October’s Breast Cancer awareness campaign is not just for humans. In mid October I noticed that Katy, my eleven year old black and white baby, had a lump on her chest. I hesitate to say on her breast only because Katy never developed breasts. However, a lack of breast development did not protect her from breast cancer. An appointment was made and our vet aspirated cells with a needle. She advised that the cells were so atypical and irregular that she should have surgery the next day, October 18.
When I picked Katy up after her surgery I was shocked at how long the incision was to remove a lump only slightly larger than a marble. The post op activity restrictions were equally discouraging: No running or jumping for 2 weeks, leash walks only long enough to do her business, avoid stairs, and no jumping on/off furniture for 2 weeks.
All these restrictions would necessitate crating my trust-worthy little girl who seldom has to be crated. And how do you “quietly walk” a basenji when there are squirrels in the yard?? The crating lasted only a couple days. The leash walks less than that. I decided that her short trips to our small fenced yard (void of squirrels) would be better than having her pull on her leash trying to chase them from the unfenced portion of our yard. We do have a few steps from the pet door to the yard but it did not seem to over-exert her to come and go as usual. I did not even attempt to prevent her from jumping on/off the furniture except for our bed.
About day 6 post-op when Katy had taken the last anti-inflammatory pill I noticed that she had begun to lick the lower portion of the incision incessantly. At her check-up the next day she was started on an antibiotic and the anti-inflammatory meds were reordered. The vet noted that one of the internal dissolvable sutures was working its way out causing the irritation. Once that was removed she healed without any further complications.
Day 11 post-op I received a message to call the vet’s office for biopsy results. The bad news is that Katy’s lump was a soft tissue sarcoma: breast cancer. The good news is that it was Grade 1, the least serious, and the margins of the excised tissue were “clean”. In other words, they got it all with surgery. The biopsy report says this type of tumor rarely recurs and metastases, if any, are slow growing.
Friday, November 2, 2012 we want back to have Katy’s sutures removed and to discuss further testing. Chest x-rays and abdominal ultrasound were recommended however at this time I prefer to wait for the full cytology report which is still pending. Any tumor growth in soft tissues such as liver or lungs would be inoperable but an indicator of prognosis. The results, even if clear now, would be subject to change at any time in the future. With the information we have I believe it is better to hope for the best and watch Katy for signs or symptoms of problems rather than stress out about what the future may bring.
Currently, Katy is back to her playful and spunky self, seemingly unaware that she has caused me to lose a few night’s sleep. I feel fortunate that Katy’s tumor was in a location where it was easily found and removed. Since I have yet to see any mammograms designed for our furry friends I encourage everyone to examine your fur kids for lumps and bumps and to have anything suspicious examined by the vet. And while we are on the subject, ladies, if you have not had your annual mammogram, what are you waiting for? October was, after all, Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Early detection is key.