A few weeks before our holiday travels we noticed a small red growth on Emmie’s paw. S did some research online and diagnosed it as a histiocytoma, a benign tumor that typically occurs in young dogs and which regresses after a month or two. We decided it was no cause for concern and went on vacation. When we returned in mid-January, the tumor had doubled in size. It was ulcerated and showed no signs of regression. A bit alarmed, we took Emmie to the vet to get the tumor removed and analyzed.
The surgical procedure was simple, but the labwork produced alarming and unexpected results. The vet had sent the sample to a pathology lab and the diagnosis was dire. According to Nairobi’s premier cancer specialists, our dog had less than six months to live. The vet told us there was a small chance of error, as the lab specialized in human pathology, and recommended we send the sample to a Nairobi University medical student who was doing research on dog cancers.
A week went by without an answer. While D argued that the diagnosis must have been wrong – that kind of cancer usually occurs in much older dogs of markedly different breeds – we could not be sure, and requested the sample so that we could get a second opinion from an American vet. It took several weeks, but the diagnosis from the other side of the pond confirmed our earlier suspicions: the tumor was a late-stage histiocytoma that would have regressed on its own had we left it alone another couple of weeks.