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breast cancer surgery and follow-up care

  • Breed: Chihuahua
  • Name: Mini
  • Color: White
  • Size: Extra Small
  • Sex: Female
  • Age: Adult

$4,303.00 raised of $3,500.00

UPDATE August 17th 2018

Mini's Visit to Phoenix...

What is so sad....what should be learned from all this...is that none of this had to happen.  

Yesterday July 16th, we got up at 3:45 AM and after medicating the morning animals and dosing myself with strong coffee, Mini and I left at 6AM for our long drive up to North Scottsdale and Phoenix. 

Our first stop at 10 AM was at Dr. Brett Cordes at Arizona Animal Hospital in North Scottsdale. Dr. Brett has done a lot for CCR's animals and we consider him a friend. On this day he came in on his day off to help our little girl. 

Dr. Brett did an ultra sound and lung X-rays (at a major discount which made it worth the four hour drive up there.) We discussed the pathology report I brought up for his review and after reading it and performing his examination on Mini, he suggested not doing any surgery. 

While Mini's organs - liver, spleen, kidneys and on X-rays the lungs- did not show evidence of tumors, which as great news....all was not good. 

In addition to the lymph node removed during Mini's surgery in June which had evidence of metastisis, he had found an enlarged lymph node behind Mini's bladder. The metastisis had spread to abdominal lymph nodes. 

Dr. Brett gave me his ideas for giving her quality of life by providing her with an anti-inflamatory drug called Piroxicam, but also thought Dr, Hershey, the oncologist at IVO (our next stop) might have additional ideas. 

Yesterday afternoon was the first time we met with Dr. Hershey, and I must state I really liked her and the other folks at her practice, IVO, in central Phoenix. 

Dr. Hershey examined Mini including measuring the size of her breast tumors and we had a long discussion of options. She told me about small doses of daily chemo medication which is being found to provide the best outcomes for dogs who present like Mini...Dogs with Stage 4 Mammary cancer. We are hoping to give her a very comfortable year...but it has been known give dogs with similar disease spread like Mini's 2-4 years. 

Mini is a spunky little fighter so I can only hope for the best! 

Given that this disease is ultimately in all likelihood terminal, and we are most concerned with providing her with the longest possible Quality of Life, this is the protocol we will be following: 

Mini will receive the chemo drug Cyclophosphamide with another drug to help her bladder, Furosemide, once daily with breakfast. 

She will receive the anti-inflammatory drug Piroxicam once a day with her evening meal. 

These drugs usually are well accepted by the animals treated...but a small percentage have problems so we need to watch out for the obvious: anorexia, nausea, vomiting, blood in urine or stools.  

We will need to be conscientious about picking up Mini's stools because it would be dangerous for another dog to try to eat the chemo-containing poop (which, unfortunately) we know dogs are prone to do (yeah, ugh!) 

We have drugs here for both anorexia (from early on in Mini's recovery when she refused to eat) and for nausea (received from Dr. Monika.) Hopefully these will not need to be used but are on hand if needed. 

I immediately ordered the three drugs in her new protocol to be shipped on ice overnight from Diamondback Compounding Pharmacy in Phoenix as neither of the compounding pharmacies in Tucson make the chemo drug. We ordered two months worth as that was most cost effective, and it will give us appropriate time to see if she does well on the drugs. If she does, we can order three months at a time the next time for even better pricing. 

We will begin this protocol Wednesday as the drugs will be here mid-day on Tuesday. 

Dr. Monika here in Benson will be doing another complete blood work in a month and again in three months, sending results up to Dr. Hershey. If all is going as well as hoped, Mini will go back up to see Dr. Hershey (we have an appointment for November 19th) to have another ultrasound and X-rays to see whether the cancer is spreading, and whether the size of the lymph nodes and tumors is - hopefully! - being reduced by the medications. 

Obviously if the side effects are bad we will consider stopping this protocol as it is all about Mini's Quality of Life. However the goal and hope is to "buy" her a year or more of happiness and relative health. 

We have become so enamored with this little girl. The knowledge that she has come into our lives for such a relatively short period of time is heartwrenching ... but even knowing the sorrow of eventual loss, we would not change having her here for anything. 

YOU are the reason we can give Mini more Quality of Life time.  

We are nowhere near done and the costs for her care

will continue to be high....

Let's work together to make sure we can buy her the time she needs

to be stable and happy.

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 So we started this with "What is so sad....what should be learned from all this...is that none of this had to happen." THAT is the truth.  

According to my research, only 40% of all breast tumors in dogs become cancerous. If a lumpy, tumorous breast is removed, usually by a simple lumpectomy, the dog in all likelihood will be saved even if the tumor is shown to be cancerous. 

It is all about TIMING.  

By the time we took in Mini, by the time she was dumped at the pound to be destroyed, she was already in stage 4 cancer with numerous tumors and lymph node involvement. 

This situation was unnecessary.  

It could have been avoided.

It should never have gotten this far.

