Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Family Fiascos

Wow--what a week. I apologize for the delay in blogging, but the family drama in the past 7 days has just been off the charts. If you've been following my tweets or seen my Facebook statuses or talked to us at all lately then you probably know the details of what's going on, but let's just say that last Wednesday through Friday was downright crazy. One of our family members was involved in a sort of domestic conflict that was extremely stressful and emotionally draining. We're thankful that the end result is ultimately going to be an improvement, but things are going to be a little chaotic around here for a while as we work through lots of changes!

After a couple of calmer days over the weekend, our next emotional ordeal started on Monday. Actually, the story really started over four years ago when Celtic had an egg-sized lipoma removed from his armpit, and then it continued when we took him to Hope's surgeon Dr. Layton a year later to see if she could remove it again, since it had grown back even larger than before. She couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't grown back after a second surgery, and Hope's surgery was obviously more pressing, and Celtic's armpit tumor wasn't really bothering him, so we made the decision not to do surgery at all.

Over the next several years Celtic's tumor continued to grow, and although it had grown to the size of a baseball, it didn't seem to impede his mobility, so we didn't worry too much about it. We asked the vet if there was any worry that it could have changed into something other than a lipoma, and our vet didn't think that was a possibility. We just kind of ignored it until a few weeks ago, about the time that Hope had her lipoma removed and her teeth cleaned. It suddenly looked as though Celtic was limping a little on his tumor arm, and within another week we could see his front leg was actually bowed out a bit. We decided to make another appointment with Dr. Layton in KC to see if she would still be willing to "debulk" it, knowing that in another few years it would probably grow back.

So I took him to Dr. Layton on Monday, and while her staff was working on an estimate for his surgery, she decided to take a needle aspirate of the mass. Unfortunately, the samples she took were not fatty tissue like she expected. She only got blood, which told her that the tumor was something more than a lipoma, and was connected in a way that meant it was going to be a lot more difficult to remove. Celtic stayed at the hospital for x-rays, a CT scan and blood work, and unfortunately we didn't get very good news from all the tests. The surgeon and a consulting radiologist are pretty sure that Celtic's tumor is cancer. This was certainly not what we expected to hear. Somehow his benign fatty tumor grew a malignant tumor, but we couldn't tell because the fatty tumor was so big!

To add insult to injury, he is also anemic (which might be because of the tumor--Dr. Layton's not sure) and he has a urinary tract infection! The poor guy is falling apart at the seams and we didn't even know! He goes for a walk every day, has a good appetite and generally seems pretty happy, so we were just completely clueless that there was anything (besides old age and his recent back problem) bothering him!

So our first option is to do nothing until Celtic can no longer walk because of the size of the tumor, at which point we'd likely have to put him to sleep because his tumor will be even more difficult to remove and his overall health will be too bad for surgery. There's also a possibility that the tumor could eventually burst, which would also be a terrible end result. Unfortunately, because of the rapid rate that this tumor has been growing as of late, we're afraid that either of these things could happen within a month or so.

Option two is to do surgery fairly soon, which we've tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday. Unfortunately, this surgery doesn't come without some pretty major risks. Because the tumor is so connected to Celtic's vascular system and attached to so much other tissue, the surgery may be fairly lengthy and complicated, and Celtic might not survive being anesthetized for as long as it takes to complete. Because of the vascular involvement, too much bleeding during surgery might be a problem and he might need a transfusion. Finally, opening up his cancerous tumor could cause it's growth to accelerate, making his cancer and overall health worse after surgery and not better.

With all that said, we've decided that the surgery at least has a chance of giving him a few more quality months of life. Dr. Layton thinks it's his best bet, and since we think she's astounding and amazing, we trust that it's the best decision. At least we're praying that it is! We're praying that if surgery isn't the best thing for him, the door on that option will close after his blood work is done on Monday. If his anemia or infection is worse at that time, surgery might not be an option at all, so I guess that will be our sign that we should forgo the surgery and just let nature take its course. Of course we're hoping that the infection can be treated with a few days of antibiotics and that some supplements might help the anemia, so hopefully our little man will be as healthy as possible for his surgery next Tuesday! We would appreciate your prayers between now and then!


cw said...

While it is hard to know the right thing to do, I'm comfortable with our decision to be proactive. Family and friends, please pray that Celtic is granted at least a few more months with us.

James said...

Definitely praying for Celtic, you two, and the vet involved. I'm sure this is a really tough time of uncertainty, but I'm sure you're enjoying every day you have with him.