Precious Noel, aptly named as a result of her rescue from a shelter in Selma, Texas on the Eve of Christmas 2017, has already come a long way on her journey to recovery. Her past is a mystery, as she was found as a stray, but in the two weeks that she was cared for by the shelter staff, sadly, no one came to claim her.
Rescues often work hand in hand, and this case was no different. First pulled from the shelter by the local Cocker Spaniel Rescue, it was a collaboration of efforts between them and English Springer Rescue America, Inc. to find a foster home with the rescue that might be best suited to caring for an English Springer Spaniel, and one with potentially costly medical expenses. It was then that she was transferred to our care.
Estimated to be approximately 8 years of age and 49 pounds, Noel is a spayed female with the happy-go-lucky and exuberant personality of many Springers her age. Her general overall health is considered to be good, although she is somewhat hard of hearing. Noel's health concern now is that she struggles with an abdominal inguinal mass that is the size of a soccer ball. The mass is so large that it hinders her mobility and her balance. It is estimated that this cumbersome mass weighs approximately 5 pounds or more. The source of the mass has yet to be determined, and a surgical procedure is scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, to facilitate its removal. While the mass looks quite ominous, the good news, as a result of radiographs and an abdominal ultrasound, is that the tumor does not appear to have metastasized to Noel's lungs or other areas of her body. If its containment is mainly reserved to the size of the mass, the surgery to remove or reduce it (known as debulking), should prove to provide Noel with a quality life that is pain-free once she is rid of this burdensome growth.
To complicate matters, in recent days the mass has gone from oozing slightly to a rupture that requires bandage changes several times a day by her loving caregivers. Her surgery will be performed by Specialists at the Heart of Texas Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Round Rock, Texas, due to the complexity of its removal. Our hope is that enough of the mass can be ridden from her body to be considered a success. There is a possibility, however, that further treatment via chemotherapy and/or radiation, might be needed to aid in her further recovery. Pathology reports should reveal more about her prognosis soon after her surgery has been completed and whether the tumor is benign or cancerous in nature.
Your thoughts, prayers, and financial support would be greatly appreciated as Noel undergoes this life-altering critical procedure. Her medical bills continue to mount and will be very expensive by the time her surgery is complete. If successful, however, Noel's life is about to change forever! This free-spirited, playful little girl will once again have the opportunity to live a normal, active life and we can't think of anything more that we could ask for her. Her foster family reports that she is a sweet, sweet girl that waits patiently as her bandages are changed multiple times a day. They can tell that she desperately wants to play and run, but her tumor is currently prohibiting that type of activity. She's a typical Velcro Springer and always wants to be near, placing her head in your lap hoping for a head massage. She loves food and would enjoy an opportunity to "counter-surf" if given the chance. Silly, sweet, playful Noel, with the help of ESRA and the surgery she is about to receive -- we can't wait to see her blossom into the little girl that she longs to be. We thank you all for your support of Noel and her ongoing care.
Her surgeon reports that she did very well through the surgery, and despite the large amount of tissue that had to be removed, he was able to completely close the incision. Additionally, while the mass was not able to be completely removed, 90 percent of it was, and that is good news. In order to remove the mass in its entirety, the option of amputation was discussed, but because it was recently discovered that Noel presents arthritis in her ankles, her surgeon did not feel that she would be a good candidate for surgical amputation.
Now we wait for pathology results to give us a more confirmed diagnosis and prognosis. Unfortunately, while we want to remain optimistic, Noel's surgeon does believe that this tumor closely resembles one of a very rare form of cancer known as Myxosarcoma, but the only way we will know for sure is to wait for the lab results. If Noel is faced with a cancer diagnosis, however, this form of cancer typically is very slow growing and has a rate of metastasizing to other areas of the body at a low to moderate rate. What this means is that, even if faced with a less than desirable diagnosis, Noel could still have much time to enjoy the life of a normal, healthy Springer.
