Over the past several months, I have been searching the web for folks who may have been in a similar situation to see what I could learn. Seems that there have been similarities, but that I may be forging newer ground in my case so I thought I would join the forum and post my situation in case others may be able to learn from my experience.
About 8 months ago, my wife and I noticed what looked like a skin growth on the corner of our golden's right eye. Since ours is such a young dog -- Razzamatazz turned three in June -- we took him to the vet who told us to monitor it to see if it grows before we did anything. Well, it stayed put for about a month and then the growth accelerated. We could almost see if grow by the day. Our vet recommended an eye specialist, who diagnosed it as a benign tumor and went in to cut it out. Thinking that is was over, we were very surprised to see it come back about a month later. By this time, the pathology report from the surgery had come in and it showed that our poor little guy's tumor was not benign at all. It was malignant and aggressive cancer (albeit stage one) in the form of a spindle cell tumor -- or soft tissue sarcoma. The tumor was located on the nerve sheath that holds the eye in place. The eye specialist recommend that we try a combination of freezing and an experimental injection of Avastin -- approved in Canada to help prevent macular degeneration -- that had been reported to halt spindle cell growth. He did both of these treatments and it seemed to work -- for a couple of months. Then we noticed it coming back much to our disappointment.
At this point, our only option was to see an oncologist who recommended immediate removal of the tumor -- along with his eye and part of his snout to ensure that all of the tissue margins were good. We were in shock, denial and flat-out disbelief that we needed to take this route with our beautiful family member. We then sought out a series second opinions, including a that of the head surgeon at Angell Memorial in Boston. All roads led to the removal of Razz's eye. We scheduled the surgery and dreaded each day that passed until the big day.
That day was yesterday. We sat in the hospital waiting area all day until our little guy emerged from the operating area to herald the next stage of his life. While we were happy that he made it through, his face put my wife into a state of shock and the tears only flowed more when we could see the look of confusion, sadness, and pain that was on our dog's face. It was heartbreaking. Not on the same level of losing a pet -- which we all know how painful that is -- but it still hurts down to the bone to have to do this. Yes -- I know what the alternative was if we did not do it -- so it was the natural trade off and easy decision to make. It just plain stinks though -- especially for such a young dog.
We will always love him and he will be beautiful to us. And, as we all know, they adapt much more quickly than we could. However, I can tell you from experience that the knowledge does not make this experience any easier -- despite knowing this was the right thing to do to keep him with us.
For anyone reading this, my advice is to move quickly to have it checked out if you see something like this on your dog. It is likely going to be nothing, but delaying the diagnosis could risk metastasizing. And, if you are lucky, you may be able to save your dog's life even if it means making a tough decision along the way.
If anyone want to ask questions, please let me know. I would be happy to share any more of the details -- and may be even to save a little time for you along the way.
I will post pictures once he heals up a bit. In the meantime, attached are some recent photos of Razz.
I am so very sorry to hear of what Razz and you have been through.
I will be praying for him and you. Please keep us updated! It was so kind of you to think of helping someone else with your post! God Bless you!! I will be looking for updates on Razz!!
Tucker, Tonka, and Karen
SNOBEAR at the Bridge
Dec. 23, 1999-March 27, 2010
I'm terribly sorry that your lovely Razz had cancer and that you had to do something raidcal to halt it. You're right that he will adjust quickly, but it's still so hard to cope with doing something this invasive to your pup. May he never be acquainted with the dreadful C word again and live a long, happy life!
Golden retrievers think life is a party thrown especially for them
Thank you for sharing this. It's so hard when a young dog like Razz gets cancer. What a tough thing to go through. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife.
AYLA: Simply put, you were wonderful. (02/16/91-11/21/98) ADDY: You were fun, personable and terrific. (4/23/97-01/30/11) ANNIE: How do I know there are absolutely great dogs in shelters? Because that is where I found you. (?/99-11/21/09; Gotcha Day: 05/19/01) RINDY: You were my super sweet & beloved rescue girl. (09/01/05-7/23/15; Gotcha Day: 01/8/11) FINN: My inquisitive and Finn-tastic boy! (08/25/11) ?????: Anxiously waiting to meet you soon!