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.
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.