Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wichita Chronicles Part 3

Wichita has been doing great!  He passed his Canine Good Citizen test in November and he'll begin therapy dog classes in January.

But a little before Thanksgiving, I saw a little bump on Wichita's side. It was small, about the size of a pencil eraser, but sometimes it would shrink and be almost too small to find. Other times it would get bigger again. I tried to take pictures of the bump, but it was so little, it wasn't really visible in any of the pictures. So off to the vet we went (again). Dr. Weisz did a find needle aspiration and looked at the cells from the lump under the microscope. It was a mast cell tumor. Mast cell tumors are pretty unpredictable and they can be benign or they can be malignant and extremely aggressive. I have a friend whose dog had a mast cell tumor when he was a year old and never had an issue again. I also have a friend whose dog had a mast cell tumor and she died of mast cell cancer just a couple of months later. Yikes!

First step for Wichita was to remove the tumor. But it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when I took him in, so Dr. Weisz scheduled surgery for the next Thursday and said we'd need to give Wichita Benedryl and Pepcid until the surgery. Mast cell tumors are made of mast cells which are part of the immune system and they can release histamine (hence the size change). If a mast cell tumor is big enough or aggressive enough, it can release so much histamine, that it can cause anaphylactic shock! Dr. Weisz also warned me that although the tumor was small, mast cell tumors are often locally aggressive, so when removing them, they always take wide margins to have a better chance of getting all of the abnormal cells. So she planned to take 3 cm on each side of the tumor, that would mean about a 5 inch incision!

Big incision
I took Wichita in for surgery on Thursday and everything went well. He got lots of love from the Allandale staff and they made sure to stitch up the big incision really well. I tried not to think about the histopathlogy report since it would be 5-10 business days before we'd get the results. We needed to keep Wichita fairly calm for about 10 days to avoid putting stress on the stitches and incision. That's not easy with a young, active dog! He never seemed to feel any pain even though the incision was so big.

I took Wichita to work with me the day after his surgery, clearly he wasn't feeling too bad. Lots of students came by to see him. This is one of my TAs, Ka'ohi, doing one of Wichita's favorite tricks with him. 

They gave us carprofen for pain, and we gave it to him for a few days, but I'm not sure he needed it. Wichita did not have to wear a cone, but he did have to wear a t-shirt to keep him from scratching at the incision. He didn't mind wearing t-shirts at all. I did catch him trying to scratch at the incision a couple of times, so when he was home alone, I put a bootie on his back foot so he couldn't scratch much.
Wichita scratched one of his stitches loose, luckily the incision was already healing well so it wasn't a big deal.
On Friday, 8 days after surgery, we got the histopathlogy report. All of the abnormal cells were removed with good margins!  And the mitotic index was a 2 which is very good! Mitotic index is a scale from 1 to 10 that measures how quickly cells are dividing. Cancer cells divide really quickly and very aggressive cancer cells divide crazy fast. A mitotic index of 5 or below is considered good for a mast cell tumor and no further treatment is generally recommended. So Wichita's mitotic index of 2, was great news!

Yesterday Wichita got his stitches taken out and Dr. Weisz said everything looks good and he's cleared for all activity (even swimming)! He does have a pretty huge scar that one friend said looks like "an alien worm coming out of his side" But his hair will grow back soon and hopefully the big scar won't be super noticeable...and even if it is, oh well, at least he's healthy!
hopefully when his fur grows back the scar won't be so noticeable
alien worm scar
We will always have to watch for lumps and bumps and get them checked out quickly because often (but not always) dogs who get one mast cell tumor will get more. But with his super short fur, bumps are very easy to see & feel on Wichita.

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