Wednesday, June 10, 2009

choosing to feel relief

J-Dog, ignoring the paparazzi.

Have you ever been so afraid of something that you've been unable to talk about it

That happened to me early last week when I found a lump under my dog's front leg (in what I keep thinking of as his arm-pit). My heart stopped. I took my hand away and checked again and it hadn't gone away.

As memories of finding the lump in my breast came flooding back, I found myself saying out loud, "This just can't be anything. Lumps can happen for all sorts of reasons." But I felt really queasy.

Over the next couple of days, I kept checking (my poor dog was getting rather irritated with me). The lump clearly didn't bother him (but neither did mine). It felt hard to the touch (bad) but it seemed to move around a bit (good - but I wasn't sure this wasn't just wishful thinking on my part).

Last Thursday, I bit the bullet and took him to the vet. He felt at the spot and said, "It's a fatty tumour." He put his hand on my arm and said, "Am I worried about this? No. And it's not bothering him but if you are worried, I can remove it. Or I can do a biopsy."

"It's benign?" I stammered.

"Yes. It will grow slowly and he will probably get others but unless it starts to bother him, we don't need to do anything."
And then he repeated, "I am not worried."

It was a good appointment. The vet pronounced both dogs to be "perfect" (I'd brought in Lucy, too), gave them their shots and told me to have a good summer.

So I left, feeling europhic.

In the last week, I have felt some niggling doubts, though. I know too much about cancer. I know far too many stories of people who were told that lumps were very unlikely to be cancer, only to find out the worst. Why would dogs be any different?

But the truth is, that I don't know what I would do if the lump were a cancerous tumour. Probably nothing very different. I can't imagine subjecting my dog to cancer treatment.

It was so hard losing Emma but she had lived a long life. I cried for Eli, who died a few weeks ago (we still owe him a eulogy). Losing Jasper, though, who's only nine, would break my heart.
We call him my boyfriend (especially when we exchange meaningful glances and sneak off to bed together). He is sweet and quirky and very, very smart (he hid behind me when the vials came out for the vaccinations, even before he saw the needles). He's an old soul, too, as many have remarked. I am choosing to believe that all is well. The alternative does bear consideration.

I am not the only one who loves this dog.

Gratuitous photo of Lucy.


Average Jane said...

Poor J-Dog! I hope everything works out for the best.

A personal story that may help: I found a lump on my cat's belly several years ago when she was already quite mature (probably 14). It was breast cancer and they did a mastectomy, which was all the treatment it required. Velcro is still alive and jumping up onto the counters today.

Veterinary stuff is always so difficult, but sometimes you can luck out and the treatment will be relatively simple.

FlippyO said...

I don't know if it helps for you to know that dogs often have fatty tumors. Like allllll the time, so if the vet isn't worried, don't worry. Especially, if you think that even if it was cancerous, that you wouldn't want to treat it. But really, dogs are always full of fatty deposits. Ours also have sebaceous cysts. They run when they see Leigh-Ann coming near them with pinched fingers, a paper towel, and rubbing alcohol. :)

MoninaW said...

One of my good friends lost her dog to cancer and it was one of the most difficult times for her. I still read some articles she writes, reliving those awful last days and it still brings me to tears.

So I'm glad to hear J-Dog's is benign.

And I'm glad you're choosing relief.

I hope you're feeling better!

Lene Andersen said...

Lovely dogs. Hope all continues to go well.

Jill said...

I hope all your worrying is needless and that it is indeed a fatty lump. A relative of mine has had one for 20 years or more, so it can be just what the vet suggests.

On another note, I've made a link to your blog on mine. I hope you don't mind, but if you have any objections I'll remove it. The address is
Keep up your great blog and health and happinessto you and all you love
Jill B.

Jeanne said...

Hi Laurie--boy do I identify with this one!

My younger son's dog died a year ago, and I still miss him.

If I found a lump on my dog Constant I would just freak. But like you, I do often feel like I know too much about cancer ... but what to do?

The dog next door--another sweet lab mix--has a tumor, and she is being treated with a low dose of oral chemo. She seems fine. I find that amazing, but her owner is a retired emergency room doctor who did a lot of research before choosing this treatment. And she's a young dog, maybe 5.

Maybe someday, we'll go in for treatment together, dog and human ...

nonlineargirl said...

Glad to hear the lump is benign. Our neighbors' dog is lumpy in his advanced age (and he's short-haired so it is noticeable) but so far the lumps have been benign as well. Keeping fingers crossed for all four legged friends.

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