Lumps, bumps and down in the dumps

Sunday, September 4, 2011

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!



  1. Lady was quite nice to allow the showing of pictures from her personal space :)
    I'll pass on checking out the melanoma thing, I'll just take your word for it.

  2. I hope you are feeling better soon and that the shingles are a fleeting event. It is amazing that can find those bumps on your freckled Arab. I hope her treatment is bearable for both of you. Best wishes.

  3. I can just hope that everyone, equine and human, get well sooner than later...

  4. I wouldn't worry about the sarcoids unless they get oozy, or are growing rapidly, or are in a problematic area (girth, mouth, etc.). Dawn had a large sarcoid on her neck that started growing rapidly - we did treat with Xterra and it's been gone for several years. She has another small one on a leg that we're leaving alone.

    Lily had a melanoma at the base of her tail that we had removed by the vet - it was pea-sized but if it had gotten larger it might have begun to interfere with pooping. We're monitoring but no more have shown up since. If the melanoma isn't in a difficult spot, leaving it alone may work as my understanding is that equine melanomas don't metastasize like human ones do - check with the vet. Almost all grey horses end up having some, and under the tail, the anal area, and around the genitals are common areas.

  5. I hate sarcoids! We have a few to be taken off in the fall too...the vet said he could just cut them away and do a type of skin graph on the area to make the hair grow back. Crazy eh!

    Good luck with the treatments.

  6. Ann: She was a very good girl indeed. I could not believe the appalling state of some of the horses in the photos I saw; probably a good idea to pass on that one ;o)

    Val: Thanks; can't believe I got 'em again. I'm going to ask my GP about that old fogey's shingle shot (twice is more than enough for me :oP
    Appreciate the wishes!

    Grace: Me too - me too! :o)

    Kate: We are just watching the Sarcoids; they're multiplying, but at a very slow pace and staying small (not touching 'em unless we have to; no siree bob).
    I'm for asking the vet as well; just getting the lay of the land right now as to the things we might need to know. I'm guessing that since Lady already has several lumps under there we're probably not going to be blessed with a once and done thing. Lousy location too *sigh*. Thanks SO much for the input, and I'm glad to know your Lily has not had any more trouble with them.

    Veronica: The Sarcoids aren't so bad; although the one on her barrel that ruptured was a bear to deal with. Lady's hair never did grow back on that spot. I'm much more concerned about the melanomas. Best of luck with removing the Sarcoids! Hope they all heal up and hair over ;o)

  7. You deserve an award...your post is so upbeat (despite your saying you are down in the dumps)... so evidently your writing makes a liar out of you! I am so sorry to hear about sacoids and shingles. You poor dear!

  8. Dreaming: The grace of God and a seriously warped sense of humor (also from the Lord IMHO) have gotten me through a considerable amount of awful over the past several years. As for the idiotic optimism? Well, I just can't seem to help myself.

    P.S. And don't forget...I ate all those doggone cupcakes too. Nothing like a sugar rush to perk you right up. *urp* ;o)

  9. Awe... you are so kind to blog about my shop:) Thanks!! I have a friend who breaks out with shingles every now and then :( I hope you feel better soon.

  10. Sorry Jen, don't know anything about Robert McDowell.

  11. GettingHooked: You are most welcome; I love my new stamp! I caught them early, so they are not too terrible (although I can't say I'm enjoying myself either ;o)

    Clancy: Well, poop. I'd hoped (even though it's a pretty big country) that maybe you'd heard of him. Oh, well. No worries (I love that phrase. ;o) Hope you're doing well and thanks so much for answering girl!

  12. :) Hi Jen, I'm good. In Sydney this week helping teach a research skills workshop.

  13. Oh no for all those lumps and bumps on the horses! Hope everything will be okay! We hope you feel better soon too!

  14. Clancy: Research, eh? Um, sounds Hee (actually, depending on the subject I love to research stuff ;o)

    BeadedTail: Thank you so much for the well wishes *scratch*scratch* (and *wince*wince*).
    We're getting there! ;o)

  15. It's no fun not feeling well - whether we are two legged or four legged. Hope everyone takes care! xo Catherine

  16. SarahBear looks hysterical in that mask. Poor thing, did she put it on herself?

    I feel for you and Lady. She's such a wonderful horse. I don't know much about the treatment for this sort of thing. I think you'll figure out the best treatment for her.

    Shingles! Yikes! That's so uncomfortable. Believe it or not they just came out with a shot to prevent them. I got it in August. Maybe you could look into it after this clears up. Good luck and have fun eating those sweets, it's just what you need.

  17. Thanks for stopping by to visit At The Farm.

    I learned a lot visiting here.

  18. Poor girl (you and the horse). I'll pray for you and your girl's melanoma. I am trying to tell people about your farm and to donate as well. Might not be much, but I figure every little bit helps :)
    Hope the rest of you are well,

  19. I will be putting my 27 year old beloved Grey down tomorrow due to the ravages of Melanoma. Granted,he lived for quite some time with them, however, they grew rapidly and have left us with no responsible options.
    My heart is broken, but I want to share what I have learned over the years.
    While these are called melanomas, they are a genetic disorder, and the condition is not reversible at this time.
    There are vaccines available, but those are only in test stages and are made to prevent occurence, cost thousands of dollars and are NOT proven.
    Tell yourself these are not curable and they are genetic many times a day.
    I used Cimetidine. No studies prove it is effective. I followed the dose religiously and used it for years. I feel it may have helped keep them from growing too large and may have helped.
    I tried Nubladas Cure. Do not waste your money. I did. I know, I tried everything.
    Please take your horse to the best gastrointestinal equine surgeon you can find. Get those lesions removed. Removing them will not cure her, but will keep them in check. Surgery will not cause them to spread or metastasize.
    I wish you the best. Those Greys are the sweetest horses.
    Please go to the best equine teaching hospital you can find and have them advise you.
    Best Wishes

Your comments really brighten my day!

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