The Lump

I remember vividly finding my dog’s first lump. It was his first, but it would not be his last.

It was almost ten years ago and he was seven, what many consider “old.” But, he still ran around like a puppy and wouldn’t showcase any gray hairs until several years later.

His nails scratched rapidly against the linoleum as he rounded the kitchen corner and galloped into the family room, before skidding on the carpet to a halt. His tail wagged. He lunged toward me with his front paws as if to say, “Come at me!”

I got off the couch and crouched down to his six inch frame. He scampered onto my lap and I rubbed his back as he grumbled softly. I scratched under his chin, his favorite spot, and scratched his front where there it was, right on his chest.

A lump.

It was the size of a pea and my heart sank. The “c” word crept into my mind and burrowed itself like a tick, feeding on my worry.

I immediately called the vet and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. But that night the tick in my mind kept growing. Would my dog be OK? Did I find the lump in time? I abandoned any hope of falling asleep and Googled dog lumps.

The tick in my mind gorged on the images. Well, it could be cancer…or cancer… or…it could be a cyst…There was no use in jumping to conclusions, but I tossed and turned all night, and just as I drifted away, my alarm rang.

The 15 minute drive to the vet felt like an hour. The 10 minute wait seemed like a day.

“It’s called a lipoma, a benign tumor.”

The vet explained that as dogs get older they sometimes form growths, but that this growth was nothing to worry about for the time being. He told me to monitor its size. I asked if he recommended removing it and he strongly advised against it.

“As long as it’s not getting in the way of his mobility, the risk of anesthesia outweigh cosmetic improvements and generally these do not grow quickly.”

I was relieved. His words reached into my mind and plucked the tick away. The worry ebbed satisfyingly.

It wouldn’t be until eight years later that we would have to readdress the lump on my dog’s chest. In the meantime, his small body formed two more lipomas, we celebrated eight more birthdays, and we lived every day to its fullest.

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