Free Willy! (from cancer)

Hi. We're Fred & Betsy. We're both breathing down the neck of 70 and have two adult children, a Shih Tzu named Jack and a Lhasa Apso named Willy. Willy started out as a humble, year-old rescue dog, but quickly established himself as the boss (king) of our little pack and den. Recently Betsy took Willy to our vet for a routine shot. Our vet loves these boys about as much as we do, so she always gives them special care. When she felt around Willy for good measure, she discovered a small lump, a tumor of some kind.
After a biopsy, we found out that Willy had a subcutaneous mast cell tumor and needed surgery. Dr. Sine removed the tumor and surrounding tissue, sent it all to the lab, and we crossed our fingers. Sadly, when the pathology report came back, some of the markers showed a particularly aggressive form of mast cell cancer. Also, the margins from the surgery were not clear which needed to be addressed immediately. The good news is that Willy recovered very quickly from the ordeal aspect of things.
Dr. Sine recommended we take Willy to Dr. Kraiza, a canine oncologist at a specialized practice. Having seen the lab report, Dr. Kraiza was not encouraging but recommended doing an ultrasound of Willy's abdomen and a biopsy of his spleen, liver, or possibly both. We waited for an excruciatingly long time for the news and were incredibly relieved when Dr. Kraiza told us both his abdomen and spleen were clear, so cancer had not spread there. Dr. Kraiza consulted with one of the clinic's surgeons, Dr. Wolff, who would perform a much more radical surgery to try to remove all of the cancerous tissue.
Willy came home with an 8" incision, a fentanyl patch, pain medication and sedatives. He was to have "bed rest" for two weeks, and he took advantage of those instructions for just a few days before he returned to the Willy of old, all except the Mohawk haircut and the padded donut around his neck. Again, all of the removed tissue was sent to the lab and the pathology report was very slow to come back, another long, hard wait. When it finally did arrive and we heard that all signs of cancer had been removed and all the margins were clean, there was great rejoicing.
After three weeks of recovery, Willy began chemotherapy, intended to kill any possible free-floating cancerous mast cells left in his body. Dr. Kraiza did a complete blood panel before the IV was administered, and all blood counts were within the normal range! This will be the weekly routine for one month, moving to every other week for at least eight doses of Vinblastine, the chemotherapeutic drug selected for Willy's particular situation.
Willy seems to be handling the chemo really well. He's recovered completely from the second surgery and now his prognosis is about 180 degrees away from where it was after his first visit with Dr. Kraiza. We are, of course, overjoyed, but the fat lady hasn't sung her song yet.
We couldn't say "no" to saving Willy, but it is a real hardship. This kind of money going out at this time in our lives has a large effect. Betsy and I met in a Twelve Step program 20 years ago. It took us several years just to get to normal. That didn't leave us a long time to save.
Betsy and I will be incredibly grateful for any help you can share with us. You can change our lives the way we changed Willy's—twice! Thank you so much for taking the time to read Willy's story and perhaps sharing it with others. It all helps!
Peace to each and every one,
Fred & Betsy


Fred Davis
Columbia, SC

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