This will be a new weekly feature- the history of the Poms! To start, the Pom that started my social media journey, the late, great, never forgotten Blind Dog Jack, aka Jack (mostly known as Jack-Jack). My heart dog. His story will take a while to tell. He has influenced my life so much and lead me on the path I am on now in so many ways.
This time of the year is always the hardest for me. Today marks 11 years since I made the decision to adopt Jack. It also marks the time of year when we found the tumor in his mouth 6 years ago.
Let’s start with a few months before that- July of 2011. Jack was a frequent flier at the ophthalmologist. He had Progressive Retinal Atrophy which caused him to lose all of his sight. He also had keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as dry eye. During July I noticed his left eye looked bulgy. He had increased tearing and something was telling me to take him to the eye doc. So I booked an appointment ASAP.
The eye doctor, one I had not seen before, took a look at Jack and told me that I was “crazy” that his eye was fine and that I needed to “stop looking for problems.” I was ASTOUNDED. I had barely said anything other than “it looks like his left eye is bulgy and there’s more tearing.” I was so in shock that I believed her. Maybe my instincts were wrong and there wasn’t anything wrong, it was just an illusion caused by the increased tearing maybe from allergies, as she explained.
Fast forward to November, 2011. It was a day like every other. Jack went with me to work and grabbed a chew off of the shelf. A few weeks earlier Jack had a dental and all was well, so when I noticed a few drops of blood from his mouth I was immediately concerned. I opened his mouth and saw something that hadn’t been there a few weeks before- a tumor on the top left side of his mouth. Thankfully my vet at the time was only a few blocks away, so I rushed him there without even calling and making an appointment.
Squamous cell carcinoma- that was the first potential diagnosis by my vet. He told me to get him in to Purdue ASAP, but considering how fast it grew he most likely only had weeks to live. I was devastated. I remember the feeling of heaviness as those words weighed on me. I shakily called Purdue and got an appointment with Oncology a week later. The only day that was available was November 10th- my birthday- also Jack’s adoption anniversary.
My Mom and I packed up the Poms and headed down to her house in Indiana before the appointment. Jack looked so good otherwise- he ate voraciously, he had well, as much energy as Jack ever had, he LOOKED good. He didn’t LOOK like a dog with cancer.
My first words when we met with the oncology resident were “it’s my birthday and this is my heart dog, I can’t handle hearing bad news!” She was very sweet. She agreed squamous cell carcinoma was a possibility, but she thought more likely it was melanoma, which is more treatable. First step was a CT scan and debulking and pathology of the tumor. Jack stayed overnight at Purdue for the scan and surgery.
The CT scan showed the tumor had started behind his left eye. I was correct that his left eye WAS bulging, and it was because a tumor was pressing on it. The tumor had traveled from behind his left eye down to his mouth, where it came out his maxilla- where I had found it. If he were a human it would be a tumor the size of a softball. The pathology wasn’t back yet, but at that point based on the timeline we could rule out squamous cell carcinoma- phew!
It took a few weeks, and more testing (including a bone marrow aspirate) to determine the type of cancer- it was a plasmacytoma. A round cell tumor. Basically the best kind of cancer you could get there. Radiation was the best treatment, and it was set to start right after Thanksgiving.
…more next week!