Cancer is a disease that affects thousands of Canadian families each year. While it’s a disease that attacks humans, many animals, including family pets, will face the fight as well. This new blog by Leanne Sillers, the Saskatchewan SPCA’s Animal Safekeeping Coordinator, will document what her family experiences as Jack, their beloved golden retriever, begins treatment for a mast cell tumour.
Follow Leanne and Jack’s journey as they navigate their way through a life-changing situation.
In the blink of an eye….
By Leanne Sillers, BSW, RSW
Animal Safekeeping Coordinator
It amazes me, still at my age, how things can still catch me off guard. What started out as a routine physical for my 3-year-old golden retriever, Jack (Jackpot as some of you may know him), has begun a journey that I was not expecting. On Tuesday [Oct. 10], Jack had his regularly scheduled yearly exam. We attend the vet college here in Saskatoon; they take such good care of him. As they were asking me about him, I mentioned how he had a small lump on the right side of his back leg. It had been there a few months, sometimes it was big but then it would shrink. They proceeded to go through the options as to what it might be – a lymphoma, a cyst, or a small chance of a mast cell tumor. Of course the mere thought of a tumor got me upset, but I figured he is young and healthy; it’s probably nothing. They proceeded to insert a small needle into the lump to take a sample.
Fast forward to Wednesday [Oct. 11] at 3 pm. The phone rings from the vet college with results of his blood work and the sample. The vet says “all the blood work is good, but now for the bad news: the lump, is in fact, a mast cell tumor.” She explains that she has made an appointment for Jack and me to see the oncologist next week to discuss treatment options.
I was in complete disbelief – Jack is 3, he exercises every day, he eats a raw food diet with supplements, I don’t over vaccinate; how can this be?! Immediately I googled mast cell tumor. So much information and I was not able to process it at the moment.
When I arrived home and saw my handsome golden – I burst into tears. I found myself looking at him, not as a healthy happy dog, but now ill and lethargic. I tried to remember his every move from the last six months to try figure how this could happen. It was a long night.
I know he is not a child who is seriously ill and am certainly not comparing this to any parent that has gone through that. Some people will say “he is just a dog.” But he is a member of my family, and an important one at that. He adds laughter and fun into my life. He provides unconditional love and acceptance. As a therapy dog, he does something with clients that I can’t even begin to explain, but he somehow makes them feel better for a short while.
Although I have only worked at the Saskatchewan SPCA since March, my co-workers and supervisors have been so kind and supportive. I am lucky to have that. They understand “he is not just a dog, he is my dog.” They understand the strength and importance of the human-animal bond.