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About RobynH

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  1. It was with great sadness that my Boxer Lana was recently diagnosed with a grade 2 Mast Cell tumour on her back leg. This is my third Boxer and will be the third one to go down this route. She is not yet 8 years old so is younger than my other 2 (one died at 9 and one at 10) but has already had a spindle cell tumour on a front leg that appeared at 4 years old. Why do so many Boxers seem to go this way? Does anyone know if breeders are trying to do something about their predisposition to this nasty cancer/cancers? They are such great dogs and to lose them so young is heartbreaking. I noticed the growth about a year ago. It is only about the size of a one cent piece but my experience tells me that its not the size that dictates the outcome. I also noticed about 6 other small ones come up at the same time, some on her front legs, some in her groin area, one small one on the back of her head. We were living in India at the time and veterinary help for dogs is very hard to come by and concentrates on the common illnesses and accidents rather than anything as complex as cancer so I left it until I got to somewhere more reliable before having it tested, secretly hoping that my fears would be wrong. I had also noticed many of the same symptoms I had in my other 2 Boxers during the last 12-18 months of their lives including stomach pain, days where she would just be 'off', not eating, diarrhea, vomiting, pain, difficulty pooping, peeing often, all the same things. I put her on Zantac, which I could get, and it seemed to help but I was at a loss to do much more there. I am now in the States, doing the six month process of getting them back to Australia so have access to better (though very expensive) veterinary advice but it's all pretty difficult. The vets advice was to take the confirmed one off straight away but my feeling is that this really won't affect the outcome or even necessarily give her more time as she has all the other lumps as well as symptoms that its spread internally and rather than have her cut up in so many places I think I would rather just keep her as comfortable as I can for as long as I can. On the advice of a friend here I have started on a new diet that includes Kahoots dry food (the most natural I could find), with the addition of a mixture that includes brown rice, lentils, carrots, broccoli and cooked turkey mince, topped with a powder that includes Lecithin, nutritional yeast and Pet Kelp as well as additional Glucosamine and MSM supplement and she has certainly improved, with less apparent pain and fewer 'off' days. She is eating a lot and looks great (I think because the pain in her belly is eased with food or makes her think she's hungry) but I know with my other 2 boxers, they looked great right til the end with good weight on them and shiny coats. Nothing much ever showed up on the other dog's blood work and this seems to be going the same way. There are a few elevated levels as well as some crystals in her urine and blood and mucous in her stool but other than that she seems happy in herself (as always) though tires easily and is no longer able to jump up in the car or stretch herself. I'm not sure there is much more I can do other than to make her comfortable, I think I'm just venting about the unfairness of it all and how I hate to lose yet another Boxer in this same way. There is nothing like a Boxer to make you feel good. She taught me so much this dog and the thought of losing her is very difficult.
  2. Mast Cells - Need Advice

    Not yet Deve73 but as I've lost a couple of boxers this way (plus she is a Boxer, one that has already had spindle cell tumour at aged 4), I am pretty sure. If I was back in Australia it would be easy to have them biopsied and graded. Here in India, things are not that simple. But I do know from experience with my other boxers with Mast cell tumours, each time about the size of a 5 cent piece, I had them removed and graded, each time showing they were grade II but there was never a suggestion of full xrays and scans afterwards. We had clear margins each time and was recommended a wait and see approach but it didn't prevent them losing their lives to them within 2 years. I don't think xrays or scans at the time of removal would have shown anything at all. The problems start after removal. In fact I have a feeling removal contributes to a process that starts them spreading. Just a gut feeling.
  3. Mast Cells - Need Advice

    That sounds like an awful lot of treatment and an awful lot of expense Dave73 for a 2mm tumour??? My girl as about 7 lumps, the largest about the size of a marble and have just had an ultrasound to confirm there are no internal masses, which there aren't at this stage, thank goodness. I would like to hope vets don't take advantage of our love for our pets and overservice to extract more dollars. I don't know all the story Dave73 so I may be wrong, but that was my first reaction reading your post.
  4. Mast Cells - Need Advice

