Just before Christmas 2015, I found a very large lump near Fogg’s tail that literally showed up overnight. It didn’t bother her at all, but it was so large that it terrified me. Until that day, after 7 years of loving this sweet little furface, Fogg had only been sick 1 time (a UTI that fall). Not even a sniffle. She was always my healthy, happy babe.
I probably waited too long to get it checked out–thinking it might go away–but several days later, the vet told us it was a mast cell tumor and we decided on surgery. The odds were in our favor, if it hadn’t spread to her organs. A few days after that, I noticed something new that really worried me because it felt different and exactly like what some people described on the various forums I started religiously searching after I found the first bump.
When I took her in for her surgery, I made sure I mentioned this other thing. So, her surgeon took extra deep margins. A few days later, we got the devastating news that the smaller thing–the one that scared me so much–was something to be pretty scared about. A fibrosarcoma. Most likely caused by an injection when she got her vaccinations–though it was not in the area where they typically give shots. The mast cell tumor was removed without fan fare and there was nothing to worry about there…but the fibrosarcoma was a type of tumor known to be aggressive. Luckily, they had done pretty deep margins. But the vet said we might want to do another surgery to get even deeper margins. Which is what we planned to do. Only Fogg’s recovery hit a few hiccups when she got super sick and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. She almost died and spent a few days in the hospital. During that time, they noticed a thickening in her intestines that could be IBD or lymphoma. Without a biopsy, we wouldn’t know. But she was so fragile, we opted not to–since the vet felt like it was probably IBD and she was asymptomatic. We also opted not to do the surgery. Our surgeon agreed that it could do more harm than good. We thought this was probably over. She was doing well for a couple weeks, and then she got sick again. This time with DKA. And was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, she has had a very hard time being stable with her meds.
So, to say the past six months have been a rollercoaster of doubts, anxiety, relief, and extreme fear would be putting it mildly. I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to keep her alive. I now do things I never could have done a year ago–like injections twice a day. I’ve treated this animal like my child and have listened to friends tell me to put her down–always fighting for her while wondering if it was all for nothing.
Yesterday, we did our check to see how Fogg was doing. Over the last week or so, a new concern has emerged. Four small lumps on her back. The vet checked her and these are benign, harmless warts or skin tags. We can choose to remove them eventually–and we probably will if they get larger or if she’s bothered by them–but for now–we’re okay. Today, we got her test results back and we had glorious news. Fogg has finally reached maintenance stage. Her levels are consistently in control. She is still diabetic and needs this dose of insulin, but she is out of danger. I don’t have to feel afraid that she’s going to lapse into a coma at any point. And the best part? No vet appointments for three months! She has had such a hard time, and I am so happy to give her back some normal.
The other great news? It’s officially been six months since her surgery. Six months is a big deal because fibrosarcomas and mast cell tumors are big on recurrence. They usually show up in the same spots and they usually do a lot of damage. Recurrence is bad. Fixable, but really bad. Usually, if recurrence is going to happen, it’s within the first six months. It’s less likely after that–and if you can get to a whole year–it’s even less likely. For the last six months, I have checked her little rump every week, looking for little fingers of tissue. And luckily–thank God–there hasn’t been anything to worry about.
We’re not out of the woods, and we may never be with Fogg. But we made it six months, and this shitty year has taught us both what we’re truly made of. My little Fogg is a fighter, and she inspires me to keep going every single day.