A Week in the Life of a Superhero

Lager wearing the Superman costume gifted to him by his Aunt Jackie

Lager is an extraordinary pup with an astonishing background. (It’s sometimes hard to believe that our boy was assigned to keep the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad safe)! His bravery and resilience is inspiring. By the time he was 3 years old, he had already traveled to more countries and states than most people visit in a lifetime. Despite his disciplined working career before we met him, Lager quickly adjusted to civilian life and showered us with much love and affection. Beyond his serious working mode, Lager also has an extremely goofy and jubilant side. His pure, genuine passion for life is contagious. He gets excited about anything and everything. The smallest of things makes him literally jump for joy…so much so that I often joke that he is the real-life Tigger. He has taught us to be happy and thankful for everything – big and small – and to remain positive and joyful through whatever life throws our way. His love of life fuels him to do everything with 250% effort and enthusiasm. He’s “got heart” like no other…and I know in my heart that Lager will face this new challenge and overcome any obstacle that may attempt to stand in his way of continuing to enjoy life to the utmost degree. If heroes are measured by the strength of their heart, Lager is definitely a Superhero in my eyes.

10/10/22: Lymph Node Cytology and Radiograph Results

Lager’s oncologist, Dr. Olivier Campbell, called the morning of October 10th with a positive report! The cytology results of Lager’s mandibular nodes showed that the lymph nodes were reactive and no tumor cells were observed, which is great news! In addition, the radiologist’s final interpretation of Lager’s radiographs showed nothing significant! The next step is to meet with the dentistry specialist to plan surgery. Dr. Olivier Campbell asked how Lager was doing. I laughed and said, “He’s just as crazy as ever. You would never for one second know that he has cancer, and he reminds me everyday that mindset is everything.”

10/10/22-10/11/22: Chase Away K9 Cancer’s “Chase Away 5k”

Thank you to everyone who shared with me that they signed up for the Chase Away K9 Cancer 5K to walk for Lager. We did this 5k in two parts and I was lucky enough to be able to meet up in person with some friends and their pups to complete this 5K!

Chase Away 5K: Part 1

On October 10, 2022 we met friend and fellow Pointer Rescue, Organization volunteer Jen along with her foster pups Vera & Virgil …and our friend Heather with her pups Kayla and Ellie from Team Salty Paws at Amico Island Park in Delran, NJ. We also were walking for our Pointer pal, Virgil, who is battling hemangiosarcoma.

Virgil, who is also battling cancer, gave me a nice hug before the 5K!

Chase Away 5K: Part 2

On October 11, 2022 I met friends, Jen and Sherra, at Union Lake Wildlife Management Area to complete the 5K. This time Jen brought her two Pointers, Pearl and Brandy.

10/13/22: Surgery Consultation

Prior to Lager’s appointment, I wrote down questions in order to prepare my self for the consultation:

  • Is your anesthesiologist board certified?
  • Can you explain how the operation is performed?
  • What are the risks and possible complications for this operation?
  • Will Lager need special diet after his operation?
  • When does Lager need stop eating and drinking leading up to the surgery?
  • What medication will Lager be sent home with after surgery?
  • Could you tell me about your experience with this operation?
  • How can I contact you if I have more questions?
  • What can I expect during Lager’s recovery?
  • What restrictions will Lager have after surgery?
  • How do most dogs who have to have a partial mandibulectomy usually recover?
  • Will Lager’s life and lifestyle change after this procedure? Will he still be able to dock dive?
  • Are there things I can do to prepare myself, my home and/or Lager for this procedure?
Surgery consult with Dr. Jennings

On October 13, 2022 I met with Dr. Michael Jennings at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital to discuss Lager’s surgery. Dr. Jennings was so kind and explained in detail the surgery Lager will need. Dr. Jennings shared that unfortunately, Lager does need a partial mandibulectomy which will most likely include removing the portion of the lower jaw that incorporates the 2 canine teeth and incisors. I immediately broke out into tears upon hearing this, and Dr. Jennings was beyond compassionate and reassuring. Dr. Jennings said that the location of this tumor combined with being oral papillary squamous cell carcinoma (a sub-category [lesser version] of squamous cell carcinoma) is actually best case scenario in the big picture.

The diagram below shows the projected approximate portion of Lager’s jaw (below the red line) that will be removed during his surgery:

Lager’s surgery will be an attempt to remove the mass along with a margin of normal tissue and bone. The degree of removal is based upon Lager’s anesthetized oral exam and dental x-rays. In Lager’s case, Dr. Jennings suspects it would include the front of his lower jaw, hopefully keeping the back of his mandibular symphysis (chin). Once removed, the resected portion will be reevaluated to both confirm the tumor type and to check the edges for evidence of tumor cells. If clean margins are achieved, the papillary squamous cell carcinoma will not likely recur and Lager should be cured. However, if when reevaluated the tumor is determined to be squamous cell carcinoma (not the papillary subtype), Lager may require follow up chemotherapy or radiation therapy if the tumor characteristics indicate more aggressive behavior.

Dr. Jennings shared that after oral surgery, dogs generally do well, and although there will be a learning curve of how to place the tongue, and pick up food/objects, dogs adapt quickly and efficiently and continue a high quality of life. Pain is controlled prior to and following surgery, and most dogs return to eating and acting normally without any significant issues. Dr. Jennings is confident that with Lager’s drive, that he will adapt and likely will be able to compete in dock diving next season as well.

“MOM! You’re embarrassing me with your notebook full of questions!” ~Lager

Quite Frankly the Best Boy Ever

Lager was such a good boy at his surgery consult, so we stopped at Philadelphia Pretzel Company for a pretzel dog. Lager enjoyed a few bites as a reward before returning home.

10/14/22: Partial Mandibulectomy Surgery Scheduled

We received confirmation on October 14, 2022 that Lager’s surgery is scheduled for October 31, 2022. Lager will not be allowed to eat hard food or put objects in his mouth for up to a month after treatment, depending on his recovery. There is a possibility that he may initially struggle to eat food and will most likely have to be hand-fed. He may also have difficulty drinking water, and positioning his tongue normally for the first few days following surgery. In the next two weeks leading up to his surgery, Brian and I will be doing our best to prepare our hearts and our home for the temporary changes and challenges that Lager may face. We believe it is important to appropriately equip ourselves in all aspects in order to have the strength to project positivity and confidence for Lager to absorb, and to preserve a sense of normalcy for him. Any prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes will be greatly appreciated this Halloween and the few weeks following.

Lager in a cape gifted to him by his Aunt Jackie, who’s dog wore this cape

The Rainbow in Our Clouds

The continued support, prayers, and positivity that friends and family near and far continue to shower over our family has undoubtedly kept us all in good spirits and brightened our cloudy days… we can’t thank you all enough. We are also beyond grateful for the private messages, comments on posts, and heartfelt gifts.

Lager’s Cousin James made Lager a card and he listened intently as James read it aloud to him.

Team Salty Paws gifted us with oral cancer awareness decals for our vehicles!

4 thoughts on “A Week in the Life of a Superhero

  1. I am so sorry to hear Lager needs the surgery. I will not be home before the surgery, but know my heart and prayers are with all of you. I am in tears just thinking about it.♥️♥️♥️

  2. Lager your truly are superhero 🙏🏻🐾🐾
    sending you positive healing vibes during your time of surgery recovery ❤️‍🩹 any treatment you may need …
    so sorry your going through this
    Our hearts go out to you all!!!🥰
    Lager you’ve got this little man big hugs🤗

Leave a Reply