There is no easy way to put this, and no back-story to tell…as this all happened so suddenly. This week it has been discovered that Limoncello has an inoperable mass that encompasses the entire right side of her head…including her eye socket & nasal cavity. It has deteriorated bone, including breaking through the cribriform plate and extending to her brain. Due to the vast size, locations of the mass, Cello’s age, and her Dilated Cardiomyopathy, surgery and treatments such as chemo, radiation, or CyberKnife are not options.
There were zero… ZERO signs. Limoncello had been playing in the yard, swimming, going on walks, eating normally, acting normally and had no abnormalities in her physical features … She had her annual cardiology exam just a couple of weeks ago and not only did her cardiologist give her a gleaming report, a comprehensive bloodwork panel returned with near perfect results. …ZERO signs… until…about a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that Cello’s right eyelid looked a bit “droopy.” In the following days I noticed that the third eyelid was elevated. She was seen by our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, just days after the observation with our thought being that she somehow irritated her eye, or had an infection. At this point, we noticed that her eyeball now seemed to be protruding. Dr. Campbell examined her and placed her on antibiotics in the event she may have an infection/abscess behind the eye. We did discuss the possibility of a retrobulbar mass. Dr. Campbell suggested that we secure an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as possible.
August 29, 2023: Ophthalmologist Appointment
Luckily we were able to schedule an appointment on 8/29/23 with Dr. Shelby Reinstein, board-certified ophthalmologist at Vet Vision Center, located about an hour from our home. Upon exam, Dr. Reinstein ruled out two of the three common eye socket abnormalities: (1) an abscesses (infection), and (2) cellulitis (inflammation)….with all her observations leading toward a retrobulbar tumor (mass in the eye socket). Dr. Reinstein also noted that now Cello’s right nostril had decreased airflow. It was recommended that we get a CT scan to see exactly what we are dealing with.
August 30, 2023: Appointment with Internal Medicine Doctor and CT Scan
We were fortunate to get an appointment the very next day with the internal medicine doctor who has cared for both Margarita and Porter in the past. On 8/30/23 Limoncello was examined by Dr. Peter Chapman at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Levittown, PA, who also agreed that all signs pointed to a mass that was most likely malignant. A CT scan was performed that afternoon that revealed the suspected mass behind Cello’s eye was only the tip of the iceberg. Bones are deteriorated, her right nostril is mostly blocked, and not only does the mass encompass the entire right side of her head, it has broken through the cribriform plate and has reached her brain. Due to the initial findings during the CT scan, we opted not to obtain a biopsy. Using a scope to secure a biopsy would have been too invasive and we did not want to put Cello’s body through any more stress. In addition, it was taken into consideration by both us and Cello’s medical team that no treatment options meant that unfortunately a biopsy would not provide us with any additional beneficial information.
We are still waiting on the finalized results from the CT scan. We have been told that it could take a couple of days to a couple of weeks for us to receive it. We are reluctantly anxious to read the report… Although we want to learn every detail that we can, we also know that it may not provide any positive news.
We are grateful that doctors determined Cello is not yet in any pain or discomfort. With all traditional treatments off the table, Cello will be closely monitored until she lets us know she is ready to make her journey over the rainbow bridge. Doctors have given us signs to look for which include but are not limited to: recurring nose bleeds, seizures, difficulty eating, and labored breathing. Cello will also have regular check-ups with our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell. The time she has left with us is unknown but it is only estimated to be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
No Options for Traditional Treatment Plans…So What Do We Do NOW?
To say we are completely shocked and devastated is an understatement. Again – there have been ZERO signs. Cello is otherwise healthy – she displayed no symptoms – and we now have no way to try and stop this. We feel powerless with no options to help her. Aside now from the look of her right eye, you would never know she had a mass that took over the entire right side of her head. She is eating and drinking normally, her breathing sounds typical, she is still bossing the pack around and is physically active.
I have never been one to ever accept hearing “there is nothing we can do.” When protecting our fur-kids, we NEVER go down without a fight – but how do you battle something that has already won? We are by no means surrendering, but it seems this silent killer has left us with no choice but to focus our efforts on helping Cello live her remaining days to the fullest.
Cello will begin some medications and supplements to help support her through her remaining time. Supportive measures will be introduced slowly and in stages. The start of her schedule will look something like this:
- anticonvulsant drug used to treat chronic pain caused by certain cancers. It is also used to prevent seizures
- a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)that has been known to relieve the pain associated with certain cancers and reduces swelling and inflammation.
- In 7 days:
- Yunnan Baiyao
- helps to stop bleeding, provides pain relief, and helps to reduce inflammation
- Yunnan Baiyao
- In 14 days:
- CAS Options or I’m-Yunity
- supports immune health
- CAS Options or I’m-Yunity
In addition to the above, Cello will have coconut oil added to her diet. Coconut oil helps to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. It contains lauric acid, which has also been known to have anti-cancer properties.
We are doing our best to push the anger and sadness away and to shift our focus to ensuring that our actions and demeanor are positive and hopeful, as we know that Cello will feed off of our energy. We know that we are blessed to have had Limoncello in our lives for 12 years when so many other dogs and PAWrents have been less fortunate. Although it is difficult to see it that way in the moment, above all for Cello’s sake, we will find the strength to remain positive and celebrate any and all additional time with her that we will be blessed with. She has led us on so many amazing journeys that we would never have embarked on had it not been for her – now it is our turn to walk beside her on this new and difficult path. We intend to make every second count and ensure that every day is viewed as a chance to make a new memory that will be cherished always.
The Well-Being of Our Pack
There is no doubt Limoncello is our pack’s leader. There are two pack members in particular who are extremely bonded to her. They look to follow her every move, and when they aren’t in motion, they are laying intertwined with her. We have already begun putting methods and schedules into place in hopes to make their transition a bit less difficult when the dreaded shift in their pack and home occurs.
We originally had a dock diving trip planned for this weekend that we canceled. We wish all of our friends a successful weekend as they strive to obtain invitations to the DockDogs World Championships. We will be cheering you all on from NJ. As you know from the past – we have an “All for one, one for all” mantra for our pack. As of now, all future long-distance dock diving trips/competitions for our team are on hold so that we may focus on celebrating time with Limoncello, remain in close proximity to her medical team, and center our attention on the well-being of our pack during this difficult time.
August 31, 2023
Limoncello enjoyed sunbathing in the yard and a walk in our neighborhood.
Our Sincere Gratitude
Friends and family have already offered support on so many levels…post comments, private messages, phone calls, texts, dropping off comfort food, offers to cancel plans and spend the weekend with us…all reminders of just how truly blessed we are to have you all in our lives – and for the majority of you – it’s Limoncello we have to thank for leading us to cross paths with you in the countless adventures she has taken us on. We are so appreciative for all of you, and would ask that you please continue to offer up those prayers and send along those good vibes for Limoncello.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.