Dog sniffs out tumour the size of a rugby ball in owner's leg

Danielle's leg after surgery, and Danielle with Dave now
Danielle says her dog Dave saved her life (Picture: Caters)
Danielle King couldn’t understand why her dog Dave kept sniffing and digging at her thigh.

But soon after, it started to swell up and the 34-year-old went to the GP.

Her doctor told her she needed an urgent scan, but while she was waiting, it got worse so she went to A&E, where tests revealed a huge tumour growing in the area that seven-year-old Dave had been sniffing at.

After an eight-and-a-half hour operation to fully remove the 20cm x 15cm x 10cm tumour and is now cancer-free.

Danielle from Basildon, Essex said: ‘I owe my life to Dave.

‘I will always tell him he saved my life because if I had left it a few weeks longer who knows what could have happened.

Danielle King with her staffordshire bull terrier Dave who sniffed out her massive 20cm long tumour
Danielle and Dave (Picture: Caters)

‘He kept on digging at my thigh and whining for about seven months before I finally went to the doctor.

‘He wouldn’t leave me alone and whenever I sat down on the sofa to have cuddles with him he would just start sniffing at my thigh and whining.

‘When my thigh started to swell up I thought maybe Dave was on to something so I decided to go and visit my GP.

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‘As soon as I showed the doctor my thigh his face turned white and he told me to go for a scan.’

Shop assistant Danielle had some pain in her leg a few years before but it wasn’t until the summer of 2017 when Dave started pestering her that she thought about it again.

Staffordshire bull terrier Dave sniffed at her right thigh whenever she was sitting on the sofa with him.

But when Danielle embarked on a holiday to Marmaris, Turkey in May 2017 she says she noticed first a lump and some swelling on her thigh.

Danielle says she returned to work back in the UK but soon began to feel unwell.

She said: ‘I just thought I’d been overdoing it at work a bit. The lump didn’t hurt at all and I thought that perhaps I had just pulled a muscle and maybe it had calcified.

‘It began to get bigger though to the extent that I thought my trousers were going to burst.

‘Dave had been scratching away and whining even more than usual at my thigh and my boss told me I had to go to my GP.

‘I went in to see my GP and as soon as I said I had a lump and showed him my thigh he went pale and immediately referred me for a scan.’

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The scan was booked for a fortnight later but when the swelling got worse, three days after her doctor’s appointment she went to A&E.

She said: ‘The nurses took one look at my leg and said it was probably a tumour and that’s when the nightmare began.’

Danielle's leg after being operated on
Danielle’s leg after being operated on (Picture: Caters)

After an urgent x-ray, bone and CT scan, Danielle was told that she had a chondrosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that causes bone tumours.

The tumour was 20cm long – about the size of a rugby ball.

She had an eight-and-a-half hour operation to remove the tumour in August 2017, but the tumour split during surgery and some of the cells were left in her leg.

In January 2019, she had to have more surgery when the cancer returned but at the end of last year, she was told she was free of the disease.

She said: ‘I hated feeling like things were out of control.

Danielle's leg after being operated on
Danielle had her tumour removed in 2017 (Picture: Caters)

‘It was great to finally have the all-clear in December but I’m always one scan away from things changing again.

‘I’m determined to raise awareness and to share my story with as many people as possible.

‘My dogs knew something was up and I acted like everything was fine.

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‘I’m just glad I went to A&E when I did, things would have been so much worse if I hadn’t gone when I had.

Danielle is currently fundraising for gene testing on GoFundMe so she can access trials if the cancer returns again.

Do you have a special story about your pet? Let us know at [email protected] .

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