Sometime over the weekend (Friday or Saturday, but I am not sure which day exactly because I forgot to log it), I bent down to hold Lucy’s face in my hands and kiss her nose. My fingers are usually on her neck when I do this, with my thumbs on her cheeks. This maneuver serves a dual purpose for me. It holds her head still so I can kiss her and it affords me a low stress opportunity to check her for lumps and bumps. I thought I felt something, but I wasn’t sure. So I compared notes with Mugen and found a lymph node in his cheek in, what I thought, was a similar location. So I let it go.
Sunday night, I was watching TV with hubby and I pulled the same trick on Lucy. I took her head in my hands and went to kiss her nose and the thing was big and felt hard as a rock. There was no denying that I’d found a lump that time and I was sure it wasn’t a lymph node because it was way too large and too far away from where I’d found Mugen’s lymph nodes. I freaked out, I cried a lot and I called the vet.
Dr. Katie saw us on Wednesday and said “I don’t like it.” again when she took the aspirates and did the smears, measured the mass at 2 cm by 3 cm and commented that it was egg shaped and I agreed that that sounded right. She frowned at the thing and told Lucy that she couldn’t make it any more difficult on us if she’d tried.
After the business side of thing was done, she joked that she had considered calling into work because she hates watching us go through this. I love Dr. Katie because she hates to see us. I hate to see her too. I wish I only had to see her twice a year, tops. Instead… the entire staff at the vet’s office knows Lucy and me by name. The other patients there look at us funny when they hear “Hi! How’s Miss Lucy doing?” My God those people have no idea how bad I wish that my Lucy were there for kennel cough or shots. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure that the staff at the vet’s office is even aware that I have another dog and when I do have to bring the poor pupster in, they’re not sure how to pronounce his name. (It’s moo-GEN, not MUH-gin).
I stressed out so bad that I ate Tums like candy yesterday and prayed for a lipoma, even though it’s a really shitty place to have a lipoma, and this morning, I received the cytology report. It’s a mast cell tumor. It’s higher grade, a 2 or possibly a 3. Knowing Lucy’s cancer, it’s a 3. The tumor is sitting on top of her jugular vein. At this point, Lucy’s oncologist has returned an email to let us know that she feels that there is no point in putting Lucy through surgery for this tumor and our best hope, and remaining option, is Palladia or Masitinib (also known as Kinavet).
The real problem comes in here.
These drugs, called TKIs, only work in about 40% of the canine population. There is a test to determine if Lucy is in that 40% so I want to have her tested first. There’s no sense in using Palladia or Masitinib, both of which will make Lucy sick to her stomach, if it won’t even work on her.
Failing that, we love her as hard as we can for as long as we can.
Both of these choices are painful because Palladia is not an option that I’m thrilled with and I refused this drug when we were offered it in December because the agony of holding Lucy while she was sick to her stomach at three am after chemo was very fresh in my mind. This situation is different though, the alternative is Lucy having a stroke, which I am also not particularly thrilled about.
That’s where we’re at. Either way… we’ve hit that beginning of the end place, I know it now… and I hate it very much.