I bought the cutest horse stamp the other day from Getting Hooked on Etsy. Since it's me saying this, I'm sure all of you know that means she has great prices in addition to wonderful items. She hand carves her stamps, which I think is absolutely awesome. I thought the funky shape would make it slightly awkward to use, but it actually made it easier. Girl knows her stuff. *grin* She has giveaways on her blog, also called Getting Hooked, (for those of you who like to win free stuff - Woot!) For some reason, even though I don't drink coffee, I just love the cute little coffee grinder stamp she made (here). Maybe it's because I'm an antique junkie and have an old coffee grinder as a cookbook bookend in my kitchen. Please be sure to visit her shop to see all of her wonderful stamps and don't forget the blog (you can tell her I sent ya ;o)
I don't think I've actually blogged this, (though I know we have a blurb on our home page) but Lady has something called Sarcoids. These are non-cancerous growths that can cause a variety of annoying problems and are fairly common in gray horses. Lady's Sarcoids are Nodular, and pretty tough to spot amongst the freckles (I only found hers because I run my hands over the horse's bodies on a regular basis). While we have some fairly effective, very expensive medicine (Xxterra $75/oz) to treat them, it's on standby in the event another one ruptures (it took the better part of a year to get the one on her tummy under control - it ruptured on its own). The reason the vet suggested we monitor is because if we medicate prematurely it will cause a rupture (and instigate a medical version of world war III). She's up to 5 of them, but they are all small and don't seem to bother her in any way.
You can see in the photo below how hard the one on the left is to see; it's just visible above my thumb. The one on the right is basically unnoticeable; even with my finger right there:
In addition to Sarcoids, gray horses are also subject to something much more troublesome: Melanomas. According to experts (people lots smarter than me) approximately 80% of gray horses - particularly Arabians - will develop Melanomas after the age of 15. Peachy. I've been watching Lady carefully over the past several years (she's 20), and found the first dreaded Melanoma under her tail the other day. [photo inset] It's not very big (maybe 1/4") so I suspect it hasn't been there very long. Unfortunately, I also noticed several more small, but suspicious looking, bumps underneath her tail (oval on the right and small circle on the upper left).
Although melanoma is not deadly in horses like it is in people, it is still a very big problem as they can multiply quickly and often grow out of control, causing considerable misery for the horse. If you're really curious, you can search images for "equine melanomas", but only if you have a strong stomach (some of the photos are terrible to see). Lady was an awfully good girl, standing still (at liberty) for me to inspect the underside of her tail and take some photos to share. I was sure to give her lots of praise and a treat after, and had the (belated) presence of mind to hope that my neighbors were not outside. Pretty sure the sight of me holding Lady's tail in the air with one hand and a camera with the other - all up in her *ahem* personal space - while praising her lavishly would have worried them considerably. Oh my.
Upon closer inspection, I found that she actually had quite a few larger lumps along the hairline of her tail too. To be honest, I felt them before I saw them. Oh dear. I took several photos but never could get the right angle for them to show up so you could see. Tough to spot, but I circled some of them for you:
So now we need to decide what to we're going to do about it. There are a number of options available, most (of course) pretty costly except for the "do nothing" one (which I am not going to go with). I suggested a biopsy - even though I know what it is - since I'm not a vet but DH seems to think my diagnosis was good enough to act on (again I say I'm not a vet). We're still debating. It seems, even that initial step [biopsy] comes with a risk. Depending on who you ask, attempting to biopsy and/or remove a melanoma can release the cancer and cause it to spread rapidly. EEK. I know this can happen with people from my own cancer (if memory serves, it's called "epithelial seeding of the cells"). I'll Google it later. Anyway, my hope right now is to find the balance between responsible horse ownership, proper [halfway affordable] treatment, and minimal suffering on Lady's part. I am researching our options to see what the best course of action is for all of us.
My regular readers (non-horsey but still much loved ;o) may wish to skip this part, as I am going to list our treatment options to help anyone else out there faced with this decision:
1. Oil Therapy - Frankincense oil, applied directly, has been shown to reduce melanomas. Looked like a fairly inexpensive proactive approach while we are trying to figure out our next move. I ordered some this morning for $15.74 (including shipping) from Edens Garden (here). I'll letcha know.
2. Biopsy/Surgical removal - May (or may not) resolve this particular melanoma, but comes at the risk of triggering more and/or causing metastases. Factor in, too, that Lady has all those others popping up along the hairline. To try to remove them all would probably turn her tail into swiss cheese. Meh.
3. Cimetidine - A tumor shrinking medication also used for ulcers. Lots cheaper than other options, but often stops working after a period of time which would bring us right back to the point we are now. Not sure if there are negative results (like colic) from reducing digestive acids unnecessarily. Anybody know?
4. Laser therapy - This is not available around here; we'd have to haul her up to Auburn for treatment. Not just this time, but again and again as tumors pop up and become troublesome (probably not the best plan financially).
5. Radiation - See answer to #4.
6. Gene Therapy - Cool, but not available yet (they're working on it though!) Probably way out of our price range anyway.
7. Nublada's Formula - at Earth Angel's Herbs (here). Found a couple of positive comments off site, but not a whole lot of info out there. It's unclear how much it costs: the site has $129 for a 2 month supply, but doesn't show shipping. The 4 month supply appears to be $199. Thoughts anyone?
8. Robert McDowell's Herbal Treatments - A two fold internal/external approach (which appeals) to treatment using Bach-based flower remedies (which also appeals). Pricey at $112 for the internal treatment (5 weeks worth) and $23.50 for a melanoma ointment (here), but probably less dangerous than surgery (and likely around the same cost involved). It would also potentially address any and all melanomas instead of one at a time. Since it's in Australia, the shipping is outrageous (looks to be between $20 and $30 - ouch). I did find a pretty good amount of positive info on this stuff (off site) some of which sounds too good to be true - that's a worry. Anybody out there familiar with him?
**If you're reading this, Clancy - do you know anything about McDowell and his herbal treatments? I don't know if he's near you or not down under, but maybe you can ask around your barn. Would you mind?**
Seems Sarabear had some technical difficulties with her fly mask yesterday. *giggle* Doesn't she look cute?
I didn't forget about the giveaway, either. I'm going to post it next time. I'm waiting for a very special task to come through - we've signed up for "GoodSearch" (we're just waiting for their approval - Woo! :o) For those of you unfamiliar, it's a search engine that donates to charity each time you search for something; I'm hoping this will generate a little bit of money coming in anyway (it's a numbers thing, so the more the merrier!) Can you guess who popped up to see what Lady dropped in the water trough over there? Yep, Charity. She's finally stopped spending so much time at the bottom of the tank and is back to zipping around full time with Faith II and Hope II. I'll try to get a shot of those two; they have grown quite a bit since you last saw them :o)
I guess that just about wraps it up for now. Wondering about the "down in the dumps" part? Well, that would be me. Seems I have Shingles (again), and they are in my eye (again). *sigh*. This is why I am publishing my weekly post this Sunday morning instead of sitting in church. I had all these plans for working with Max and taking videos too doggone it, and they are out the window for now. Raspberries to that.
Thankfully, I know just what to do in such a situation. I'm going to take my medicine, slap on some more Calamine and pout. Good thing I'm fully prepared for a nice sulkfest:
Well whaddaya want? It was right there next to the Pharmacy :o) Have a blessed day everyone!