Meet Penny, our August patient of the month. Penny is a spunky, fun loving, 4 year old pit bull who belongs to one of our small animal assistants, Elise. Seven weeks ago, Penny was diagnosed with a high-grade Mast Cell Tumor in her nose. Elise noticed in May that Penny had been sneezing a lot and that the inside of her nose seemed to be a little swollen. Penny met with Dr. Karyn Cook to address the original concern of sneezing. Antibiotics didn’t seem to make a difference so after two months of sneezing Penny met with Dr. Karyn again. Dr. Karyn suggested Penny be sedated and have her teeth checked, thinking it could possibly be an abscessed tooth; she also recommended a nasal biopsy to rule out anything odd. Dr. Shari Bearrow took on the task of taking skull radiographs, a biopsy of the nose and checking her teeth. The radiographs were normal and her teeth were healthy so the doctors were relying on biopsy results to make a plan. We all assumed the biopsy would come back as an allergy and that Penny may just need to be on oral medication seasonally.
When the results came back on July 8th, Elise was devastated. High-grade Mast Cell Tumors can act very aggressively and the prognosis was guarded. After Dr. Shari consulted with pathologists, Penny was given six months to live if immediate action wasn’t taken. Chemotherapy alone would not give her much time and Penny and Elise would have to travel to Colorado State University to pursue either radiation therapy or a ‘nosectomy.’ Three weeks after the initial news, Penny and Elise drove out to CSU to meet with a team of specialists and make a plan. Penny underwent a CT Scan and a rhinoscopy and after nearly eight hours at CSU, Elise sat down with a wonderful team of specialist and ultimately decided that pursuing a ‘nosectomy’ would give Penny the best chance of survival.
On August 5th, nearly one month after the initial diagnoses, Penny went in for a four-hour surgery to remove a large portion of her nose as well as remove her left lymph node because the cancer had begun to spread. She stayed in CSU’s Intensive Care Unit for two days before being released. Once home, Penny struggled to adjust. Her nose was painful and swollen, she continued to lick at it and by doing so, pulled apart the sutures and had to have Dr. Karyn preform a ‘repair surgery’ a week after returning home. Since the repair surgery, Penny and Elise have taken it one day at a time. Penny continues to be a little more herself each and everyday, she’s even doing hot laps around the house when Elise gets home from work! With Penny healing up well, she will begin Chemotherapy with Dr. Shari this week. It will be an eight-week course of treatments and by the end, we all hope Penny will be cancer free! She’s been in the very best of hands at CSU and now at All West Veterinary. Her battle isn’t over, to keep up with Penny’s fight, visit her Facebook page, “Penny’s Big Fight” and watch her kick cancers butt!