Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little Plucked Chicken

My poor Abby girl had her surgery yesterday. The surgeon (who I really like) said he thinks he got it all but we have to wait for the pathology results to know for sure. He had to take most of her gracilis muscle and part of one of her adductor muscles. He also had to take part of a nerve that was going right into the tumour - he said this may have been the source of the tumour. He said it was a good sign that she was using her leg a bit soon after surgery...hopefully having to take those muscles and the nerve won't have done too much lasting damage.

The thing that scares me is that he said the mass was much deeper up near her pubic region than he had anticipated. If there are cancer cells left up there amputation wouldn't be an option, leaving radiation as the only next step.

Everything crossed for good pathology results...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tough Stuff.

Abby has a tumour in her left thigh.

It all started over a month ago when I noticed Abby limping after getting home from a hike. I assumed she'd just sprained something. A few days later I walked her again and same thing - she got home, went to her bed and was reluctant to get up. When she did she was either not weight bearing or limping considerably. By the next day she seemed fine again. I decided to fully rest her for a few weeks in case it was a pulled muscle.

Then on January 3rd I found a large lump deep in her upper inner thigh. Large like...probably 4" long and oddly shaped. It felt to me like a lipoma but I'd never felt a lipoma so deep in the tissue before. This felt like it was in her thigh muscle. I decided to bring her to the vet the next day and he was stumped by it. He tried to aspirate the lump but got nothing out of it, which he decided pretty much ruled out a lipoma and an infection. He told me to exercise her to see if the limp was still present and then to bring her back in for biopsy the next week. I took her home, brought her for a walk the next day and she did the same thing - right to her bed and then acting sore for the rest of the day.

On January 10th I brought her in for xrays and a biopsy. Xrays showed that her knees and hips looked good and the vet thought the lump seemed very much like a torn hamstring muscle. I was relieved - slightly upset about the bill - but happy to hear it was nothing but a torn muscle that would take rest and rehab to heal.

Not so much...

I called to get the biopsy results yesterday and according to the pathologist "this looked like the periphery of a low grade infiltrative spindle cell tumor like schwannoma or hemangiopericytoma". "It has negligable metastatic risk, but they are usually quite invasive and achieving permanent surgical cure can be challenging".

From talking to the vet and googling it seems that the most challenging thing with these tumours is fully removing them with clean margins. Apparently it is very very difficult to get everything out particularly when they're in a limb (and Abby's feels to me like it's deeply rooted all through her thigh) and the chance of the tumour regrowing is therefore quite high. The three basic options are
1)continue removing the tumour every time it grows (and each time it grows back more firmly rooted and is more difficult to remove)
2)removal and then radiation treatments which are usually prohibitively costly and not offered very many places
3)removal and then if the tumour regrows, amputation of the limb.

This is assuming they can remove the tumour at all without significant damage to Abby's leg - which already worries me since the tumour just feels...huge and awful in there.

Until I researched it more today and got the biopsy results I was going to let my regular vet remove the mass. I think now though that I should get an oncologic surgeon to remove it. It sounds like there is the best shot at removing it entirely and preserving the limb with the first surgery so I want to make sure I choose the best option. A specialist will be much more expensive...but I need to try and save Abby's leg.

I guess I should feel lucky that this is a type of cancer that rarely metastasizes (fingers crossed) and that it's relatively slow growing but it makes me sick thinking about having to have Abby's leg amputated. She is athletic and small and would do fine with three legs but I just...can't even think about it. She loves running and jumping and her entire self is and always has been about how athletic she is.

This sucks.