What a relief! Cody is having surgery tomorrow morning and her prognosis for a full recovery - cancer-free - is excellent. Here's what happened.
We went to Guelph this afternoon. For those not in this area, the University of Guelph has a huge veterinary college and teaching hospital with an excellent reputation. It's the kind of place people travel great distances to for; we're fortunate that it's only an hour or so away. We brought both dogs, as we always do, for everyone's comfort and moral support.
We met with doctors from the oncology service, who took a full history, did a physical, and also had the results from our own vet. They explained various options, and confirmed what we already knew: a lot would depend on whether or not the cancer had metastasized, and whether or not the tumour seemed operable. The first would be determined by blood work and chest x-rays, the second by a surgeon. They also said the surgeon would probably want to do an ultrasound and possibly a CT scan to get a better image of the tumour.
The great thing about a teaching hospital is that everything is there under one roof. All the different doctors and services can be consulted and results known on the spot. We left Cody for x-rays and blood work, and asked where we could take Tala for some play-time while we waited. We ended up on a snowy, windswept golf course. Tala looked like an arctic wolf out on the tundra!
When we met the doctor again, he was practically grinning. He said the prognosis could not be better. The chest x-rays were all clean. And the surgeon felt the tumour and almost instantly pronounced that she could get the whole thing, clean, no problem.
This surgeon is reputed to be one of the best. She did some aggressive handling of the tumour - far more than what a vet would normally do - and said she was able to get her fingers around the whole thing. This means that it should come out with "clean margins". She was so optimistic that she said ultrasound would be unnecessary. Also in our favour, the tumour is only on one side of the throat; about 60% of these cancers show up on both sides. The surgeon has done this exact surgery many times and, the doc said, she was excited about it because of the excellent prognosis.
Wow! We made the decision on the spot. There seemed to be no reason not to have the surgery, and every reason to do it.
The only question remaining was when, and after some discussion, we decided to move quickly. This crackshot surgeon is available tomorrow morning - Cody is already there - why prolong it.
The doctor assured us that he'll be personally taking care of Cody, seeing to her feeding and walking, making sure she's comfortable, visiting her many times a day. He seemed genuinely elated to give us good news and be able to help her.
So we left her there, not an easy thing to do, but we both feel it's the right thing. She was very groggy from the mild sedation they used for the chest x-ray, so she wasn't upset by our leaving. Tala was anxious to get the hell out of there already, so we did, got some dinner - and called my sister on the way home.
Oh my goodness! This is not what we were expecting. Personally, I was gearing myself up for the worst. We needed two big "ifs" to both come through, and that seemed like too much to hope for. In my mind, I was already preparing for the end of Cody's days. Whew.
Of course there are risks to any surgery. And doctors never really know the extent of any tumour until they're in there. We can't truly breathe easily until we hear that she's out of surgery and it went well. But for now, the future seems much brighter.
The doctor is calling us tomorrow morning, just to report how Cody did overnight (!), then we'll get another call after the surgery. Fingers and paws crossed!
Thank you all so much for your support. Thank you thank you.