Ava is a two-year-old labrador retriever from Mineral, Va., who is being treated for lymphoma at The Oncology Service Richmond. Her mom shared her story.
“I got Ava about two years ago. I’ve always had large-breed dogs, which have a comparatively short lifespan. I read about labrador retrievers and loved everything about them: temperament, lifespan, very smart, adorable! My boyfriend’s stepdad adopted her brother and Ava was the last pup left. I fell in love with her – she was such a fluffball!
“Ava and I do everything together; she used to come to work with me every day. In February I felt a lump on her neck and we rushed to the local emergency vet. Everyone said it was possibly tick disease causing swollen lymph nodes. We did not think it was lymphoma, but she started getting sicker, vomiting, etc. The last thing we checked for was lymphoma. Ava is young and full of energy so it was not the number-one thing on anyone’s mind.
“When I got the phone call telling me she has B-type lymphoma, I scheduled an appointment with the oncologist right away. I want her chemo treatment to give her a year’s remission. I am due to deliver my daughter in a few weeks and I was so excited for my baby to have such an amazing dog to grow up with. Even if Ava only gets one year, I will be ecstatic. I do not want to lose my girl anytime soon!”
Peanut Kern is a nine-year-old Miniature Schnauzer; she’s receiving radiation treatment for her thyroid carcinoma. Peanut has been receiving chemotherapy but the cancer has progressed, so radiation has been recommended at The Oncology Service Springfield with Dr. Ira Gordon.
Her parent shares their story:
“About a year after I lost my chihuahua Bruiser to cancer, my heart was ready to reach out to a rescue agency about any smaller dogs staying at the shelter that have some type of illness or injury, particularly the ones that other people wouldn’t want to care for. That very day Peanut’s information was forwarded to my email.
“Peanut came to Virginia in 2019 as a rescue from Texas when tropical storms and flooding devastated the area where she lived. Peanut’s previous owners may have turned her in after she developed a mass on her neck. Once retrieved by the rescue agency, Peanut spent days receiving tests and immunizations before we even knew this sweet girl existed. After receiving the correspondence from the shelter, I knew Peanut belonged with our little family.
“When we met it was apparent that she was well behaved, even though she was timid and skittish. Now Peanut is a loving, gentle ‘teddy bear’ who loves her squeaky toys. Despite her thyroid cancer, Peanut has always had healthy spurts of energy and playfulness.
“When I took Peanut home two years ago to foster, I was told she had 8-12 weeks and I knew the priority was to love her, make her feel welcome and comfortable, and give her the best life for as long as she had. After about six months she showed no signs of slowing down! However, the area of concern remained: the growing mass in her thyroid.
“We spent many months getting Peanut diagnosed as we moved from fostering to adopting her. She has been our little miracle girl from the beginning! I hope we can provide Peanut many more years with the stamina she deserves.”
We met Alison, a/k/a Raleigh’s Mama, at FETCH a Cure’s recent Mutt Strut. We thank her for sharing this wonderful story of her dog’s life. Raleigh is a fine example of the value of cancer treatment! We are sharing a series of treatment success stories this week.
“Raleigh, my sweet and loving golden retriever, was 11 years old when he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma inside his nose. We had only been living in San Francisco for two years the day I saw blood streaming down Raleigh’s nose, while he was playing with other dogs at the dog park. I remember thinking that it wasn’t a good sign and getting worried. I instantly began to Google search what it could be; seeing results that were scary, I called the vet immediately and got an appointment within a few days.
“My vet wanted me to first try a nose spray, thinking it might be allergies because Raleigh seemed in good spirits — we tried the spray for about four days until my intuition tugged at me to go back and get a biopsy. I remember getting the call — it was a day I will never forget. The world seemed to stop when the vet told me his diagnosis and said he probably had less than six months to live without surgery. And while money was tight then in 2015, I decided we were going to go to the best place nearby that could see him: UC Davis vet oncology.
“My mom flew out from Virginia to California to help me with Raleigh during this time, providing amazing emotional support. The day we drove 1.5 hours to UC Davis vet oncology was a beautiful, warm and sunny day. The staff was very kind and Raleigh was his happy and loving self, wanting to greet everyone. The oncologist told us that we’d do a CT scan first to understand the size of the tumor and where in the nose it was located, to see if Raleigh was a candidate for surgery. We prayed for positive news and were blessed with learning they could remove the tumor via surgery and likely get all the margins, as well as give the reconstruction a nice appearance. We were thrilled by this news and the possibility of having more time together.