    Hi, would like to give you my own experiences of MCT. I've lost 2 boxers to MCT, one dog was aged 9 the other 10. Boxers and Staffy's are both very prone to these it seems which is such a shame as they are both wonderful breeds. With my first experience, when my dog Chopper was 7 I noticed a small lump on his scrotum. I took him to the vet. He didn't like the look of it and suggested removal. As he was desexed there was lots of skin there so margins were easy. While he was under though he found a smaller lump in his right groin, which he also removed. These were tested and proved to be grade 2 MCT's. His prognosis was still good, I read a lot and convinced myself that was the end of it, even though I read that MCT's on the back end of a dog are statistically more serious. About 8 months later, when he was rolling around on the grass one day, I noticed another lump in his groin, on the other side. Unlike the last one this one was the size of a small hens egg and deep under the skin and it had come up quickly. I took him to the vet again and he wanted to remove it, just to see what it was. I didn't think it was that straight forward. It would be a big surgery given the location of the tumour and I felt that the decision had to be made in the best interest of my dog, not in the professional curiosity of the vet so I went home and discussed it with my husband. Our thoughts were that this was likely to be the cancer spreading. This was not a new cancer, especially as it was in his groin again where all the lymph nodes would be. We could keep operating and hope no more lumps happened but if it was in his lymph nodes it would be circulating through his system and no amount of surgery was going to stop it. We decided to treat him holistically and with love and care and take what we got. For about a year things went ok but then the tumour started growing like mad. We had him put down almost 2 years to the day from the date of the first surgery. As I said he was 9 years old. The tumour was then the size of a grapefruit and the skin was stretched over it so tight we risked it splitting. He still seemed 'ok' in himself but we knew it was time. I somewhat regret not having that tumour removed in hindsight, not because it would have saved him but because it caused him so much discomfort at the end. Perhaps other tumours in other organs would not have been so uncomfortable but maybe they would have been more painful. I don't know. My second experience was a little different. Bella was 9 when we noticed 2 lumps on her neck. We had them both removed straight away and tested. One was a grade 2 MCT, just like the last dog, and one was harmless. We took on our approach of wait, watch, love and care again and this time no more lumps appeared but after about 18 months, I started noticing changes in her. Her appetite was sometimes off and she wouldn't eat for a day. Her stools were very thin and she seemed to struggle to pass them. Some days she seemed to have abdominal pain. We took her to the vet a number of times (new location, new vet unfortunately)and they kept telling me she was fine. Her blood work was fine, her coat was shiny, she was bright and eating. They gave her some medications for pancreatitis but generally seemed unconcerned. In Jan of last year we moved overseas where my husband was going to work for a while. Our daughter took Bella but I had grave reservations. I knew something wasn't right but I couldn't get anyone to believe me. Our daughter lived in another town so again another vet. I told her my concerns and my gut feeling that we should perhaps do the inevitable before we left, saving our daughter the prospect of going through some sort of crisis without us. She did the bloods again, they were ok, she looked good and with the vet's reassurance and scheduled follow ups every couple of weeks, we left. First follow up after 2 weeks went fine, second one after another 2 weeks the same and the vet decided to make the next follow up should be 6 weeks, because she looked so good. A few days later our daughter found her under the house in obvious pain and distress and rushed her to the vet. Again the vet thought it was unlikely to be serious but told her to go home, they would do an ultrasound to be sure but come back after work. She didn't even get home before she got the call to come back. Bella had a massive mass inside and would not survive. She was sedated and our daughter took her home for one night so that others could say goodbye and the next morning she was quietly put down. Again this was almost exactly 2 years from first lump surgery and only a few weeks from the point where my gut suggested I should make the hard decision before we left. We are now going through it again with our third boxer (who we bought overseas with us). Lana is now 7 and has had a lump removed from the inside of her front leg about 18 months ago. This one had aspirations done on it twice, no mast cells (thank goodness) and I was told both times it was a histiocytoma and would go away. It didn't. Just before we left for overseas it was suggested by the QAS vet that it be removed. It was tested and found to be a grade 2 spindle cell tumour but we couldn't get clear margins as there is simply no spare skin there. At least with this prognosis I didn't instantly panic. It was not an MCT. That was all I cared about. This tumour had also first appeared when she was only 4 years old so I had every confidence that the path we were on with this one was different. Now, 18 months and 2 countries later, we are living in India. In the last 6 weeks new lumps have appeared, 2 small ones on the inside of her front legs, one on each side (spindle cell likely) and one very MCT looking one on the back of her right back leg. Chemo etc will not be an option here, I'm not even confident about surgery. Dogs are not treated the same here as they are in Australia. There are thousands of street dogs and most people fear dogs in general, especially my boxer who they think looks like a fighting dog. So far I have not had the lumps checked out. She had a gastro bug some weeks ago and I took her to a recommended vet and found a small shop about 2 meters by 3 meters with 2 surgery tables inside and 4 more surgery tables outside on the footpath and in the car park, treating numerous small dogs, going straight from one to another with no wipedown etc. I'm not sure what I will do as yet. This is a long post and not a particularly happy one. I know there are some good outcomes for some dogs but for me, much as I love them, I will never get another boxer. I just can't bear to lose another one this way. Hope this helps.
  5. Some Questions Re Boxer With Mct

