Lucy, a 6 year old female Pit Bull Terrier, collapsed suddenly after playing outside with her housemate, Rocky. Her owners rushed her to Alpine Animal Clinic for emergency care.
The veterinarian, Dr. Heidi Wampler, diagnosed internal hemorrhaging, indicated by rapid breathing (tachypnea), pale mucus membranes, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), and dropping temperature (hypothermia). Dr. Wampler could feel a mass in Lucy’s mid-abdomen and, correctly it would turn out, surmised Lucy had a cancerous mass of her spleen that had ruptured.
Lucy was hemorrhaging so quickly she had little time to live. For her family, there was little to discuss as Lucy’s family knew she would die without emergency surgery, and they also wanted to give her as much time as possible, although it was clear the mass was most likely cancerous. They immediately decided to proceed with surgery.
Spleen Tumor: Hemangiosarcoma
Dr. Wampler rushed to emergency surgery with Lucy while Alpine staff collected blood from a donor dog to give a transfusion. Dr. Wampler removed the ruptured spleen, stopping the life-threatening hemorrhaging, and examined all of her internal organs looking for other cancerous lesions (metastasis). Luckily, no other masses were found at surgery, increasing the length of time Lucy might have before her cancer returned.
During surgery, Alpine technicians began the blood transfusion, providing critical blood clotting factors, red blood cells, and increasing blood pressure. This proved to be lifesaving for Lucy.
After surgery, Dr. Wampler stayed beside Lucy throughout the night to monitor her closely and complete her blood transfusion. Lucy did great!
Lucy recovered very well over the next few days and returned home while awaiting the tumor biopsy results. As suspected, the worst was confirmed when the biopsy results showed hemangiosarcoma of the spleen.
Even with small tumors, hemangiosarcoma is highly malignant and is most often already spread to other organs, often microscopically. The liver is the most common organ to which this spreads, and it can also spread to the heart and other locations making the average life span after surgery approximately 9 months.
Lucy did very well and she was able to play with Rocky and her owners without pain or illness for nearly 7 months before her cancer returned.
All photos and stories. like Lucy's story, are shared by permission.
Her mom, Cyndi, expressed her gratitude for having more time with Lucy, writing:
“I want to say Thank you to Dr.Wampler, all of the Dr.'s, Techs and the whole Staff for literally saving Lucy's Life!! My words can not express my gratefulness and appreciation for all of you! Lucy survived because of each and everyone of you and may God bless each and everyone you too!!!
Thank you, you amazing special people!”