“Because UC Davis vet oncology is one of the best, there was a waiting list for surgery. We called frequently to see about getting the soonest appointment, and were lucky to get in within three weeks. The weekend before his surgery, I took Raleigh to some of his favorite places — the beach, many different parks, and long walks, and gathered him around friends and family. The morning of surgery came and we drove out to Davis on a very hot day of 103 degrees. After admitting Raleigh in the morning, when he received so much love from the staff, we waited patiently until early evening to learn how surgery went. Good news — they were able to get 100% of the tumor margins and Raleigh was doing well, sedated and sleeping. I was so grateful to UC Davis vet oncology and so thankful all was going to be OK.
“Raleigh spent two nights at UC Davis vet hospital and when we were able to pick him up, it was hard to see his wound. I was worried about how it would heal and how it would affect him — his breathing and all of our usual activities like going to the beach. They told me it would take about a month to heal. There was the wearing of the cone for several weeks, but Raleigh was a good sport, and throughout his healing he was the same sweet and loving golden. His resilience through the surgery and healing process inspired me so much — he was such a trouper and always happy. He got lots of attention — many people would stop and ask, ‘What kind of dog is he?’, or ‘What happened to his nose?’ And stare. It was a constant stream of comments early on, but I was always strong for the both of us and told him daily how unique, special, handsome and accepted he was — to me, he was even cuter with this new face.
“Because of the amazing care we received at UC Davis vet oncology and the love of everyone — friends, family, neighbors and strangers — Raleigh would go on to enjoy the activities he loved for another three fabulous years. Every day, I felt blessed and grateful to have this much time together, as we were told we might only have an additional 1.5 years. Raleigh passed away peacefully at home at the age of 14, a few days after doing a two-mile walk and barbecue with neighbors. I miss his joyful spirit and companionship daily.
“After relocating temporarily back to Virginia, I came across FETCH and their mission and wanted to get involved and also share Raleigh’s story. Raleigh meant the world to me and I hope this story can provide some hope for those owners that are going through cancer surgery and treatments. Please reach out if you have any questions on squamous cell carcinoma in dogs and I will be happy to try and answer.”
Rosko is a three-year-old pitbull being treated for B-cell lymphoma by Dr. Christina Manley at The Oncology Service Leesburg. Lymphoma is considered to be the most chemotherapy-responsive cancer in dogs, and B-cell lymphoma is more prevalent than T-cell lymphoma. Rosko’s mom is hopeful as she shares his story:
“My sweet three-year-young Rosko has so much life and will to live. I rescued him at four weeks old; he was left for dead but he had a different idea. Since then he has been the center of mine and my two girls’ hearts! This dog knows no stranger and has the biggest sweetest heart.
“In January Rosko developed a lump under his jaw. Upon taking him to the vet, he was treated for an ear infection and released. He became sick again and was diagnosed with pneumonia. After several trips to emergency vets and my local vets we finally had a fine needle aspiration that confirmed he did in fact have large B-cell lymphoma.
“Rosko loves belly rubs and is a stealer of spaghetti noodles. He spies on all the neighbors and is the most popular dog on the block. He has now started the CHOP chemotherapy protocol to treat his cancer.”
We frequently offer free lumps & bumps checks, and encourage you to meet us at one near you. Here’s why.
Dogs can sprout a variety of lumps, bumps, and skin growths, especially as they age. Fortunately, most are merely unsightly or messy rather than harmful. No growth can be definitively diagnosed by its appearance alone, however, so point out such lumps and bumps to your veterinarian during your dog’s annual physical exam, and be sure to consult your vet if your dog has a lump that grows rapidly, oozes and doesn’t heal, or otherwise bothers you or your dog.
One of the most common is the lipoma, a benign, fatty growth that often appears in middle-age dogs and older dogs. Lipomas can range from 1 inch to 8 inches or more in diameter, growing slowly over months to years. Your vet will measure them during your dog’s yearly physical exam and note their location and size on your dog’s medical chart.
When a new lump appears or if one enlarges rapidly, it’s wise to have the vet do a fine needle aspiration (FNA) of the lump. The FNA takes only a few seconds, can be done during a regular exam, and is virtually painless. The cost can range between $25-$200, with the possibility of additional charges for lab work. Learn more about all the lumps and bumps here.