THAT is the heart break.....


UPDATES:

August second: Amazing news! Yesterday we took Mini in for her updated bloodwork and received great news.

Several weeks ago when her last blood work was done, Mini's white count (infection) was so high that it was literally off the chart at 57,000 and red cells were so anemic that they too were down at the  very cbottom of the chart. If we couldn ot get her towrd the middle no more surgery could ever be done on her.... She had almost died during the first surgery and would be sure to die if we tried to do more.

But great news! Yesterday BOTH her white count and her red cells were within the normal ranges!!! If her ultrasound (to be done in a couple of weeks the same day as we have our consultation with Mini's oncologist in Phoenix in a couple of weeks) does not show that the cancer has metastisized to major organs, we will ale to do surgeries to remove the tumors.

And if there has been metastisis,  and she cannot have surgery, Mini is now  strong enough to undergo chemo and radiation treatments!

While it is obvious that our little Mini is not yet out of the woods, for the first time since we took her in we are hopeful that she may get well or at least have a reasonable amount of time in comfort.

Will keep you all updated! And thank you for supporting little Mini!!



July 27th - Mini continues to eat well, gain weight and is active, obviously feeling better and stronger. She is making a few friends among the other small dogs here. Mini will have followup blood work and possibly X rays as well next week. There are two really nast tumors left and the other mammaries have smaller ones.

Mini's updated bloodwork, X rays and an unltrasound she will be having in a couple of weeks through another Veterinary associate will be sent to the oncologist for review before Mini's trip up to Phoenix for her first consultation to plan out future surgeries etc. HOLD A GOOD THOUGHT foro ur little one!!!

July 20 2018: Mini had the 26 staples removed from her incision. She is active and feeling much better...although she is still on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory pain medications and now CBD oil (thank you to those who had sent theat to her! It will be another 10 days before she can have further bloodwork done to assess when further surgery can safely be done. She will be seeing her oncologist within the next few weeks and in the interim will be having an ultrasound done to help with the future protocols.

Funds raised to date will cover a lot of these procedures, but we would very much appreciate further funding to insure that everything she needs will be done in a timely fashion!!

Thank You to everyone who has helped Mini to date....and Thank You to all of you considering helping her move into the future!!!


Mini's story:Mini's previous owners dropped her off at Pima Animal Care and Control to be euthanized. Of course, we here at Cochise Canine Rescue couldn't let that happen.


When we were considering taking her into our rescue, we were warned that she had "an ulcerated mass" on one of her mammaries... but it was so much worse than that. When we were putting her in the crate to take her home, Mini rolled onto her side, and we were horrified by the wound on her chest and under her left arm. There is a large, gaping, and necrotic hole that appears to have eaten into her underlying muscle. It is constantly oozing and draining. The hole is almost an inch in diameter, roughly the size of a quarter.

Pima's medical staff did blood work and x-rays on this very sick little girl. Unfortunately, the bloodwork showed systemic infection, anemia, and high white blood count. After speaking to a veterinarian, we obtained much stronger antibiotics. Within 24 hours of starting the new antibiotic, we have seen a lessening in the amount of "oozing" and smell of the discharge.

It is strongly suspected that this beautiful little girl has breast cancer. We will know exactly how far it has spread when she has her surgery. We will do whatever we can to save her life and make her as comfortable as possible.

Mini has been scheduled for surgery to remove the mass and close the ulcerated wound. However, she needs to be seen by a specialized veterinary oncologist who can assess this situation more effectively.

To support this angel, please donate to her care or purchase items from her wishlist to raise her spirits and give her hope.

UPDATE: July 15 - Mini is recovering and getting stronger after her first surgery.... but will need at least one more surgery as well as radiation/chemo therapy.  Next week our Vet will redo her bloodwork to see when she may be ready for her next surgery to remove more if not all of the remaining tumors.

PLEASE hold a good thought for this loving sweetheart and help us get her well!

July 17: Update: Mini will be going in to see our regular Vet Dr. Monika tomorrow and may have some if not all of her 26 staples removed!
 logist, Dr. Hershey, can decide whether she is ready for further surgery and who will do it.They may decide to begin chemo at that time as well. Our oncologist is up in Phoenix, which is a three hour drive each way but little Mini is worth the time to take care of her properly!!
Since Mini has been eating on her own and gaining weight, we can only hope the systemic infection which has been ravaging her body since before we received her is lessening. At last testing her red count was very low (anemic) and the white count was through the roof! We need to get things more balanced before further surgery can be done safely. As you may recall, during her first surgery she nearly died, going into shock and her temperature dropping from a dog-normal of 101 to 92.6!!! We do not want to have this happen again.
None the less, Mini is far more active and less fearful than she had been. She does rest a lot, which is good, but loves sitting on my lap (as she is right now) when I am on the computer...or hangs out and naps on the sofa chair with her little buddies.

