Never underestimate a lump on your best friend

Never underestimate a lump!

Did you know Golden Retrievers are predisposed to nasty cancer lumps called Marcel tumours?

I didn’t know this either till my beautiful Golden Retriever Suzy presented with her first tumour, one of five to date.

Suzy is currently ten years old and lives a happy and healthy fun filled life. Park visits twice daily, long walks, car rides to friend’s house, Greenies treats every lunch time, beach trips in summer and long naps on the bed. She really lives a dogs life!

Yet, there have been many bumps, literally in her road to this salubrious lifestyle. Without my vigilance and constant patting routines I fear her story may have ended far differently.

In Suzy’s case each of these nasty marcels presented as very small lumps about the size of your little finger nail, negligible in size yet deadly in their consequences. Without checking all over her body regularly they could have been easily missed.

Lump Number one

The first one appeared on her elbow, I initially thoughts it’s probably nothing yet my instinct and overprotectiveness took us to the vet for a check-up and it was confirmed it was a marcel and needed to be removed immediately. She was booked in for surgery the next afternoon and after a week tentative wait on the histopathology I was finally relieved of my anxiety with the news that the lump was removed with all clear margins meaning there was no need for chemotherapy, we had averted a potential disaster.

Lump number two

The second lump presented on the top of her head closer to her ear, knowing better this time we went straight to the vet and once again she was whisked into surgery quick smart, again the histopathology returned with clear margins. After this one she walked around with a shaved head and attracted a lot of attention and questions from well wishing park goers till her fur grew back.

Lump number three

The third lump popped up on the side of her torso, into surgery and again she had a long line of stitches as a souvenir. To remove the lumps they need to take quite abit of surrounding tissue to ensure these clear margins. Phew, again Histopathology confirmed it was a nasty marcel yet it was removed with clear margins. After this removal to ensure she didn’t scratch she walked around in one of my pink long sleeve t-shirts to protect the area that an Elizabethan collar would not.

Lump number four

The fourth lump was the most devastating, it popped up between the toes on her paw. The cells confirmed it was a marcel and once again she arrived for surgery. We hoped we could remove it without too much of an issue yet when the Vet had her on the surgery table he realised that the cancer had twisted around her toes and to successfully remove all the cancer we also had to amputate two of her toes. I sadly agreed and when I picked her up the long process of healing the paw began.

Daily bandage changes, pain relief, helping her walk outside, resting her and no park visits all became very challenging however we took one day at a time and muddled through. When she was able to walk once again we started slowly around the block. What I didn’t realise was that once a few toes are missing the whole leg, foot and gait works differently. The joints in her toes were taking pressure they normally wouldn’t have to accommodate. So our walks were only short. Considering we were used to walking at least an hour a day this was upsetting. As the walking time increased so did her lameness once we returned home. This went on for some time. I bought a kids buggy from eBay and put her in the buggy to take her for long walks, there was no way I could leave her at home whilst I walked Chelsea my other dog.

There had to be something I could do to help her! It was about this time I read a book about how they built elephants prosethics and I had an epiphany, someone in Australia must be able to make her some sort of device to stop the lameness. I was on a hunt for a solution, and would not stop till I found it.

After much searching I found and spoke to Michelle Monk, that’s when things began to change and I felt some hope.

We took an eight hour drive to Melbourne, Australia and stayed with Suzy on Toorak Road in a multi-story hotel building, she thought it quite amusing looking down to the street below and riding in the lift. She had a day with a dogsitter making friends while I went shopping and had dinner at the local restaurants. Then we finally went to meet our saviour Michelle Monk.

Plaster casting her leg and a long wait later an orthotic arrived specially fitted to her foot all the way from America from the company Michelle works with. Then we began the long road of getting her to adjust to the boot being placed on her foot and her learning to walk with it on. Skype appointments with Michelle helped us to work through this till she became an orthotic doggy expert. I am lucky she only needs it to walk on the bitumen, at home and in the park she can be boot free. There is no residual lameness anymore and we have progressed from five minutes walks back to over an hour if we wish. We now have no limits and the buggy is gathering dust and spiders in the shed.

Lump number five

Life started to improve for Suzy exponentially than the fifth lump appears. This really deflated me yet once again the lump on her neck was removed and again had clear margins. She healed whilst she wore my skiing neck warmers to protect the stitches and keep her warm through winter.

Suzy is like a cheeky cat with many chances at life, five so far, and despite feeling upset and sad at each occurrence of a new lump I have changed my perspective. I realise maybe she was sent to me because I am so attentive in looking and finding lumps and I get them checked immediately and progress through to removing them, giving her every change at recovery and life.

Maybe in another situation she may not have been so lucky or lived so long. So I figure she has had a hard lumpy life but she is also having the best most loving life she could hope for. So I approach each new lump with tears and a simultaneous confidence I am doing all I can for her and I provide her every day with a fabulous life. And only like a dog can, she handles all this with poise and grace and a big golden retriever smile on her dial despite walking around in neck warmers, t-shirts and boots, getting quizzical looks and remarks from everyone we meet.


Suzy’s lump manifesto!

1.       Never underestimate a lump, they can be very nasty

2.       Get every lump checked and tested with your reputable veterinarian.

3.       Don’t waste time act immediately, they can grow very fast

4.       Stay positive and do what you can for us, we are always grateful

5.       Do whatever you need to do in every case to find a solution, we are waiting for your help

6.       We don’t mind looking silly if we can feel healthy

7.       We will walk through the healing with you

8.       We will shower you in love as our thanks for helping us

9.       Do it all in Pink, we like to look pretty if we are a girl

10.   Thanks and Woof!


blue-swirl-Life in the Pink

Big Pink love Lara and the two gorgeous fur children, Suzy and Chelsea xx


Visit this link to buy my book Heartbreak, Healing and Happiness – Flourishing after a Heartbreak


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