Michelle Isenhoff

They Say Bad Luck Comes in Sets of Three

I have to warn you, this post isn’t about books.  It’s very personal.  I feel like I have a small family out in Blogland that is safe and removed my everyday life, and right now I really need a little support from you guys.  2012 has shaped up to be a rather difficult year.
First, our cat, Missy, disappeared in July, presumably the work of coyotes.  Second, I had a dandy health run that resulted in surgery in October.  Then two weeks after that—as soon as I could drive—I had a couple of vet appointments I had to get my furry kids to.  Ko Ko, our newbie, needed kitten things done, and Bailey, my five-year-old golden/lab mix had a sore on her paw.  By the time I could get them there, Bailey’s paw was mostly healed and of no concern to the vet, but the assistant spotted another, larger lump on her hock.  We scheduled surgery to remove it.  Turns out, it’s probably cancer.
The vet didn’t say those words outright.  I’m sure she’s learned to be very cautious in how she breaks this sort of news.  She told me the growth was “very aggressive.”  It had wrapped partially around the bone and was impossible to remove completely, though she scraped it as clean as she could.
I didn’t really understand what that meant, so I asked, “What do we do if it comes back?”
She replied, “Oh, it’s coming back.”
“So what do we do, remove it again?”
“No, that just makes it angry.”
“So what can we do?”
“That depends what it is.”
She suggested I submit the biopsy for a pathology report to determine the best method of treatment, which I agreed to.  She also encouraged me to talk with a specialist once the report came back.  “Can we schedule you a visit with the oncologist?”
I agreed again, but in my extreme naivety, I still hadn’t made the connection to that awful word, cancer.  I pressed again, “If we can’t remove it, what do we do next?”
“They’ll probably recommend radiation.”
That did it.  That’s when the lights went on.

My beautiful Bailey.

I spent the night on the couch beside Bailey to make sure she didn’t do anything goofy as the anesthesia wore off.  I confess I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  I cried.  I prayed.  I hugged and stroked Bailey.  I reviewed every word of the conversation in the vet’s office.  I pleaded with God for the life of my beloved friend.  And I felt utterly crushed.
I decided not to tell my husband, who is an animal tolerater not an animal lover (and who just left for ten days of deer camp), until I learn more.  I’m just not ready yet to deal with his casual attitude or any suggestions to throw her away.  (He doesn’t read this, and if by chance you few locals are reading, please let me tell him.)  So all this week as I’ve waited for the pathology report to come in, I’ve researched online.  My best guess is that it’s a form of locally invasive soft tissue cancer.  There are several kinds, but treatments are very similar.  And expensive.  The most manageable expense and surest outcome seems to be amputation, but I really don’t know anything for sure yet.  You can bet I haven’t gotten any writing done.
If Bailey was four or five years older, I’d very tearfully and regretfully let nature run its course and euthanize her when her quality of life grew poor.  For an old dog, it’s hard to justify a substantial expense for one issue when she’s likely to develop others at any time.  But Bailey’s only five.  If we can spend several more good years together, I’ll do it, even if it means she learns to be tripawed.
I’m encouraged throughout this whole ordeal by a strong believe—a conviction, if you will—that an animal’s spirit was created to live forever, and I’ve never seen in scripture that God changed his mind on that despite what most preachers will tell you.  I reflected on that more on my religious blog.  But that knowing still doesn’t help the hurting when an animal departs.  If I can put that off another several years, it would sure be worth it to me.
I’m thankful this hasn’t happened to one of my kids, but my dog is a close second.  Has anyone else dealt with this?  Any suggestions or encouragement?  I sure could use them.
*I didn’t realize Network Blogs posted this to Facebook where many of my local friends hang out and sometimes find my posts.  I thought I prevented that but I guess it didn’t work.  And I forgot to double check.  I really didn’t want to break this news locally yet.  I was looking for some support from more distant regions until I know more.  So again I ask you guys to hold off on sharing it.  There’s only a couple of you who ever read this, and I just deleted the post from Facebook so it won’t be stumbled on further.  I don’t want to be sneaky.  I just need my ducks in a better row before I face my husband or face-to-face friends.  Guess that’s the danger of posting online, though.  I really debated on even posting this yet, but it sure is lonely in the meantime.  Thanks, you guys.

They Say Bad Luck Comes in Sets of Three

10 thoughts on “They Say Bad Luck Comes in Sets of Three

  1. Michelle, not sure if I have words of encouragement, but I too just went through this with Tonka. On my birthday in May I had to take him in because I found a large mass growing from his gum on his lower jaw. And then I had to take him in a week later on my anniversary to have it surgically removed. The vet also wanted us to do blood work and biopsy. My husband likes animals, but isn’t too keen on spending money on them. He allowed me to have the surgery done, but put his foot down on the other testing. I too spent my birthday and my anniversary crying for my “fifth child”. My friend who follows me everywhere and thinks he is a 50lb lap dog. I read your post the other day on your religious blog on animals going to heaven. I’ve said that for years and people think I’m nuts. Well, I choose to believe the same way you do, you just can express it a lot better than I. Tonka is older than Bailey and has had a good life. I watch regularly for more masses and in the mean time, enjoy him. Like I said, no words of encouragement, just that I know where you’re coming from my friend.

    1. Thanks, Krista. Sharing doesn’t make anything go away, but understanding makes you feel like you’re not alone. I hope Tonka lives for more good years. Enjoying them is the key, till we see them again after a thirty year separation.

  2. Michelle, my heart aches for you. Such a tought decision. When I had to make the decision about our poodle, she was 17 yrs old, and kept going into heart failure. I do know my brother’s favorite prize retrieving dog developed cancer and they went through radiation or chemo. Remember it was very hard on his dog and the Dublin suffered greatly and was weak. Know you don’t want to hear this, but the dog didn’t do well and passed. In retrospect, my brother wished he had let nature take his course because the treatments were hard on the dog. I can’t remember where the cancer was. I think you need to listen to what the vets recommend and ask tough questions. If it’s a non-agressive tumor, then it may be the right thing for you to do. I do feel for you as my poodle is 6 yrs old and still like a youngster. Know you are in my thoughts. Now my young brother has colon cancer and my other younger brother has throat cancer. So I know the ups and downs.

  3. Michelle, in the rescue dogs my friend has seen the past several years, more and more of them are developing a cancer of some type. I don’t know what is causing all of this but it is heartbreaking. I had two cats that both had a cancerous tumor on their back. Both, thankfully, recovered fully after an expensive surgery. With the dogs, often the treatment is difficult on them and often not worth the outcome. Several had tumors on their legs that eventually weakened the bones and fractured. This has happened with dogs of one year and one that was seven. In both cases we had to let them go. Their suffering was too great. I’m sorry. I know this is all horrible and not what you want to hear. I wish I could give you some hope, but all I can offer are my prayers. My heart broke seeing your pal with the split on (picture above). Personally, I would not put a dog through chemo or radiation. The suffering those treatments cause is difficult on the dogs. I am so sorry.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about Bailey. I also believe that animals go to heaven. It comforts me to think our dog Bart is happily chasing squirrels in heaven, climbing trees, and being kind. That also lightens the subject. I hope Bailey lives. My condolences to everyone with sad stories about their pets.

    1. Thanks, Erik. I remember your post about Bart. You already know how hard it is to loose a furry friend. I’m praying and praying, and I’ll do what my heart tells me is best for Bailey. I just hope I don’t have to say goodbye for a good while yet.

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