Updates

  • Mini will be going in for further blood work next week and at that point our regular Vet Dr. Monika, and the oncologist, Dr. Hershey, can decide whether she is ready for further surgery and who will do it..They may decide to begin chemo at that time as well. Our oncologist is up in Phoenix, which is a three hour drive each way but little Mini is worth the time to take care of her properly!!


    Since Mini has been eating on her own and gaining weight, we can only hope the systemic infection which has been ravaging her body since before we received her is lessening. At last testing her red count was very low (anemic) and the white count was through the roof! We need to get things more balanced before further surgery can be done safely. As you may recall, during her first surgery she nearly died, going into shock and her temperature dropping from a dog-normal of 101 to 92.6!!! We do not want to have this happen again.


    None the less, Mini is far more active and less fearful than she had been. She does rest a lot, which is good, but loves sitting on my lap (as she is right now) when I am on the computer...or hangs out and naps on the sofa chair with her little buddies. 

    July 16, 2018


  • Minu Update July 4th
    Mini has been on a rocky road since surgery.

    On July 2nd we received the pathology report. The cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. She will require more surgery, if possible given her fragile state, followed by treatments, to buy her time.... 

    The night of July 2nd to 3rd was terrifying as a large amount of leakage became apparent from her large incision. She was not feeling well, and spent the night sleeping in my arms.

    Yesterday morning, July 3rd, we rushed her to our Vet, thinking she might not make it. Her blood work was redone and showed that things had not improved, in fact had become somewhat worse due to the stress of the surgery. But, the Vet, Dr. Monica, assured us that the seepage was normal and that the incision itself was looking good. She also told us that the staples should remain in longer than we were originally told as Mini's skin is thin and due to her cancer will heal very slowly.

    Mini had been eating well since surgery but yesterday refused food. The Vet put her on a wonderful appetite stimulant and by afternoon she was eating and becomeing active. She  definitely has become a mommas-girl, following me around, making sure I am always within her line of vision.

    Today Mini is doing better. She got her normal morning meds: Antibiotic and two pain/anti-inflammatories...and will get the appetite stimulent again around noon.

    Right now she is sleeping on my laps while I am writing....

    She has wormed her way into our hearts very quickly.

    Thank you all for your support....

    July 04, 2018


  • Mini Surgical update 062918

    Mini almost died yesterday, but, little fighter that she is, she pulled through…

    Yesterday Mini and I left a 5:30 for her 7 AM drop-off at the Pima Animal Care and Control's hospital for the surgery to remove her masses and close up her wounds.

    Before surgery they performed another blood test to insure that she was able to have surgery. Apparently everything was within acceptable parameters. The surgeon decided that Mini needed complete radial mastectomy i.e. all mammary glands and lymph nodes removed. They told me this would be done in two stages about 4-6 weeks apart. The skin, given the size of her open wound, did not allow for enough skin to close both sides at this time. Around 11 Am they took her into surgery and began. They told me surgery would take 1-2 hours.

    They also asked whether our regular veterinarian could perform the second procedure. I asked why, but never got a reasonable answer.

    I called my Vet in Benson, and she agreed to see Mini, look at her medical records and give us an estimate for costs.

    All of this was before the shit hit the fan. They told me to be back in an hour or two. So I decided to do a bit of local shopping.

    Shortly before noon I received a call: Mini's surgery was stopped after the removal of the major mass, lymph nodes on the left side and they chad closed her up.

    Her temperature had dropped from a normal range of 101-102 to 92.6 degrees. She was in shock. She was dying.

    Mini was placed on a heating pad and covered with a blanket. A Vet tech sat with her for the next few hours. At around 98 degrees, she woke up. Slowly her temperature crept back up to 100.8. They took her off the heating pad. Within a few hours she was up on her feet and by 4 PM she was drinking a little water on her own.

    They gave me the tumor they had removed which was about 2.5” by a half inch thick as well as the lymph node which was about an inch in diameter. I rushed them up to University of Arizona Diagnostic Lab, where CCR has an account. When I spoke to UofA today they told me that they would have the results Monday.

    I was told by Pima's surgeon that depending what the pathology showed, she would decide whether she would continue the first side's surgery to refer to a specialist. I will speak with both our regular vet once we have more information as well as Dr. Hershey the oncologist in Phoenix.

    At 4:30 I left Tucson and headed for home.

    The hospital called me around 7 PM. Mini, they told me was stable, although unwilling to eat. Nothing new there I explained…but this morning she was eating and drinking on her own.

    Although they told me I could pick her up today late afternoon, Jeff and I both felt one more night in hospital would be in her best interest. I pick her up between 10 and noon tomorrow, Saturday.

    Please continue to hold a good thought for our little girl.

    June 29, 2018


  • Mini's pain medications and new antibiotics are kicking in. There is a difference in Mini's activity level and friendliness. She has gone from having her tail tucked between her legs and curled up in a ball, to standing and wagging her tail. We have even been able to take her for short walks today. 

    She wants to feel better and continue living a happy life, and we are determined to help her. We need your help to save her!


    June 24, 2018