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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

When Your Dog Has Cancer

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

June 30, 2014

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Sophie

It felt like the life had been sucked out of me when a specialist/radiologist told me that my dog Sophie has a tumor the size of an egg on her liver. But I felt like I had been sucker punched today when I learned from the new veterinarian that I switched her to, that the tumor was actually the size of a grapefruit, maybe close to two and not an egg. I know it to be true because I saw the tumor on the xray myself.

I'm not sure how the radiologist missed a tumor this large when he performed the ultrasound on Wednesday. To add insult to injury, I actually took Sophie to the vet back in December for her back and they x-rayed and saw that her liver was enlarged and never mentioned it.

I learned in April that her liver enzymes where very high and they suggested an ultrasound. I had been trying to pull the money together to get the ultrasound, then I got sick and was shut down a few weeks that's why I haven't been blogging. But last week I decided that I needed to make the ultrasound happened because Sophie was just restless. It was then I started selling my handbags and jewelry on Facebook. (BTW) thanks to everyone who purchased something from me; I've spent over $1,200 since last week. For sure without your purchases I would not have been able to get Sophie the care that was needed.

Dr Gill with Sophie!

Dr Gill with Sophie!

So here we are. A missed tumor in December and a misdiagnosed tumor just last week. But I knew in my spirit that I needed a new veterinarian on Thursday after I got off the phone with her current vet about the ultrasound report. He just didn't seem proactive.

Thank God I followed my first mind. If I hadn't switched to Dr. Gill at Bronzeville Animal Clinic, I would have never known how advanced the cancer really was.

After speaking with me on Thursday, Dr. Gill was on top of it, looking for solutions to shrink a tumor, at that time so we thought, the size of an egg (based on the radiologist report on Wednesday).

When Dr. Gill saw Sophie on Saturday she was really concerned. She thought then that this tumor was really bad and put some extra medicines on board. On Monday she decided that Sophie was in way too much distress and took an xray herself to discover that the tumor is so large it has shifted all of Sophie's organs.

Sophie

Did you understand all of that? Cause it was a mouthful for sure. The bottom line, my baby girl has liver cancer and it's not good. For the last 3 days it seems to have gotten worse. She doesn't want to walk, she barely eats and she whines all day.

But then who would want to walk if all your organs had shifted and you have a tumor covering your entire tummy. She can't get comfortable. She's just an unhappy baby.

I've cried until I can't cry anymore. Well that's a lie, I get overwhelmed about every few hours and have a moment. I can't wrap my brain around this. I feel like God got jokes. Like, really, God?

Dr. Gill and I thought we had a plan on Saturday, but now it has been shot to hell by the size of the tumor. Chemotherapy and radiation does not work for this type of cancer, so basically, the tumor has to come out; A surgery she probably would not survive.

The plan today is to see if any of these medicines we got on board will give her some relief. Maybe prednisone will shrink the tumor, at least that's our hope. Next week If we have not seen any improvement in the quality of her life, I will have to make one of the most important and hardest decisions of my life; Operate or just put her under.

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See Also
Ten Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being

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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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