Dick White Referrals – Specialist Appointment – Tuesday 26th May 2009

May 26, 2009

We set off for Newmarket at around 11am. It’s only an hour from our home but we wanted to ensure we were there with plenty of time to spare. We’d been made aware that there was a possibility that Barney may be kept in for tests, so we had agreed that if need be, we would find a hotel in the area and stay for as long as was necessary.

We arrived early, as intended, and took Barney for a walk on the open paddock that is owned by the vets. The place looked lovely and we felt comfortable there.

We went in just before 1pm and soon after, Barney’s consultant, Rob Foale, came and introduced himself and took us into a room to begin the consultation.

His first question was how long we’d had Barney. I told him I’d had him since he was 14 weeks old, so just coming up for ten and a half years. He agreed it was a long time. I told him he is a major part of the family and him not being a part of our family was not in our plans at this time.

He asked what we had been told regarding options for Barney and we said that we had basically been advised that there would possibly be an option of surgery or chemo/radiotherapy.

Rob then went on to tell us all the facts and what options we had. This is what I’d dreaded. I knew it wasn’t going to be sugarcoated. This was now becoming very real.

He advised that there were two options, but, realistically, this was going to be based on cost as most things are with animals. We told him that cost was not an issue and whatever the cost to make him better, then that’s what we’d pay. He told us that they’d not do anything that did not need to be done. I already trusted this man. My dog’s life was in his hands. I had to.

He advised that radiotherapy to shrink the tumour was one option, however, this will never completely rid him of the cancer, it would be a measure to prolong his life. The other option was surgery. Quite a radical surgery because it would mean removing part of his jaw. The sheer thought made me feel sick with worry, but I knew this was the option for Barney. He talked about curing him, not prolonging his life. It sounded positive. As positive as it could be right now.

He couldn’t get a good look at Barney whilst we were there, purely because, again, he was over-excited and his tongue was hanging over where the tumour was situated. His one concern with Barney was just how close to his tongue the tumour was. He explained that if it was close to the baseline, then surgery might not be an option as there is a large artery that runs through the tongue and if severed, it would mean that he would lose the use of his tongue. That’s just not a possible option so we needed to find out exactly where the tumour was. He needed to put him under anaesthetic to find out.

Everything moved so quickly from here. He told us that the final cost would be somewhere between £3000 and £4000 excluding VAT, and that if Barney was to need an MRI Scan, that would be an additional £1500. We didn’t care at all. He then told us that he would like to keep Barney and run tests. Blood tests, chest X-Rays, if need be then the aforementioned MRI Scan and check under his tongue. Within the space of 40 minutes, we were asked if it was okay to remove his collar, harness and lead and that if it wasn’t too traumatic for us, to take them with us, just until we collected him again. We agreed, signed a form and watched Barney being led off to settle into a kennel. Heartbreaking? Yes, but we had to be positive that this was going to all be okay.

Rob promised that whilst Barney was there that he would call us all the time to keep us up to date on what was happening with Barney. A word he stuck to. He really couldn’t have been better.

We left the clinic at around 2.30pm and went off to find somewhere to stay. We found a place just 8 miles away from Barney that was great incase we needed to get to him quickly for any reason.

Later that evening at around 6.30pm, Rob called to tell us that Barney had settled in great. He’d eaten, had a walk and his blood tests had been done and had come back as “remarkable”. He said that for his age and the fact that he’d had a general anaesthetic less than two weeks prior, that he was amazed by how good they were. He said his haemoglobin level and cholesterol levels were slightly raised, but at ten years of age, that was more or less to be expected. Barney is officially a very fit and healthy (apart from this cancer) dog. One worry down….

A sleepless night followed….


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