By David Aspinall
A dog survivor couldn’t hide his excitement at finding out he is cancer free.
American pitbull Stig had been diagnosed with grade III mast cell cancer with a high mitotic index in September 2017 and given just nine months to live
When owner Chris Hughes received a call from the 10-year-old pooch’s oncologist on December 28, 2018, he wasn’t expecting good news.
Stunned by the information Stig’s cancer had disappeared, the 32-year-old couldn’t wait to tell his beloved pooch.
Sitting him down at home in Clifton Park, New York, he tells ‘Diggy’ that he is cancer free, leaving his dog to jump on the kitchen table, tail wagging and grin wide.
Chris said: “We just had a mixture of relief, shock and excitement.
“That news was not something we were expecting at all.
“We always expected the other shoe to drop at some point, whether it be another surgery or to be told the cancer had spread.
“Stig was given such a short timeframe for that chemo to keep his cancer at bay, we never expected he could come off it.
“To be told he was cancer free was just jaw dropping.”
Once the initial shock had worn off, Chris treated Stig to a hearty steak and sweet potato meal as a tasty treat.
Previously, Stig had a low grad mast cell tumour removed from his abdomen in 2015 afte it was mistaken for a nipple.
In September 2017, a pathology test confirm that a lipoma had changed in size, resulting in surgery to remove the tumour, needing an incision of about 18inches long.
Chris said: “He was sent home the same day and that night we rushed him to the ER.
“His temperature was low and his bleeding hadn’t stopped enough for us to feel comfortable.
“The ER put a pressure dressing on him and considered a drain but didn’t want to open him up to any kind of infection.
“He had to stay there for several days, was discharged home and then when he went back for a dressing change they noted that his incision started to open (dehiscence) and he had an infection.”
On the same day, the family received the devastating news that Stig had grade III mast cell cancer with a high mitotic index.
Despite the surgery and there being no evidence of disease at a checkup one month later, his tumor report recommended Stig start a chemotherapy called Palladia
The median life expectancy for type and grade of cancer that Stig had is nine months and that is what Chris and his wife Mariesa had expected.
After another follow up in March 26, 2018, Stig showed no evidence of disease, but continued the chemotherapy, until finally being cleared just after Christmas 2018.
Mariesa said: “He was unphased by the treatment and tolerated it well.
“The only effect it had was that the chemo has to be administered wearing gloves because it is toxic to humans and it is excreted in his feces so that had to be picked up right away.
“It was a very scary time for us.
“Stig is my baby blue, he sleeps in my arms every night, in the middle of the night he wakes up and kisses me and then goes back to sleep, he is the sweetest, most gentle soul in the dog house.”
As part of their rescue centre called The Mr Mo Project, Chris and Mariesa look after 17 dogs in total, including Stig.
They are made up of senior dogs saved from kill shelters and owner surrenders, where the pair pay the medical bills for the canines for the rest of their lives
They have also helped house more than 100 extra pooches in foster homes across the USA.
For more information, visit www.mrmoproject.com.