Spoiler warning - there are some pictures that have blood in this post. If you are overly squeamish, maybe avoid this post and wait for a nicer one full of rabbits, cats and ribbons.
When I met Mav, I noticed he had a weird thing on his face. I initially thought little of it, but considered the possibility it was a Sarcoid. Then I looked back at some other pictures of him taken previously by his owner and I knew it was, since it had been there a while. But one Sarcoid is not going to put me off, I hoped since it was not big it may never change right? Or better, it is like Miss H who had hers disappear after 6 months. I am still not obsessing over it, but, spoilers, we are currently in the not so nice phase of treatment. Sorry to say this is not yet a success story, but rather an explanation regarding what the strange thing on his face is and our journey to date.
Sarcoids are a non-malignant growth horses get. The outside part is usually the smaller area, like an iceberg, so below the surface is more sarcoid tissue. They are apparently caused by a Bovine virus (Bovine Papilloma Virus for those really interested). Like Herpes, I guess, since it is extremely hard to kill the virus but causes lesions. Horses can get these anywhere on their bodies and there are many different types. Historically, there are creams than burn the sarcoid tissue off (I am trying to avoid this option) and there are removal techniques (minor surgery and lasers) all of which have a not so great success rate for regrowth. Mavs is on his cheek where there is not much below the skin before bone. My limited understanding of Sarcoids (thanks to Google), tells me Sarcoids do not invade the bone so this one can not be too deep. Sometimes I am wrong.
Sarcoid as it presented when he arrived. Looking pretty benign.
I have also learned his full sister has had two "growths" removed from above her eye. I am assuming also Sarcoids so they could either be genetic , or something in the environment. Except, she grew up in a completely different province other than her first year of life so it could be a complete coincidence. Anyways, I had the vet peek at it during the visit to do his teeth and shots a couple weeks after he arrived and she said keep an eye on it. So I did. She also said options were 1) give him immune boosting drugs, 2) laser it off. Harsh Sarcoid creams were not feasible due to the location near his eye.
The issue was, the sarcoid started to change.
It would grow like a scab and then come off leaving an angry red mark. He never seemed to care, or be remotely sensitive about it, but now I am presented with the issue that it is changing. Change is bad when you are a Sarcoid. You want to either not change, or change in a smaller leaving type way. It was quick. Like the beginning of March it was the same as always and by the end of March it was not. It started growing outward and falling off. Houston, we have a problem.
If you get past the red blotch on his face, I am intrigued by my reflection in his eye. This may be as close to art production as I get.
Then AC (Amazing Coach for those not following along) looked at it and told me about a product she was using on her horse. I will reveal the company if it heals. If not, I will reveal the company anyways but you will have to come back for that.
I decided it was worth a try as her horse had seen significant improvement on Sarcoids of a different type, which would have otherwise required surgery to remove. For a couple hundred dollars, I thought I would give it a try so placed my order with her refill. It is not harsh and will not burn the Sarcoid or healthy surrounding tissue so causes no discomfort to the horse. There were lots of success stories online and many people recommended the products.
As a bonus, the owner of the company is really great at communication. I sent him pictures beforehand and recently for assessment and always get a quick reply. He gave me the initial treatment plan and makes changes as we go on based on pictures and information I send. I am still hopeful the treatment will be successful but it is a long haul kind of thing. I started treatment early April and it is now July but it could take months or even a year apparently.
So this treatment includes an immune builder oral supplement (of which they get a tiny bit on a stick), a cleanser product (that comes in a concentrate you add water to and put in a spray bottle) and a topical ointment. You use very little of each product at a time, which is good since the jars are quite small. The products are sticky. Very Sticky. I have taken to using a finger cot to put the ointment on or my finger is sticky for ages. It is honey based, so that part makes sense. The cleanser removes the sticky like magic however and it also useful for cleaning hands. It also seems to remove hair so for now, I do not use it unless the sarcoid is quite dirty. He wears his fly mask 24/7 right now so that has not been an issue.
Initially it kept up a cycle of grow then fall off and each time the area underneath got smaller. I thought maybe this was going to be easy after all. A couple of months and poof it is gone. I refer you back to my earlier comment, sometime I am wrong.
Then the hair started falling out. I emailed excellent communicating Sarcoid treatment guy to learn this was normal and it would grow back, he promised.
Things were looking pretty great. This is working I am thinking! things are happening. But the thing about Sarcoids? Sarcoids fight back. They do not wish to be healed. They do not wish to go away. They are weird and clingy. They are like a bad sales person that keeps calling and emailing even if you have ignored the first 100 attempts at contact. Fortunately, I am that person who can ignore indefinitely, we have already discussed my persistence.
We are approximately 2 months into treatment and the Sarcoid is mad now. Not just a bit mad, it is angry like a wet cat being shampooed. The full extent of the affected tissue is now showing itself. It is much larger than I thought. There is a new area well below the original that is showing itself. I am worried, I message Excellent Communicating Sarcoid Guy with pictures. Normal he says. Keep going. Change to immune builder daily.
The Immune builder is fed on a popsicle stick in a tiny amount, Initially, Mav was like WTF is this weird stuff but now he happily sucks it off the stick.
This week started off with it looking like this
You can see a new part coming out towards the bottom of the hairless area. That is a new bump forming which I assume will also grow then fall off. The main bump is the one that has remained the biggest. I am waiting to see what happens when the newest growth falls off. Will the tissue underneath be a smaller areas than before?
It did fall off, or maybe be ripped it off, or rubbed it off, or got help from his Uncle Kanje. Regardless of cause, it is now quite bloody.
An almost full side view of his head to give perspective on how large of an area it was now compared to when we started.
This is where we are today. About 90 days into treatment. The area gets smaller every time it falls off.
So for now, I keep going. I give him the stuff on the stick and put on the topical every day. Come back in another couple of months for the update and at that time I will name the products I am using!