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It was just a small lymph node…

Maia was diagnosed with Lymphoma on March 31st, 2015. I do remember the date because this is the day where I went to sign the lease for the store. I thought she had an ear infection because she was shaking her head so much. I will remember that morning forever. I took her out of my truck and went back for Sophie who was limping. I had one step inside my vet’s office with Sophie and  I knew right away something was dead wrong. Maia’s lymph nodes were swollen and he thought it was Lymphoma. I do not want to give Lymphoma a capital L but my auto speller doesn’t want to hear about it. It doesn’t deserve a capital L that’s the least I can say.

 

From the minute I got her, I loved her. She was 8 weeks old and she was perfect from the beginning. Taking her out of a pretty cold garage a day before a snow storm, she never ever did anything wrong in her life. NEVER. She never chewed anything which was inappropriate (right Zeke?). She never had an accident in the house. Maia has just been my perfect pup from 8 weeks old until that March 31 of 2015 where cancer had the bad taste of invading her body.

 

If I had done nothing she would have been gone within 6 weeks. So we did something. I learned a lot about Lymphoma. There are two types: B cells and T cells. The B cells respond the best to chemotherapy. So 2 days later, we started chemotherapy. When I said we, she was the one to take the crap, but going every week for six months takes a toll on the parent too. This is when we developed that bond. I knew her so well. Maia is a very sensitive girl, and when she felt crappy, at one point, she stopped eating. Yes, she became anorexic. The oncologist I was seeing at the first place told me: “Put a bowl of kibbles on the floor and she will eat when she will be hungry.” All wrong. I knew my girl. I knew how sensitive she was, and that’s one of the messages I want to send tonight: Trust your feelings about your dog. The vet or oncologist or any other specialist doesn’t know your pup like you do.

We left fast that place where they were treating every single dog with Lymphoma the same way, and as a matter of fact, they almost killed my girl after giving her a sulfa antibiotics which made her temperature rise to 105 and became totally lethargic. Who would not be when you have such a colossal fever? I was the one, not the vet, to figure it out. That was the week where I took her away from that place, and found Dr. Beck, an oncologist at the Hope Center in Vienna, Va.

She got us right away. Right away she treated Maia as Maia and not as a dog with Lymphoma. She saved my girl. And after six long months of chemotherapy, Maia went into remission. It was in October of 2015.  Cancer came back in July of 2016 and I do believe that it came back because of me. Maia and I are like two peas in a pod. I have to stay Zen for her or she starts worrying about me as much as I worry about her. In June 2016, one my other girls, Lola died of liver cancer a month after being diagnosed, and it took my Zen thing kind of away from me.

 

So we started  chemotherapy again for six months every single week…. And in January of this year, she was in remission again, and sue me, but 5% of the dogs with Lymphoma get into remission like forever, and that was the plan. Why would not she be in those 5%? She was my mighty girl, and we had such a streak of bad luck between the Lymphoma,  a torn cruciate and then the Vestibular Disease, my girl deserved a break…. and we got that break until yesterday.

 

At her last monthly oncology recheck, they found a swollen Lymph node, but Maia had allergies, an ear infection, so it had to be that, right? They gave her antibiotics but at one point when I went to my regular vet, he decided to do an aspiration to see what was in that swollen node. I was not worried. She had an ear infection and those lymph nodes are supposed to do their jobs when there is an infection lingering around right? Then it was Labor Day weekend (Reminder for me, and only me: don’t trust anything happening on Labor Day weekend!), and I noticed the node was getting smaller, so I was totally at ease when my vet called me yesterday to break the news. The pathologist was 100% sure that cancer came back with a vengeance: “high grade Lymphoma”. It took me a second to google it to see that it was the most aggressive form of Lymphoma striking as many internal organs that it could. Lymphoma is like a snake. You never see it coming. It goes so slow…. But then it attacks and you don’t even realize where it was coming from.

 

The thing is my girl is happy. She eats pretty well, goes for walk, swims (it just took her ten years to enjoy it), barks at me if I stay too long in the pool area while another dog is swimming. So tomorrow, we are going to see the oncologist, not Dr. Beck who is unfortunately on vacation this week, but the other one. I know one thing, and one thing only: I want her to stay happy. I want her to leave on a good day. So I have no clue what is going to be said tomorrow. I just know that I do not, it’s not I do not, it’s just that I cannot make her miserable to have her a few more weeks with me. It would be so unfair to her. And at the end of the journey, it’s all that matters. A very wise friend told me some time ago “Dogs are not afraid of death.” Today is a no man’s land since I don’t know what tomorrow will be made of. I just know one thing: my girl is going to leave after having a very good day because that’s what she deserves, and I will not cry because I just don’t want her to worry about me. It breaks my heart. For a year and half, every day, she went to the pool with me. She is so paranoid that I could forget her (how could I? Seriously?) that by 7;30am she is by the front door, making sure that I will not go anywhere without her. How do you go on after that?

