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Mercy's Story

Mercy's story of cancer and amputation.

Mercy's Story

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Hello!  I’m Ashley, Mercy’s mom, and I’ll be writing on behalf of her… as a result of her lack of opposable thumbs.  And of course she’s too busy running around like a mad woman and sleeping to do it herself.  A little about myself, I’m a 24 year old veterinary technician, mostly specializing in surgery.  I spent majority of my time at work, studying for work-related things, spending time with my own furkids, and playing around online.  In addition to Mercy, I have a 3 year old domestic longhair tuxedo cat named Mouse, and a 6 year old domestic longhair tuxedo cat named Tippin.  We aren’t here to talk about the cats, though.

Mercy is a miniature pinscher (though slightly large, so we call her a maxi-pin), born March 12th, 2000.  Her cancer story starts in November, 2008 when we found the first lump on her left front leg.  We started with a fine needle aspirate to take a sample of cells to send to the lab, which came back as nothing.  By December, she was undergoing surgery to debulk the mass (due to the location, it was impossible to get good margins) and send it in for a biopsy to the lab.  It came back as a grade I Fibrosarcoma.  Next came leg radiographs, chest radiographs, and a visit to the oncologist.  The oncologist said the only options were radiation therapy, or amputation since there was no way to get clean margins.  They strongly recommended radiation therapy; however, it would cost close to $10k, I would lose Mercy for 3 months since she’d pretty much have to live in the clinic 1.5 hours away.  She’d have to be anesthetized daily (and she feels so horrible after anesthesia) and have an open wound for the duration, with only a 75% success rate after 3 years.  Which admittedly is a fairly good prognosis, but the cost would be extravagant to me, and I didn’t feel it would be an ideal situation for my babygirl.  The other option was amputation, but we were told that due to the low metastasis rate, we should hold off until the tumor returned first.  Then began the bloodwork and radiographs every 3 months, and the monitoring her leg every day.  She did a lot of limping that year.  We were told it could be tumor remnants causing it, or tightening of the incision from the surgery causing it, or the dissolvable sutures.  The incision took forever to heal, which was most likely a result of the tumor tissue.  By September 2009, the limping was worsening, for no known reason, and during an in depth exam at the clinic, I noticed another lump, further down her leg.  Once we found that lump, her limping stopped.  Apparently it was her way of telling us something else was wrong.  The process began again.  First, the needle aspirate, again with no conclusive results.  Then the surgical debulking, again unable to get clean margins, and the tumor was infiltrating surrounding nerves.  The conclusion this time? A grade II mast cell tumor.  A call back into the oncologist gave the same results, only this time the prognosis was slightly worse, due to the grade and nature of the tumor.  Again, unable to do the radiation on the first tumor, let alone the second tumor, we’ve opted for amputation.  Two types of cancer in one leg is enough.  It’s time to sacrifice the leg to save the life.  After all, dogs are born with 3 legs and a spare.

This starts the beginning of a new chapter.  We’ve taken 3 view chest radiographs, which on initial inspection look normal, and have been sent to a radiologist for further examination.  All of her bloodwork came back relatively normal for her age.  She’s scheduled for an abdominal ultrasound October 29th, with an ultrasound-guided biopsy of her lymph node to check for metastasis.  Then November 4th is the date when my Mercy becomes a tripawd.   Even being a vet tech doesn’t make it easier – in fact, sometimes it’s more difficult.  It’s one of the situations where I’d rather be an owner than a vet tech.

In any case, I’m very excited to come across this website today, and hope to keep an updated blog on Mercy’s progress… if only to keep my mind preoccupied so I don’t go (more) insane.  Please feel free to ask questions, leave comments, what have ya!

Thank you!

Ashley and Mercy


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