Though we wanted to share some of our vacation highlights and photos with you today, we're still getting our arms around everything since we returned home from the trip. Most notably, we've been getting a handle on the treatment of Mel and Lulu's medical issues. And to be completely honest, each time I sat down to start writing about the vacation, I really couldn't concentrate, typically because I had the sweet head of one of our pets nearby that was just begging to be scratched.
When we left for our trip we did so with some trepidation. Lulu and Mel were both recovering from their respective surgeries, and we hadn't heard the results of Lulu or Mel's pathology report from the removal of their two mast cell tumors. Talk about bad timing for a vacation. Fortunately, we were able to head out of town knowing that both Lulu and Mel were being cared for by people who loved them and would look out for them.
Knowing Wendy would be a wreck on vacation if we got bad news, I arranged with the vet to email me with the results when they came in. My plan was to share the results with Wendy if they were great. Otherwise, I planned to quietly make arrangements for when we returned.
The diagnosis of mast cell tumors meant that we needed to wait on the pathology report to assign a grade before we'd know the severity and next steps in treatment. When dealing with mast cell tumors, the possible outcomes are grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3. Grade 1 is the best case with about a 95% cure rate, but it is somewhat rare in its classification. Grade 3 is the worst, and is often considered terminal because of the extent at which the tumors metastasize, often to vital organs. Grade 2 is the most common, and it is often classified into a "low grade 2" (which is closer to grade 1), and "high grade 2" (which is closer to 3). As you can imagine, this information is all of the stuff I was able to obsess over while trying to enjoy our vacation.
Mid way through our trip I received an email from our vet. I nervously opened the message to read her and the lab's assessment. I don't know how Wendy didn't know what I was looking at, as I almost held my breath as I read the results.
Both Mel and Lulu's results were officially grade 2. At once, conflicting feelings of concern and relief came over me. I was worried that it wasn't grade 1 and at the same time ecstatic it wasn't grade 3, then I realized what I had just read, grade 2...with low incidence of mitotic division. That last part were the key words we needed. This meant that the grade 2 assessment was actually a "low grade 2," which is great news!
I still didn't plan on sharing the news with Wendy right away, since the results were not grade 1, and I knew she wouldn't be "okay" with grade 2. Instead, I began emailing and coordinating oncologist followup appointments, and additional research. Thanks to some great friends at The Hope Center, we were able to schedule our oncologist followup for just two days after we got back into town.
Towards the end of the trip, Wendy asked me if I had heard any news and what the results were. I knew it was time to let her know so I came clean and told her all of the news. She went through a similar feeling to what I went through and ultimately came to a similar but not as optimistic conclusion as I had.
When we got home we were both so happy to see Mel and Lulu. Being away from them during this time made it even more difficult than usual, and we were so relieved to be home with them and back to our role of caring for them.
The morning after we arrived home we took Lulu to have her sutures removed. Her incision was looking good and had healed very nicely. Mel had his sutures out just before we left for the trip, so both of our patients were nicely on the mend.
Our oncology followup with The Hope Center's Dr. Beck was just yesterday. The results from the visit were similar to what we had hoped. Though we were both somewhat overwhelmed by all of the various information presented, the end decision is to simply monitor both Mel and Lulu for any new tumors over the next six months. We'll also go for an ultrasound for each to ensure there hasn't been any tumor growth in the liver, spleen, or other organs.
Our visit to The Hope Center was quite hard. It's a place that I went weekly while treating Oliver in his fight against lymphoma, and it was difficult to take our other pets there for treatment reasons. Even harder, our appointment yesterday was in the room where we had to put Ollie to sleep. It's a good thing Wendy brought Kleenex in her purse.
One positive aspect was the fact that we got to see Michelle and Michael, two of Ollie's favorite "ladies" as we referred to them. We got to know them well during our months treating Ollie, and we hadn't seen them in a few years.
Though the kids aren't totally out of the woods yet, things are looking good at this point. Their results are the best case of an intermediate case scenario. Their treatment options, long term, are hopefully minimal. But in the event there is a recurrence in the tumors that need additional treatment, we have an excellent oncology center with a lot of dedicated staff that will do what is necessary to treat our pets as the children of ours that they are.
I'm sure I sound pretty crazy to some people, but I also know there are plenty of people out there who probably know exactly how we are feeling. Just like anything else, home renovation-related or otherwise, we'll take everything one day and one task at a time. We're hopeful for the best case scenario, but are also preparing ourselves for a more difficult road ahead. We'll keep you all posted on their progress, and any other information. At the very least, hopefully our blog posts might help another pet parent who is dealing with the same thing in their loved one at some point in the future.