Tia Wolff has become a frequent visitor and special patient at Vet4life this year. In less than six months she has suffered a double cancer diagnosis and lung disease, and is much deserving of September's Big Bear Award for bravery.
When Tia first came to see us in July 2012, her owner was concerned by a skin lump on her left side. The mass had grown from a tiny inconspicuous bump to a two centimetre tumour in one year. Also cause for concern was the fact that Tia had become progressively slower on walks and was generally lethargic. Although Tia was an older dog, her owner just knew something wasn't right.
A sample was taken by fine needle aspiration (FNA) and submitted for cytology. Unfortunately the mass was diagnosed as a Mast Cell Tumour, an invasive form of skin cancer. Surgical removal with wide margins was required to ensure all the of the mast cell tumour was removed. Chest xrays were also taken to check for any signs of spread of the tumour. Thankfully the lungs were clear of any metastases and Tia's surgery went smoothly with no complications.
Despite successful surgical removal of the mast cell tumour Tia's lethargy persisted. By August she had developed an increase in her breathing effort. Ian repeated her chest X-rays and identified new changes in her lungs when compared to the pre-operative X-rays. Tia's unstable breathing meant that a general anaesthetic to further investigate her lung disease would have been high risk. It was decided to treat Tia for inflammatory lung disease.
She initially responded very well to her treatment with anti-inflammatories. She was once again bright and enthusiastically running ahead on walks. However, it was soon noticed that Tia was now gradually losing weight. On physical examination Ian detected generalised enlargement of her lymph nodes. He performed a fine needle aspiration of Tia's swollen lymph nodes. Looking at the FNA sample under the microscope Ian identified a predominance of immature lymphoblast cells, some showing signs of malignancy. The news was not good - Tia had lymphoma, another form of cancer.
On hearing the sad news of Tia's second cancer diagnosis, her owner was prepared to do everything she could to help Tia through her illness. Tia was quickly started on another round of cancer treatment - this time with chemotherapy. She has now received her first month of chemotherapy and is so far responding excellently to treatment. Apart from a few days of nausea, she is bright and doing well. Tia is now a weekly visitor at the Vet4life clinic and she still always greets us with her tail wagging.
She truly is a brave little dog and well deserving of a Big Bear Award!