Anim Graphic ©1997 Kitty Roach

(For this page, pretend this dog is limping on three legs!)

On 2 July, I wrote: Misha's Lumpy Leg: The final decision . . . wherein the unthinkable becomes, perhaps, the doable . . .

We took Misha to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary Teaching Clinic on 12 July, and spoke with an intern, a surgeon, an oncologist, and another veterinarian. The upshot was that we had them take a piece of the lump for a biopsy, and a lung x-ray.

The x-ray determined that as far as possible to see, the cancer, if that is what this is, has not spread into the lungs. The biopsy will determine EXACTLY what this is.

The opinion of the oncologist, however, was that this was a carcinoma. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that it does not spread throughout the body. The bad news is that it is persistent and will recur . . .

Therefore, our options were:

1.    Leave it be. The lumps may eventually get so large they will interfere with leg function and/or burst, get infected, etc., at which point we'd have to choose one of the other options anyway.

2.    Operate only for removal. This would involve skin grafts and multiple surgeries, since there isn't enough skin in this area to cover the amount of tissue/skin removed to be sure it's all taken. Even so, chances are VERY high that it will recur before the wound is even healed.

3.    Operate for removal and do radiation. This would include the above, PLUS A MONTH'S stay in the hospital, anesthetic EVERY DAY for radiation treatment, and all the side effects and recovery time. The wound would take long to heal and can become quite messy, to say the least (our Violet had skin cancer and I know "messy" is NOT the most descriptive word, but all I could think of at the moment).

4.    Amputation. A word we shunned, before we knew the alternatives. If we could just rid ourselves of the thought of mutilation and consider it life-saving. She would have a 100% survival rate for as long as she would normally have lived (we're aiming for 15 years). The oncologist and intern have both had experiences with this and say the dog "gets used to it". But, can we??

Because the biopsy taken at the Madison Veterinary Clinic also came back inconclusive (upper limps were probably lipomas; bottom lumps may be hemangiocytomas, we decided to remove the lumps and worry about they were after they were biopsied.

On 28 July, she went under the knife. Misha & I sensed something much better about this intern and surgeon than our original two . . . because it's a teaching clinic, they're always in rotation. This surgeon had to make the final decision when he opened her up, as the previously-minor fatty tissue lump on the upper inside thigh may be a mass, too. It had greatly enlarged and hardened in the two months between our first look at it and the surgery date. He open up her upper leg and, depending on a visual determination, decide whether to clean it out and take out the two lower lumps, OR to just amputate 'cause the upper mass was invading the muscle.