Natasha Ultrasound Update

As mentioned in a post the other day, Natasha had her periodic check-up following her surgery back in July to remove a 1.95 pound (0.9 kg) mass from her liver. We did not mistype that mass size. It was a whopping 10 inches by 8 inches (25cm x 20 cm). The biopsy revealed it to be a hepatocellular carcinoma (a common liver cancer). Anyway, we promised to provide an ultrasound update as soon as we had the results.

Proudly showing off the shaved belly from the ultrasound update

Proudly showing off the shaved belly from the ultrasound.

Before we get to those results, we would like to remind you about a post Hu-Dad made about Making Canine Medical Decisions. That post has been shared a great deal since (we appreciate that), but if you have not had a chance to read it, please go do so. Don’t worry. We will wait on you.

stroll around

I will just stroll around as you read that.

The initial reading of the ultrasound showed a “suspicious area” on the liver near the stomach and the pylorus (the opening of the stomach to the small intestine). Further examination of the images by a specialist revealed some additional information, but not enough to make a definitive diagnosis. The possibilities include something as innocent as fibrosis or adhesions (scar tissue from the surgery) or it could be a return of the cancer.

Back from a good afternoon walk

Back from a good afternoon walk.

The only way to know for sure right now is to have Natasha go back under anesthesia and perform a needle biopsy. But, if the results showed a carcinoma, we would still have to decide how aggressively to treat.

Our other choice is to re-image in a few weeks and see if the area has changed shape or size. If it is the same size, then it is scar tissue. If it has grown, it is cancer – and we would still have to decide how aggressively to treat.

Supervising her Herd.

Supervising her Herd.

And that is why we suggested you re-read Making Canine Medical Decisions. We have decided to skip the biopsy and to enjoy the next few weeks. We will perform the ultrasound again in about four weeks. Natasha has been a trooper through a couple of major surgeries and several minor procedures over the last year, but her recovery time is slower and slower. While we would love to know exactly what we are dealing with, that is for our comfort – not hers.

So we are choosing quality of life and will be enjoying the next few weeks with lots of great walks, belly rubs, special treats, and other fun. (We even have a special week planned next week – more to be revealed later). Hopefully, the next ultrasound will show no changes – and then we will really celebrate.

In the meantime, Natasha has exactly one message for everyone. “I feel good.” (Sorry for the repeat video, but it is very applicable.)

P.S. – One of those little known facts. While we refer to her as Queen Natasha the Evil in our blogs, Hu-Dad’s most common nickname for her is “Baby Girl.” While that might not sound very original, Natasha is the only member of The Herd who spent her puppy time at Chez Herd. She came into our family at 8 weeks old and much of her time was spent being carried by Hu-Dad in his hand (something about if her paws hit the ground, trouble happened).

10 Comments

  1. The Ao4 on October 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Mom and Dad (he read this, too) totally understand where you’re coming from. They agree with how you’re handling things. We like how Natasha is handling it!!!
    Cammie!

  2. Zoe on October 15, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Would it not be wonderful if we as humans could “turn a phrase” to express things that would make others feel better in dramatic situations. Unfortunately, even the most eloquent lose their skills when it comes to this sort of medical decision.
    However,if I may, I lost a dog to this cancer. She was at her vet check in January and was fine and had a tumor rupture in April. I would never assume to tell people what is the right thing to do for your baby. What I can tell you is that at 10pm the night before she was jumping and playing and at 7am the next morning she had collapsed from a bleed due to the tumor tearing her spleen. I remember screaming at the vet to save her, she was my world it was when I walked back I realized the horrible damage done and as painful as it was I let her go. I share this because I know what this cancer does and it is not what you want to subject your Queen to. It’s easy to read the symptoms and all but I saw it, it does not do the justice love and respect your dog deserves. I was not fortunate enough to have hers caught, while you I am sure do not feel “lucky” let me just say the alternative is not what you want.
    We shall pray for your family and the Queen and hope this is a scar and she will be with you for much longer ruling her pack and your heart. But, if it is not, know that she is lucky to have you as her hudad to love her, spoil her and most importantly put her first
    Dogs are lucky, while they have a sense of survival they do not have a sense of mortality. It is what makes them so unique because they live each day as a gift without the dread of death that humans carry.
    Your choices will be the right ones because they will be made with her best interest at heart, even if it breaks your own. Because as humans we do have a sense of mortality and it’s something we carry for our fur babies. But it is such a small burden compared to the love and joy we get in return.
    Please keep us updated as we all feel we are a small part of your family but know you have our unconditional love and support

    Zoe Walsh
    Sabo, Jasmine Delola and Arhena

  3. Charlotte Anderson on October 14, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I believe you made the very best decision for your family – one I hope I can make when it’s my turn. When my dad was ill with Alz I sometime felt the doc was prolonging Daddy’ dying rather than his living. Prayers for wisdom and great joy in the coming days.

  4. Cheryl on October 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I will be sending prayers & positive thoughts for you & “your Baby Girl”!! Totally understand your decision I’d do the same if we were talking about me and/or my Cinnamon girl!! Will be looking for further updates.

  5. Juno's mom on October 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    (Sounds ominous, but scar tissue is common.) I hope you can research alternative cancer fighters, such as oils of frankincense, turmeric, cannabadiol, hemp and others. I know two local integrative vets who are giving hope to their clients without chemo, etc. It’s a leap of faith for the unfamiliar, but there’s absolutely NOTHING to lose. It can buy them good, if not longer time. A very good essential oil veterinary expert is Melissa Shelton, located in Minnesota. She’s referred to as the oily vet. It’s holistic versus homeopathic. Even if Natasha is clear, you can subdue any new growth of abnormal cells (aka, cancer.)

  6. holly on October 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Hoping and wishing all of you the best. Totally understand your decision,been there and done that as well. She seems pretty happy and in good spirits.

  7. Anna the GSD on October 14, 2015 at 10:51 am

    We do be praying for you all! And it sounds like you is going to have a super dooper week Natasha!

    Dog mom: You gotta do what you gotta do. You know your furkids better than anyone. Quality time and memories always trumps everything else in my book! We support you and wish for a super couple of weeks and a GREAT scan to come!

  8. Sam on October 14, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hard decisions, but in the end it’s always between you and your pups. We’ll keep fingers and paws crossed the next ultra sound shows nothing new.

    Monty and Harlow

  9. Kimberly Parker on October 14, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I’ll be praying for you and Natasha! I hate that we, as dog owners, have to make such decisions. I’m close to having to make some decisions of my own, and it’s breaking my heart. Happily, Natasha feels well and is in good spirits. All my love and doggy kisses to the Herd!

  10. Mom, Ice 'n Ebby on October 14, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Mom sez: I like your decision to leave things as they are until the next checkup. In the meantime, I’ll be praying that there is no change in the size of the spot on her liver. I would do the same, especially at her age, and all she’s already undergone. I HATE these kinds of decisions! The same thing we went through with Kiah in 2003, and with Ayla two years ago this month. Like ‘Tasha is to you, Ayla was OUR “Baby Girl”. Like you, we had Ayla from the time she was six weeks old. As I said, I’ll be praying for you, and for “The Queen”!

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