    Thank you for that.. Yes I have read Ollie's story and I would love to think our outcome will be as positive. I have all my fingers and toes crossed and live in hope that vets just make fairly general statements about these things based on what they see but that each case is individual and affected by many factors. My Chopper is such a lovely dog, such a gentleman and so well behaved, I couldn't ask for a better companion and the thought of losing him is very hard. 9 years just doesn't seem that long, it has gone by so fast.. Thank you for the suggestions re Maxalon and Carafate, I will ask the vet next visit. My experience is that Maxalon makes them pretty drowsy, do you find that?? As for the carbs, the vet I went to was very good (chiropractor, somewhat alternative in style, provides lots of holistic advice and provides alternative treatments if she believes they provide reasonable alternative eg. herbal anti-inflammatories for my other boxer with back problem) but she recommended a home cooked diet based on 1/3 meat, 1/3 vegies and 1/3 grain (brown rice recommended). Rice must have lots of carbs, do you think just meat and vegies is the go? Have you heard of cases where an existing (large) tumour has not continued to grow and further spread? Did your Ollie go into remission only once all the lumps were removed? My concern and constant reminder of Chopper's condition is this large tumour in his groin. I don't think that removing it with wide margins is even possible now and given that it came up so quickly I'm not even sure that we would have found it in time to remove it with any confidence back then and I'm pretty sure that the stress of the surgery on his somewhat weakened condition now would not provide enough benefit to make it worth while. Thank you again for your kind words and suggestions, they are much appreciated.
  6. I have been reading the threads in this forum for some ideas about how to best look after my 9 year old boxer Chopper who was last week given only a few more months. He had a lump removed from his scrotum about 15 months ago that turned out to be a grade 2 MCT. When removing the lump the vet found another smaller one in his right groin and removed that too, also a grade 2 MCT. A few months afterwards I found an egg sized lump in the other groin that appeared to have come up very quickly. We had this needle aspirated and found it to be full of blood. The vet thought a it therefore must have been a haematoma but the site was a very unlikely one for that, being so protected. He thought it was possible that it was also another tumour that, if rapidly growing and trying to establish a blood supply, could have filled with blood and blown up quickly. It was involved in, or in the region of, the lymph node, suggesting a tumour spread but we decided to wait and see if it went down, as a haematoma should. The vet wanted to remove it to determine what it was but I really thought that if it was in the lymph node and therefore a spread, that further surgery would only answer the question about what it was, not necessarily do anything for Chopper either in the short or the long term. If it was a haematoma, it should've just gone down again. While I find it hard not knowing all the facts that extensive testing and/or surgery could provide I feel like I would only be doing these things for my own benefit, not for his. Some months on, after initially reducing in size a bit, the lump in his groin is again at least the size of an egg and seems to be forming extra nodules on the outside and has a thickened area spreading towards his middle. Over the last year, his only symptoms of his disease seemed to be markedly increased thirst and persistent vomiting. The vomiting has me very confused because it seems to take him so much by surprise. He does not appear uncomfortable beforehand and it can seem to just hit him out of the blue. It is most often in the morning, usually some 12 hours or more after eating but is definitely his meal from the night before, pretty well undigested. Shouldn't food be digested within about 4 hours as it is with humans or are dogs different? Does the vomiting and the lack of digestion mean that he feels nauseated as well? The vet put him on cortisone (or prednisone?) a few months back and that is definitely helping to reduce the vomiting but I've also read that it can attack the stomach lining. MCT's are also supposed to attack the stomach lining causing vomiting and blood in the stools so why is this used and why does this seem to be reducing the vomiting? I have also had him to a more naturapathic vet last week who added anti-oxidants, fish oil, home cooked meals and anti-histamines to his regimen but after checking him out and feeling the tumour she thought it likely that we would only have him for a few more months, 6 if we were lucky. She says that the vomiting is likely to be the key to knowing when the time is right to have him put to sleep but he looks so well (and fat! even fatter now that he's on the steroids) and apart from not being as active or tiring more easily, doesn't seem much different to the dog we had before all this happened. I get so sad thinking I'm going to lose him but want so much to do what's right for him, not necessarily what's good for me, but am somewhat confused by all the literature and all the options. I don't know how I'm going to know when it's time or just what I should or shouldn't be doing for him. I am trying to make his life as comfortable and happy as possible but am looking for any advice/suggestions helpful to either him or me. Does anyone have any ideas or struggled with similar questions?