For weeks Hoppy slowly recovered from his dental surgery. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but we did notice his chin didn’t seem to be improving as we had hoped. Some of his gums seemed a bit irritated as well, so we brought him into the dentist for an unscheduled follow-up to get their opinion. Their opinion? His gums were healing well – his chin needed more attention from Hoppy’s dermatologist.
We had maintained communication with Long Green Animal Dermatologist, who kept insisting his chin issue was acne. With the advice from the dentist we made an appointment with the other animal dermatologist in the Baltimore area, Dr. Buerger at Veterinary Dermatology Center, to get a second opinion.
We were finally able to schedule an appointment for October 30. Dr. Buerger took one look at Hoppy and said “I think it’s cancer.” We were kind of stunned. First, because it was a big jump from chin acne to cancer, and second, we had thought the needle aspirate at the internist had ruled cancer out. The vet patted Hoppy’s chin with some tape and looked at it under a microscope. He said there were a lot of mast cells – so we were looking at a mast cell tumor that was more than likely cancer from the look of it.
He suggested we have a full body x-ray done, because it was his suspicion that Hoppy was going to be riddled with tumors throughout his body. He said to prepare for the worst. On the slimmy, slim chance that he didn’t have other tumors, he suggested we see a surgeon for a biopsy.
This news was hard to take. We felt very guilty—here we were treating him for chin acne, when perhaps we could have been doing something more proactive about (potential) cancer. We had questioned the chin acne diagnosis from the beginning—we should have sought a second opinion long ago.
The next day we brought Hops to our primary vet for an x-ray. To our surprise, he was tumor free. There was no sign of any additional tumors in his body. It was welcomed good news for our heavy consciences. We scheduled a biopsy at Maryland Veterinary Surgical Services – their next availability was November 19.
Follow up dentist visit = no charge. Dermatologist Appointment = $239.00. Chest X-rays = $190.
Total vet bills to date = $4950.09
Elizabeth Putsché is the executive director of Photographers for Animals.
Recognizing the impact and influence imagery can have on an audience to
take action, she founded Photographers for Animals to promote animal
issues and to help organizations utilize opportunities for photography and film.