Snowboy, our 23 year old, Pony of America (POA), went to Texas A&M Vet (TAMU) Hospital right after Christmas. While I knew they would be short staffed with the holiday I wanted to get him there before Lauren left for Florida. Dr. Lynn Criner had diagnosed my pony with what she thought was a cancerous spot on the outside of his penis.
This pony has overcome many hurdles in his life from starvation to adoption from the ASPCA to life-threatening colics. Not at all surprising for a cat, but a pony with nine lives, who knew? He is, also, the pony that so many have ridden and enjoyed in his lifetime.
As usual, the lead vet, Dr. Whitmore, was not sure he agreed with Lynn’s diagnosis ( her diagnosis has always been right when I send a horse to them but the TAMU docs always are skeptical). He thought Snow might just have a “summer sore” (an open area of skin where the flies have irritated and inflamed the skin) and not have cancer. I was okay with that. As the TAMU was seeing emergency patients first, we were not really sure when Snow would go in for surgery.
I got a call that night that the surgery had been completed. They had cleared out the affected area. Dr. Whitmore still wasn’t sure what he was seeing but they had sent a sample to the lab. Snow had come through the surgery well. They anticipated that he would have a rough night and a lot of swelling the next day with a time to come home to be determined based upon how he did.
The next morning, Dr. Whitmore called again. “Come pick up Snowboy, he is yelling for his food and ready to go!”
“He doesn’t have a lot of swelling and he is not in a lot of pain?” I asked, “What are his instructions and when can Jordyn ride him?” Jordyn had just learned to canter and wanted to get back on Snowboy.
“No, he has very little swelling and seems happy as can be. In fact, he can be ridden today”, he answered.
Wow, I thought, the wonder pony comes through diversity again.
About a week later, the histology report came back for Snow. I was in a meeting at work when the phone lit up with TAMU information. While people gathered in the room, I sat and listened to lab report and Dr. Whitmore.
“Well, it was both a summer sore and squamous cell carcinoma.” Dr. Whitmore stated. He went on. “There is good news and bad news.”
My heart starting beating a little faster and looked around the room to see if anyone was noticing I was about to cry.
“The good news is all the margins look good on his penis. We feel we got everything and the area is clean. The bad news is that the cancer appears to have spread to his lymphatic system.”
Again, I risked a look around the room, no one paying any attention to me.
“What can we do?” I asked.
“Given his age, I think we just have to watch, wait and keep him comfortable.” he said.
Dr. Whitmore explained there was a chemo drug that might work but we decided it was not a good option for us now.
I said thank you and goodbye. I took a deep breath and turned my chair to group with tears in my eyes. Without missing a beat, although my thoughts and heart were going a million miles an hour, I welcomed our international and traveling guests to the meeting.
We have decided to tell Jordyn and Kendyll the absolute truth about this matter. We will lose Snow but who knows exactly when. If any pony is up for the fight, it is Snowney Pony, as Jordyn used to call him. We have enlisted their help as his nurses. When grooming him, they will carefully check under his front legs and back for any new bumps or lumps. They will watch him for discomfort or pain.
Mostly, they will lavish love and attention on the little white horse that we love so much. He will probably outlive me! But if he is on his ninth life here, this time he is going to be one super spoiled boy!
Thank you for riding along!