying to come to terms with it. I didn’t want to post something totally negative when that’s what I was feeling. It’s not all bad, but for a couple of days that seemed to be all I could focus on.
The tumor the vet removed from Sheba was cancerous. As I told you before, it was the spindle cell sarcoma they were checking for. The bad part is that they just can’t be sure if he removed it all, because it was so messy it was impossible to get “clean margins”. The more hopeful news is that this type of cancer rarely metastasizes …it is mostly a cancer that grows right beneath the skin and is confined to one area.
If he did not get it all, because of where it is located on her side, he should be able to remove any subsequent recurrence as he did this one. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the area. Chemotherapy does not typically work for this type of cancer, though radiotherapy (radiation) could. It would be our option to take Sheba to Tufts in Boston to pursue that. We have decided not to at this time for mostly a couple of reasons: Sheba is 10 ½ years old and at her age we just don’t want to put her through that additional stress. But more importantly, right now she feels great! If she was acting poorly, we might look at things differently.
On top of receiving the bad news, fluid had started to build up around Sheba’s incision and I had to take her back in. They were able to easily re-open the drain site so that the fluid could be drained. The good news there is that so far the fluid is clear and does not look infected. But the drain site keeps closing back up and I had to take her in the next day to re-open it again! This time they showed me how to use a q-tip to get in a little deeper and open it as needed. There’s a reason I never went into the medical field. It’s not that I’m extremely squeamish….the sight of blood doesn’t bother me. But what does bother me is the thought that I might be hurting Sheba when I did this (even though they said it didn’t hurt her), so I just couldn’t get in there deep enough.
As it turns out, my hubby is a better nurse than I am, and he has been the one that’s been doing this now, and so far we’ve been able to keep it drained, though it isn’t always easy. So between these two things, I’ve been a bit stressed out, and having a hard time staying optimistic. I’m worried about whether she’s healing properly, and I’m worried about the cancer returning. I’m trying to pull myself together but it’s tough. The fact that I got the phone call the day before the anniversary of Kobi’s death didn’t really help matters.
I didn’t want to write this post when I’ve been feeling so negative. I have felt sad, angry, resentful, and bitter. This is our 3rd dog with cancer, and we’ve only had 7! I think I am finally getting past that though. I was honestly a bit surprised, I was optimistic for it to have just been a benign cyst. Add that all in to the weather we’ve been having, and even a normally optimistic person like me can have trouble looking on the bright side.
I’m trying to think of proactive things I can do to help Sheba. I want her to get through this healing process and get those stitches out so she can go back to playing and enjoying life. She is such a trooper….each trip to the vet she is stoic, and each time we take her aside to open that drain she puts up with it without a peep. She’s an awesome dog. She is supposed to be getting her stitches out today, but that will only happen if the fluid is no longer building up, which remains to be seen. It is healing and has slowed down but we did have to drain it Sunday morning.
I’ll share some things I’m thinking about soon. I have plenty of time to think about things, since we’re in blizzard conditions lately. We only got a few inches of snow over the weekend, but the wind chills have been below zero so we’re stuck inside.
In retrospect, this was probably a better time for her to need surgery than in the middle of the summer when she’d really be bummed about not being able to play in the pool. Maybe I am finally starting to look on the bright side. I am going to plan on Sheba being around for a long time to come, and we’re going to make the best of each and every day. The rest is in the hands of a higher power.