Of course, we hope that her lab results come back cancer- free, and that is where your good thoughts and prayers will certainly be welcome. Please continue to watch this page for future updates on this little girl who has stolen our hearts.
What a difference a day makes! Our sweet girl has gone home to her foster family today. Noel is doing extremely well and is getting around, despite limitations that the bandaging presents. That might be a good thing, as it will help her to rest and heal. She returns to her vet in five days for a bandage check, and then, again, in ten days for suture removal. We expect to have pathology reports back by then, if not sooner.
Just look at that face! The forlorn look that Noel had prior to surgery has been replaced with the cutest smile! She really appears to be happy, and she greeted her "chariot" drivers today with such exuberance and a joyful personality. She has stolen hearts wherever she goes and certainly had her way with the staff at the Specialty Hospital who have been caring for her these past few days. They gave her a lot of love and spoiled her, as one can only imagine.
We hope you all enjoy the latest photos and video of precious Noel, and that you will continue to keep her in your prayers and positive thoughts in the coming days. The response to our plight for help has been overwhelming, and we are grateful to each of Noel's supporters -- for your concern, your prayers, and your financial contributions to assist in her continued care.
Today's update on Noel is another welcome addition to the series of updates that we will be presenting to you. This sweet bundle of love is doing amazingly well. She does not appear to be in any pain and does not even seem to be favoring the bandaged leg. The only thing that seems to be a hindrance to her mobility is the stiff plastic bag that is put over the foot of her bandaged leg to ensure that it stays dry. Of course, she is being closely monitored. Although she is beginning to find her "inner dog," her foster family is always at her side, making sure that she doesn't overdo it. They remove her e-collar ("cone of shame") several times a day to let her walk around the yard and allow her nose to explore. She is so happy doing that!
Noel's next appointment is on Monday, February 5, for a bandage change. She will be further evaluated at that time, but at this time we believe she is making remarkable progress. It's hard to believe that the removal of a mass as large as Noel had hasn't caused her considerable pain. Then again, living with such a large tumor must have surely come with quite a bit of discomfort -- a burden and discomfort of which she is now free.
Many thanks from Noel, her foster family and all of us here at English Springer Rescue America, Inc. for the love, concern, and financial support you have given to
Here we are again, with another very positive update on Noel's progress!
Noel's bandaging became loosened this past weekend, which required a trip to her Veterinary Hospital for evaluation and re-wrap. The surgeon who performed her procedure, and the attending veterinarian who assisted afterward, were both there to evaluate Noel's progress and assist her on this visit. They removed the bandage entirely from her abdomen and felt it would be best to leave it unbandaged now. Her foster family has been instructed to keep it clean and dry and will be keeping t-shirts on her to help follow these instructions. A couple of areas of swelling were also looked at, and it was reported that they were perfectly normal. All looks good and Noel is coming along great in her recovery!
As the days have passed, Noel is becoming more and more anxious to become mobile and has figured out that she does not like to be confined in her crate. In fact, the crate that she has never had a problem staying in pre-surgery, has become a place that she finds rather uninspiring. She would rather have free run of the house. Unfortunately, while she is still recovering from such an invasive procedure, her foster family must keep her as quiet as possible, despite Noel's insistence that she is feeling very playful and wants to be more active than her doctors feel is in her best interest just yet. As a result, she will be kept confined to a single room with supervision to prevent her from becoming too energetic. Overall, while this is presenting some challenge to her caregivers and is a great sign of Noel's speedy recovery, they are following her surgeon's instructions to ensure proper healing and a complete recovery.
On another positive note, Noel has gained a couple of much-needed pounds. Her fosters have specific instructions on a recommended caloric intake that her doctors want her to have, and they said that she is looking good!
We are pleased to share these uplifting updates with you all. Please continue to check back frequently for the latest news on our "spunky" patient! We think that her photos speak volumes as to how this surgery has already changed her life. We offer our continued thanks and gratitude to each of you who have shown your concern, love, and support for our precious girl.
