We interrupt our regularly scheduled crazy ass renovation update to bring you news of something that has both of us really freaked out. Both Mel and Lulu are having surgery this Friday to remove mast cell tumors.
Last week, on two separate days, we discovered that both of our four legged crew members have a random lump on their furry little bodies. The first discovery came while petting Mel, when I felt a pea sized lump near the tip of his tail. Upon further inspection, it seemed to be a scabbed bump, but it was not obvious where it came from. Being a properly cautious and paranoid pet parent (especially after everything we went through with Oliver's cancer battle) I made an appointment to bring him into the vet for an analysis ASAP.
Mel's a resilient character, and he's been through a few health scares in his nearly 12 years, so we were hopeful our vet would just tell us it was nothing and send us on our merry way. I mean, we'd rather be err on the side of caution, and drag everyone in for an unnecessary check up.
The night before Mel's appointment while doing our nightly Lulu wrestling match on our bed, a ritual that includes lots of tummy scratches, I noticed a lump on the right side of Lulu's belly. My initial thought was "mosquito bite." I know this sounds a little odd, but at the risk of TMI, she did get a bite right on her b-hole a few weeks ago (this made her completely miserable for a few days and included lots of not-very-ladylike licking, I can assure you). But again, rather than leave a lump I was relatively sure was some sort of a bug bite, just to be sure, we added Lulu to the list of veterinary patients for our trip to Alexandria Animal Hospital.
During the appointment, our vet aspirated each of their lumps. In essence, stuck a needle into them, and sucked out some of the matter inside for further testing. After going over the litany of possibilities at the appointment, and a bit of an anxious weekend of waiting on lab results (filling your weekend with DIY does seem to help the time pass more quickly without as much worry), we got the surprising and troubling call mid way through the day yesterday. The news took the wind right out of our sails -- both Mel and Lulu have mast cell tumors that will require surgery for removal.
Did we somehow jinx ourselves by talking about Ollie's fourth birthday last week? Had we messed up on some other aspect of pet parenting? You can't help but think about what role, if any, you have possibly played in your pet's troubling issues, no matter how ridiculous this could be. The likelihood is simply that both of their ailments are random coincidence, and not something related to one another, but we can't help but wonder.
Both Lulu and Mel are scheduled for surgery this Friday. Our poor little Scottish Fold will have the end of his adorable striped raccoon tail amputated to hopefully remove the whole thing without issue. His tail is such an identifying characteristic to his personality.
When he stands there looking at you, begging for tuna or cheese, he flicks his tail or holds it in a position that makes what looks like a question mark. It will be different without that bit at the end, but as long as he's still around, sans a bit of tail, I'm happy. I joked with our vet we'll have to start calling him "Stubby".
Though Mel's surgery should hopefully allow him to recover rather quickly, Lulu's is going to be a bit more difficult. Given the location of the lump she will need to have a rather long incision on her side, extending form her belly towards her back. She tends to be a licker when she has an itch, so we're going to be spending a lot of time keeping her from digging at her stitches and scar. Perhaps a t-shirt will do it, but in the worst case she'll need one of those lamp shades, more formally known as an Elizabethan collar. Given her general clumsiness, I can't see one of those collars working well, so hopefully the t-shirt will be a viable alternative.
The plan is then to help them recover while the two tumors are biopsied. If the biopsies reveal a lower grade tumor, we'll be in the clear. But if the biopsies show a more mature tumor that has the risk of metastasis, we'll need to look at the next options for further treatment with an oncologist.
I'm very hopeful all will go well, but I know from past experience, we can't take anything for granted. So we ask that you send your positive thoughts our way and hopefully we'll be able to report good news back on the status of our four legged crew next week. One thing is for sure, this weekend will probably be a lot less DIY and a lot more pet care, but at least we'll have each other to lean on.
Have any of you had to deal with mast cell tumors appearing on your pets? Any ideas, issues, concerns, tricks to speed recovery? As always, we'd appreciate some insight from your experiences, as it is often very helpful in dealing with our own.