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Some Sad News

An extremely difficult post to write.



I debated whether or not to write a blog post about this, but ultimately decided that it was dishonest to totally mask my all-encompassing grief and anxiety with fun posts about travel, restaurants, and adventures. Next week, I'll return to documenting all of those things--after all, that is the heart of this blog--but I wanted to share what we have been going through the past couple of weeks in the name of transparency.


Last week, Winston was formally diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). A CT scan and cystoscopy on 11 August confirmed what our veterinarian suspected following an ultrasound scan on 4 August. Winnie, my best friend, my child, and a true piece of my heart and soul, has an inoperable, cancerous bladder tumour. Although the tumour has not yet spread outside of his bladder or urethra, the road ahead is a difficult one. The tumour interferes with Win's ability to urinate, which is how we discovered it in the first place.


Toward the end of June, Win started having a lot of accidents. This is unusual for him. We brought him to our veterinarian, who examined him and ran a urine culture. The results were consistent with a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is commonly treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, Winston did not seem to fare any better after his course of antibiotics was complete. Though a bloodwork analysis did not reveal any abnormalities that would prove cause for concern, a more thorough urinalysis at the lab revealed there was still blood in Win's urine. We scheduled an ultrasound to figure out why.


Winston is only eight years old, so while I knew there was a remote possibility that his symptoms pointed to something more inimical than a more benign obstruction or some sort of prostate problem that might be treated with surgery or a longer course of antibiotics, I don't think I seriously contended with the idea that he might have cancer. When our veterinarian confirmed that there was a mass in Win's bladder, paired with a thickening of his bladder walls, I was stunned.


Our regular veterinarian referred us to a specialist so we could evaluate the extent of the tumour, confirm whether or not it was TCC, and obtain as much information as possible to best evaluate any potential treatment options. The biopsy results from the cystoscopy did confirm TCC, which is the most common form of bladder cancer in dogs. Since learning of Winston's diagnosis, I have done a great deal of research on TCC. Scottish terriers, unfortunately, have a much higher risk than other breeds of developing TCC. According to Purdue University's College of Veterinary Medicine, a leader in canine oncology research, Scotties have "a high inherited risk of bladder cancer." What made our diagnosis particularly devastating, however, was that the average age of TCC diagnoses is 11.05 years--three years older than our sweet baby Win is.


I have not yet decided if I will publicly share what we will or will not be doing in regard to treatment, as I am aware that in my current state of emotional fragility, I am not equipped to handle feedback about a subject that I know many people have very strong opinions about. We are so incredibly fortunate to have amazing regular veterinary care from Wagtails Veterinary Centre, and now, additional care from specialists at Swift Referrals, and we feel confident that their combined expertise and our own knowledge of what is best for our boy is the greatest possible path forward.


If you have a Scottie, or another breed that is predisposed to higher rates of developing TCC (like Shetland Sheepdogs, Beagles, Westies, Wire Hair Fox Terriers, Keeshonds, and Samoyeds), ask your veterinarian about an annual Cadet BRAF test for your adult dog. It's not cheap, but this non-invasive urinalysis tests for a genetic mutation in dogs with TCC. You may be able to catch TCC sooner than once your dog starts showing symptoms. Though I wish I had known about the test sooner, I'm also not sure how much it would have helped in our case, as most vets probably would not start testing for TCC until age eight anyway.


Since Winnie was diagnosed with TCC, I have done everything in my power to make every single day special for him. I will continue to do so for as long as I can. Sharing my life with Winston for the last eight years has been the greatest gift, and every morning that I wake up and have Win there with me, I'll cherish it to the utmost.

 

To support the work of veterinary researchers looking for more effective treatment options for TCC, please consider donating to Purdue.

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Guest
Aug 21, 2023

Love to you, Kyle, Clem, and our sweet sweet Win xoxo

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Thank you ❤️❤️

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Guest
Aug 21, 2023

Praying for your beautiful Scottie and the family❤️

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Thank you so very much 💔

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Chloe Gunther
Chloe Gunther
Aug 21, 2023

We love Winnie 💜

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He loves you all back. Your support is everything to us.

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Guest
Aug 21, 2023

I lost my beloved first Scottie, Scout, to an inoperable thoracic tumor about 6 years ago. She was only 8 years old as well. I had planned on having her so much longer. She was the first dog that was just mine. We were inseparable. She was my companion through so many happy and sad times. It hurts so much to lose them, but your little Clementine will ease the pain. I now have two more beloved Scotties, Trudy and Phoebe. They helped heal the hole in my heart left by Scout.

You’re in our thoughts,

Sarah, Trudy, and Phoebe

(Lexington, KY, USA)

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Thank you so much for your sweet and thoughtful words. The way you feel about Scout is exactly how I feel about Winnie. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond, it is very much appreciated.

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