Last week was a big week for everyone's favorite girl, Noel! She went to visit her surgeon and had the bandaging removed. She was very alert and happy, and let everyone know that she was feeling so much better. She also tested negative for a previous urinary tract infection that she had been harboring, and tipped the scales at 41.67 pounds, which is a welcome change to her previous weight, after surgery of 38 pounds.
Since that day, she has had to return to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic on a couple of occasions to have the surgical site inspected and flushed for possible infection. A large portion of the surgical site is in the groin area of her rear leg. Unfortunately, this is an area that can be difficult to heal because of constant movement, moisture and other factors. Noel had to undergo daily multiple flushes of the site for a few days and appears to now be doing well. We do not believe she has an infection.
Today was also another milestone for Noel. She saw her surgeon again for suture removal and he reported that she is healing very well. Her incision is left without bandaging, but she needs to wear a diaper (complete with a hole for her cute little tail) and a t-shirt to keep the surgical site clean and dry. Her foster parents have a special ointment that they must apply to her wound twice daily to aid in the healing process. It was obvious to all the staff who attended to Noel that she is feeling like a new Springer and finally getting to enjoy her life without the burden of the sizeable mass she had previously had to tote around wherever she would go.
Now, the news that we had hoped we didn't have to share. We have received the pathology report for Noel, and her tests have revealed what her surgeon originally suspected that the mass is a Myxosarcoma, a slow-growing cancer. While we were hoping this was not the case, we have also learned that the cancer is considered a Grade 1, which could provide Noel with the best possible prognosis. There are various treatment options for this type of cancer, ranging from 1) radiation, which can come with complications and daily treatment visits with sedation for close to a month; 2) low dose oral chemotherapy; or3) do nothing at all and just let Noel recover and experience the joys of being a happy, healthy, active Springer. Her caregivers, along with ESRA management, her oncologist, surgeon and primary care veterinarian are all currently in discussions about which option would be best for Noel. We must consider her quality of life ultimately. We will keep you posted on our decision when it is known.
In the meantime, please continue to keep Noel in your thoughts and prayers. Your financial support, thus far, has helped us to cover the cost of her surgery, and we are grateful to each of you for your concern and support of ESRA's special sweetheart. While she is not quite ready to begin her search for her "Forever Home," know that she is well, happy and really enjoying her life now that she is free from that hideous mass.
Noel sends Happy Valentine's Day wishes and big sloppy Springer kisses to you all!
We have a treatment plan for everyone's favorite girl, Noel. It has been decided, after much research and discussion with her veterinary caregivers, that oral chemotherapy shall be the preferred treatment option for this brave little girl.
Noel will soon begin Low Pulse Dose Chemotherapy daily for two weeks. After the initial trial period, she will be examined and have additional blood work done. If responding positively to the treatment, it will be continued daily and will be ongoing for the duration of Noel's lifetime. This form of chemotherapy is intended to slow the progression of the disease.
Noel will be monitored monthly by her oncologist and if there is any indication that the disease may be progressing, she may need additional x-rays and/or an ultrasound.
In addition to the administering of the cancer-fighting drug, Noel is also in need of a few other things. If she is well and a candidate for further anesthesia, she will undergo a dental cleaning at some point in time. She also has a few fatty masses, likely lipomas, that should be aspirated and tested to ensure that they are nothing more than harmless growths containing fat cells. Our little trooper also presents with arthritis in her ankles and could benefit from joint supplements and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) to further her comfort level. This would be implemented if she is able to safely receive this form of medication while being administered the daily chemotherapy dose.
Overall, despite the difficulties that Noel has had to face in recent years, she remains sweet, happy, and quite spoiled by her foster family. She is receiving all the love and good care that she deserves, and we are so happy to report that she is recovering so well. In fact, she has also finally been relieved of the e-collar that she had been instructed to wear post-op to help aid in the healing process. She is free at last and loving it!
Many thanks to all of Noel's caregivers, supporters and friends. She has come so far because of what you have all done for her. We are hopeful for a bright, happy, and healthy future for this special girl.