Monday, November 20, 2017

Artemis has cancer.

If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I've known for a few days now.  It's just been hard for me to tackle this blog entry because it felt like, the minute I posted it here, it was more... real.

Artemis, my loyal, empathetic and intelligent Malshi, has a mast cell tumor on his right inner thigh (hind leg) and it is confirmed cancerous.

The sad part is that he's had this for a long time.  It usually appears as a pea-sized and flat dark pink spot.  Sometimes it would flare up and we would take him to the vet to have it "drained."  Two different vet clinics and none of them ever mentioned the word cancer to us.  They always just called it a pustule.

So when it flared up this past week, I took him to our new vet to have it drained.  I could tell, the minute she looked at it, that something was wrong.

"How have your previous vets not mentioned that this is cancer?"

I don't know.

Right now, we don't know the stage of it.  The first goal is to get him on steroids and an antihistamine to shrink it as small as we can get it.  Apparently, a mast cell tumor causes an immune reaction which makes the area inflamed.  In the course of three days, we've done this:

Then, this upcoming Friday, they'll remove the tumor and stage it.  The problem with mast cell tumors is that they don't spread like normal cancer.  Tumors can pop up unrelated to the original tumor itself.  So we have to make sure it's not in other organs before moving forward.

I will say that the vet is hopeful that it likely isn't Stage 3.  She thinks he has an incredibly low chance of it being that far along.  First, he's had this spot for forever and no other tumors have appeared.  Second, he has no symptoms commonly associated with this type of cancer.  No diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, blood in the stool - none of that.

The main worry for me is that he's had it for so long and no vet has ever, ever diagnosed it.  If I had known back in 2012 when I first spotted it, I would have had it removed then - even while we had zero funds.  Artie's health is so important to us and I'm so disappointed in vets right now.  We had some great ones who totally missed this, even when I brought it up.

Artemis is only nine years old.  Yes, he's a senior pup, but he's a small dog and a mixed breed, and should have an average of 14 years in him at minimum barring further health issues.  It's far too soon for him to go.

So how can you help?

This is the first question most readers have asked.  Initially, I had no idea.  I wasn't able to fully process the information myself.  But I now have two ways you can help out:

Candles for Artemis
Thursday, November 23rd at 7 pm CST to
end of the day Friday, November 24th

Artie's surgery and staging is scheduled for Friday at 7 am and he will be at the vet all day.  At 7 pm the night before, we have to put him on a fast.  Starting that evening, I'm going to set up an altar to Artie with several tealights.  Friends and family members are going to come from 7 pm that night all the way through his surgery until 5 pm Friday to light candles on an altar to Artie's health.  I'm cutting visitation off at 5 so I can go get him and he can rest at home without any excitement.

If you want to help Artie get better and send some healing energy his way, light a candle between those times and send me a picture.  You can either post it in the comments below or send it to me via e-mail, Facebook or Tumblr.

Bill Assistance
Or a direct call to our vet on Friday, November 24th:

Aaron and I have a savings.  We are not struggling to meet this bill, for once in our lives.  That being said, some readers have wanted to help financially anyway to alleviate the stress involved with the surgery, and we're certainly not going to say no.  If we don't have to dip into our winter savings, it would make the situation slightly less stressful.  The original vet appointment cost $140 on blood work, meds and a biopsy Thursday.  I'm looking at between $370-$570 for the surgery this upcoming Friday.  Until I know the stage, I don't know what else to expect.  So if you want to help us out in a physical world way, this would be the route to go.  Again, we have the savings.  This would just be alleviating financial stress.

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