There is a spoiler in the title as to what it is.
Something a little more serious now. You may or may not remember me talking about the oral cancer my dog Buster got. I want to talk a little more about that and the treatment of that cancer. There is so little on the internet about the “Canine Oral Melanoma” only a few story’s of other dogs. I thought it would be right to go through mine and more importantly my dogs experience of it. Cancer is awful but this treatment in it self is not something that is nice, or that can easily done. The “Rostral Lateral Maxillectomy” (what a mouthful) is a very invasive surgery, which is basically taking a big chunk of a jaw out.
But i should really start at the beginning, that always the best place to start.
Like all dog’s my dog buster likes to relax (https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/just-chillaxing/) he likes to lay on his back. One night while i was laid on the sofa, buster (a 12 year labrador cross) seeing me on the sofa came to lie on his back at foot of the sofa, i assume so that i could stroke him. It was in this position that i saw something red in his my mouth, no it was not his gum’s, it was a much more bloody red. After closer inspection me and my mum could see it was a large lump, it was on the top right side of his mouth. I was shock that no one in my family has seen it before. Like you do with anything you love, you think the worse. After a bit of research that night we found that it could either be, a cancers lump, or a non cancers lump. A visit to the vets was then arranged for the next day, where the vet told it could either be, a cancers lump or a non cancers lump. Whatever the case was, it needed to be taken out. Buster was booked it for surgery the following week, where he would have half of it removed, which then would then examine to find out what it was.
There is a spoiler in the title as to what it is.
One week later he had his operation, a simple affair. It made him groggy but he was fine the next day. We then had just to wait for the results. I believe a week and a half later my mother got a call from the vet’s. Not only was it bad news but it was very bad news. It was a cancer but it was also a melanoma cancer, which as you may or not know is one of the worse cancers he could get. It was fast spreading so if it had not already spread past his mouth, in to his body, it soon would. That was also the reason why we had not spotted the lump before, it had likely not been there for very long. It was not the best prognosis (understatement), but there was a chance that with the “Rostral Lateral Maxillectomy” (I will now call it getting his jaw removed) they may get the cancer out before it spreads. Any dog lover know that you want to give your best friend, a family member even, the best chance to live; so we did it. The vet explained that they would remove a portion of his top jaw, where the lump was.
We needed to get it done as soon as possible to make give as little time as possible for the cancer to spread. A couple of day’s later he was to have it.
I was so worried for him, it is very hard to send someone to such an invasive surgery, it does not help that you can’t explain the situation to him. Feeling like somehow he would hold me responsible and not be my friend any more, but dog are so forgiving. However we had two choices, one: of him dieing within weeks, or giving him a chance to live longer; it was not that hard.
So in he went for his trip to the vets, at this point buster was sick of the sight of the place. And so we sent him off on his own, and gave him to the man who took in to the back and we walked away. He was to be in for two days and one night. On the night of the surgery, the vet called. He said that Buster in himself was OK, he has lost quite a lot of blood. We were also told that in an effort to try and make sure that they get all the cancer out that instead of just a chunk, it would be his whole right top side of his Jaw. That in it self was quite disturbing, i was now scared over how he would look, as well the cancer. That was of a lesser concern to the cancer, but i couldn’t help think of my cute dog and how much he would change.
I look a little fat in that last photo. It’s the angle, honest. But back to the whole thing. The next day we went out to collect buster, at first we was called in to the vet. He explained that it would be a shock to see him, his face would be all bloody and shaved, it would not be nice to see. He then said they would be sending the edges of the jaw that they took out, pickle them, and then scan to see if the cancer was at the edges yet. If it was, it would mean that it would have spread past where they cut, if not then maybe they got it all out. He also explained that most of the time with this type of cancer, it will come back in another location; that could be a year though.
He then brought out Buster. It was a big shock, his face looked very different, he looked like he has been in an awful fight. He has a “Buster” collar on, not named after him just the name of those big plastic buckets. He would have to ware this for a week, maybe a little more.
Once we got him home, he was zonked, so tired from the ordeal and the anesthetic. He had to be given water by hand that first day, but after that he managed to drink water out of his bowl, with only the trouble caused by the buster collar. Food wise we had to change his diet but only for a couple of weeks. Instead of his normal diet of a combination of wet food and hard food we just changed to soft meat, those pedigree pouch thing’s. After that him managed fine with his normal diet, he soon adjusted to eating on one side of his mouth.
Not long after we got to remove the buster collar off buster, we got another call from the vet with the results of the pickle test. Good news, no cancer on the edges of the removed jaw. This didn’t mean he would not get cancer again, far from it. It Just meant instead of weeks to live, he had months and hopefully a year or more!!
Now over a month later from the operation, we are having no problems. He drinks and eats fine and is as active as ever. Once the initial shock of his look was out of the way, we soon got used to that. Also once the blood got cleared away, some hair grew back and his mouth heal some more, he looked much better.
So now we wait. We love our dog as much as before, give him lot’s of attention and make his life as full as possible (ours too, cancer happens to people as well!). And hope when/if we hear he has cancer again it’s not for a good long while. 1 month and counting.
I will of course update this blog if any new complication happen or anything
I hope no dog or any pet owner has to go through this, but i also hope that if they do, that this helped them understand it a little better. Every case will of course be different and i’m only going through my experience and what the vet has told us. If anyone has any question’s don’t hesitate to ask me here and i will answer as soon as possible.
I probably should have done the update sooner, but I always find it hard writing anything personal… anyway, the cancer came back. The cancer has repapered (like the vet thought it probably would) above the place where he had part of his jaw taken out. The first sign was a tiny lump, which soon grew. After taken him to the vets (in October, about 6 months after the operation) the only options for us that would not have hampered his life quality further, would be chemotherapy drug Leukeran. But the even the optimistic predictions from the vet would mean, my lovely dog would not be here now. Yet, like the fighter he is, Buster lives still. He still enjoys food, walks, and has a good quality of life. Last week, he went out in the countryside and chased ducks like a dog 10 years younger. But still the time is nearing when his quality of life will fall below, that level, which means we couldn’t allow him any more suffering.
I’d just like to say even though the cancer did come back, I would not change giving my dog the invasive operation back at the end of march. We still have nearly got a year of extra life from him, and I think that is more than worth it.
On this Day sadly buster had passed away, but if anyone still has question about the operation and after effects don’t hesitate to ask,