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I just don’t want to look back and think “I could have eaten that.”

A Day In The Life 2: My Jackson

You’ll have to excuse me if the discussion doesn’t revolve around food in today’s post. Since it’s “A Day In The Life” I figured I can deviate a little. Almost a year ago I noticed a large lump that literally appeared over night on my dog Jack’s right pectoral region. I immediately took him to my vet and they aspirated the growth. They didn’t find anything and the main vet told me “sometimes dogs are lumpy”. Uh…

I didn’t really like that answer, but I figured he knew what he was talking about since he was THE vet at this clinic. “Since it’s on his side he’ll have to lay on it and if we don’t have to cut him open we should just leave it”, he said.

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A few months go by and we saw another vet at that same clinic. I brought it up again and they aspirated the growth a second time. Once again they didn’t find anything suspicious.

More months go by and I moved to a different area. I couldn’t keep driving back to the old vet since it was over 30 miles away so I found one near the new house. Two days before Thanksgiving I took Jack and Hana to the new vet for their vaccinations. The first thing the vet said to me when he felt Jack’s lump was “WHOA what is this’??? I told him about what my old vet had said and how they aspirated it twice and found nothing abnormal.

He said sometimes you just don’t get anything when you aspirate, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. “If I were you I would get this removed. It’s really large”. If it turns out to be nothing then Jack won’t have this large lump on his chest anymore and if it happens to be something then we’ve gotten rid of it.

I was pretty upset, because I knew this growth wasn’t normal. I knew it deep down, but I listened to someone who I thought should know better than me. I should have gotten a second opinion when I first noticed it and I didn’t.

We pretty much scheduled the surgery right away. The first night he came home he was pretty medicated. He did not sleep at all. I spent the entire night laying on the floor next to his dog bed. Jack would whine throughout the night and I would try to comfort him the best I could. Needless to say we were both exhausted.

Long story short the growth turned out to be a tumor. Jack had what is called Nerve Sheath Tumor. It’s a tumor of the nervous system that originate in the myelin sheath. The vet had to cut into the muscle, because it had grown into it. Fortunately, Nerve Sheath Tumors (at least in Jack’s case) are non-aggressive, but unless you’ve cut out all the bad stuff it will grow back.

The surgeon did not recommend that we do another surgery on Jack and to be honest with you I wasn’t going to allow it anyway. There would not have been enough skin to close the wound and there was no way I was going to let him walk around like that until it healed. I had two options. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy had a really high success rate, but is extremely pricey. Chemotherapy had a lower success rate (not bad – just lower than radiation), but was more reasonable in cost.

I didn’t even think about it. I opted for the radiation therapy. I had to get into savings, but that’s what that money is for right? Anyway, the radiation protocol took 4 weeks. I would drive Jack 27 miles every morning to the specialist clinic to get him there by 7AM. It was brutal let me tell you. I don’t get up early for anything.

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The last week of radiation treatment and the two that followed were awful. The area where he received radiation made him look like he was a burn victim. The area was moist and painful. Jack had to wear t-shirts to keep from messing with the area, but that meant the shirt would stick to him. It was awful. I did hydrotherapy on him twice a day. I washed the treatment area with warm water to remove the sticky stuff which also promotes good cell growth. Jack was such a good boy throughout. I know it must have been painful, but he let me do it.

So, we are now a month out from the last radiation treatment and Jack is doing great. The treatment area is hairless and pigmented, but it’s pretty much back to normal. I am so glad he’s doing better, but also sad that I waited so long to get him treatment. The point of this post is that if you feel like something is wrong even when someone else tells you not to worry, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. In my case it turned out well, but I don’t even want to imagine what the outcome could have been if he had an aggressive tumor.

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