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I have been planning to submit a testimonial to MVA for a while now, but I was waiting for the right time. Now that it has been over a year since our first visit and we have been through 4 of Metro’s departments, there is much to share, which means the testimonial has become quite long! Nonetheless, I didn’t want to leave anything out just in case others might find hope by reading our story.

Our journey with Metro started on April 5, 2023, when we were referred by our regular vet due to lameness and pain that my beautiful 8-year-old rescue pup Holly was experiencing in her front right leg. During the next 4 weeks, Dr. Dominique Sawyere and her team performed a series of x-rays, CT scans, and biopsies that led to the most dreaded of all diagnoses – Holly had a tumor on her ulna and it was a very aggressive form of cancer called osteosarcoma. Dr. Sawyere successfully performed amputation surgery on May 9, 2023, removing Holly’s entire front right leg, from toes to shoulder blade, with no complications.

We also discovered during an unrelated emergency visit with Dr. Jason Chamberlin (when Holly stopped eating for 24 hours for the first time ever!) that Holly had a mass on her spleen, though preliminary cell testing did not show any signs of cancer.

On June 21, 2023, we met Dr. Suzanne Rau and began our journey with Metro’s oncology department. Based on Dr. Rau’s recommendations, we decided to proceed with chemotherapy – including 5 rounds that successfully concluded in mid-September. Dr. Rau recommended regular chest x-rays from that point forward to check for spread of the osteosarcoma to Holly’s lungs and abdominal ultrasounds to “keep an eye on” the mass on Holly’s spleen.

On the same day as her final chemotherapy treatment on September 13, 2023, we had our first consultation with Dr. John Litterine-Kaufman (known to most as Dr. LK) to discuss Holly’s laryngeal paralysis (LP). In order to improve Holly’s breathing – and quality of life – we decided to proceed with the LP tie-back surgery, which Dr. LK and his team successfully performed on October 12, 2023, without complication.

We were hoping that we would be in the clear from then on, but in January 2024, a regular abdominal ultrasound performed during Holly’s oncology check-up with Dr. Rau revealed that the mass on her spleen had continued to grow, and was now at a size that might indicate the presence of another form of cancer. There was also a risk that it could rupture due to its size.

So we had yet another decision to make. Prior to that, the mass did not seem to be impacting Holly’s quality of life, so we hoped to continue down the path of “keeping an eye on it.” Then Holly started to show signs of being anemic in late January. A visit with her regular vet confirmed borderline anemia, which they suspected could be related to the mass on her spleen. As her energy levels continued to decline, we paid another visit to Dr. LK to discuss the possibility of and risks associated with a splenectomy. We decided to proceed with the surgery.

By the date of her surgery on February 22, 2024, Holly’s anemia had gotten considerably worse, and she had to undergo a transfusion prior to the surgery. Even so, her blood pressure remained scarily low during the surgery, but Dr. LK and his team saw her through the surgery and successfully removed her spleen and the mass, which had grown to an incredible 10.1 centimeters and had been sucking up blood and causing Holly’s anemia. The splenectomy was a great success and Holly’s energy was back to her normal levels within days. And even better, we soon found out that, against all odds, the mass was benign!

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Holly had also been plagued by chronic vomiting and nausea since early November. We had hoped that we could blame it on the mass on her spleen, but the vomiting continued even after the splenectomy. Thus began our relationship with Metro’s internal medicine department. We initially met with Dr. Leslie Kuczynski on March 15, 2024. As of that date, Holly had not vomited in 3 weeks, so we had thought maybe we were in the clear. We kept the appointment anyway and discussed the actions that we could take if the vomiting resumed. In typical Holly fashion, Holly vomited again that very evening, just hours after the appointment. Dr. Kuczynski and her team first did a GI panel. When that didn’t show anything concerning, she suggested that we start Holly on a hydrolyzed protein diet.

Holly was fully transitioned to the hydrolyzed protein diet as of the beginning of April. Her last dose of anti-nausea/anti-vomiting medication was given to her on April 7, 2024, and there has been no nausea or vomiting in the 5 weeks since!

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Holly’s amputation surgery, and Holly had her latest chest x-ray, abdominal ultrasound and oncology check-up with Dr. Rau. We are very happy to report that Dr. Rau saw no signs of spread of cancer!! With an osteosarcoma diagnosis, we may not ever be able to say that Holly is cancer-free, but what we can say for sure is that Holly is beating the odds!

I honestly cannot say enough about the doctors, nurses, and staff at Metropolitan Veterinary Associates. From the very start of our journey, the doctors and nurses were incredibly attentive, and they went out of their way to make Holly feel safe and comfortable every step of the way (not an easy feat for a vet-fearing pup like Holly!). They provided detailed information about all diagnoses and options, including risks and prognoses, with utmost kindness and patience.

Their incredible “bed” side manner aside, one of the things that most impresses me about Metro is the way that the different doctors and departments within Metro communicate with each other. During our time with Metro, Holly has seen 5 different doctors from 4 different departments. Each time we meet with a doctor, they are already fully informed about Holly’s background and what all the other departments and doctors had been doing, without my having to fill in any holes or background information. They make it clear during each and every appointment that while they are in that room with me or with Holly, Holly is their number one priority. I can’t tell you what a comfort that is, especially when faced with scary and life-changing decisions for a beloved fur-baby.

So thank you to everyone at Metro, especially Dr. Sawyere, Dr. Chamberlin, Dr. Rau, Dr. LK, Dr. Kuczynski, and your teams and nurses, for all that you have done for my beautiful Holly. And a special thank you especially to Lauren, who was one of Holly’s nurses during her very first visits and amputation surgery and recovery. Lauren goes out of her way to visit and love on Holly during every one of Holly’s visits, even though they are mostly outside of Lauren’s department, and after each of Holly’s surgeries, Lauren (and one of Dr. LK’s nurses Darby – also a rock star) sent Holly home with little written notes for me with words of encouragement and about their love of Holly. It’s little things like that that sometimes make the biggest difference.