 

 

I have no clue…. The ironic thing is that I stopped writing a year ago after Jackson died. It was like my brain was frozen as well as my fingers. How ironic that I start writing again when another death is going to hit me. A year ago, I had an animal communicator come to my house because you see I was worried about Maia. She was refusing to drink except if I were giving her a glass with fresh water. The first thing that animal communicator told me when I said I was worried about her, she smiled, and she told me “that’s the first thing Maia told me: that she was so worried about you.” Life after Maia? I have no clue how it will be. I have no clue how many times a heart can be broken. The only thing I now for sure is that I will deal with myself after she is gone, because for the time being, it’s all about Maia. 

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Animal communicator, etc….

I just removed this specific post. I had two bad experiences with an animal communicator, and I thought until a few days ago that the third one was amazing…. It was not.

She was half dog communicator, and half psychic I guess. Not sure about the animal communicator part, but the psychic part was like the wires were not connected properly. She told me that one specific dog will have a very long life, and that there would not be anymore cancer in my crew. Two months later, the one who was supposed to have a very, very, very long life, dropped dead from cancer, hemangiosarcoma to be precise.

At the time where that woman came to my house, Zoe must already have cancer blossoming in her body since it had time to spread all over. Therefore, I am removing this post. I should have brought them tons of treats. It would have been more useful.

 

 

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Today is a good day to cry….

I had a rough year, I mean, you really have to try hard to beat me on that one, and I am not into competition, believe me, especially not when it concerns my kids, four and two-legged ones.

Last year, I learned that Maia, my then 9 year old black lab, had Lymphoma, and had a month to live if I chose not to do anything. So, Maia and I chose to fight cancer. I almost lost her last July, when her temperature sky rocketed to 105.5 due to an allergy to antibiotics, but then she bounced back, and with the right oncologist, we made it through the six months – six long months – of chemotherapy. She is now in her 10th month of remission, but I don’t brag about it. I am so afraid to jinx it. I bought months ago a pink rubber bracelet from The National Canine Cancer Foundation and I never take it off. I am not superstitious, and I do walk under ladders, but I guess when it comes to my dogs, I am superstitious.

After Maia, came Jackson who suddenly was diagnosed with heart disease at 7 years old, and is currently doing well. Crossing fingers, toes, paws and whatever is available to cross.

Then Sammie, my little one, my fierce big dog trapped in a small body lost his fight to heart disease. You see you pick your poison: you have heart disease so you take meds which are going to screw up your kidneys. He died of kidney failure a month ago. 14 years with that little devil, and suddenly, despite of six other dogs, the house feels quiet and empty.

And then came Lola. Lola just turned 10 on May 28th, and we celebrated her birthday with roasted chickens. Have you ever met a dog who did not like roasted chickens? Me neither.

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Lola, it’s a long story. I got her when she was 6 weeks old, and she drove me freaking crazy. It was not her fault. She was taken away from her Mom far too early, and had no skills, like she was on my lap, and suddenly she was peeing on me. Yeah, seriously!

But we grew up together in many ways even though I think she really considered my daughter, Jessica, like her Mom. Jessica was with me when we picked her up, and she has a special relationship with Jessica. We went together to visit Jessica in college when she chose to go to Delaware…. Lola was and still is my best buddy, the girlfriend who is always there for you. She is also my crazy girl who must have been a fish in another life.

When she was three months old, her mission in life was to retrieve every leaf from the canal when she went swimming. That was my girl. Gosh, that dog loves to swim. So, when I decided to build a swimming pool for dogs (because swimming is the best thing you can do for your dog at any stage of his/her life), I was smiling…. I thought Lola was not going to believe it that she could go swimming every day of her life if she wanted to. And the pools opened, and Lola went swimming. She is a strong swimmer and can swim non stop for a good 20 minutes. I always joked that she would drop dead before stopping…. I guess this is a lab thing….. until yesterday.

 

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Yesterday I took her to the pool, and after 5 minutes, she just stopped, bumper still in her mouth, but trying to get her breathing back. Yesterday, I knew right away, that something was off. Last night, I spent my time on the computer googling…. lung cancer in dogs. This morning, I went to my vet, asking for the whole nine yards for Lola, because I don’t think I have ever been an ostrich in my previous lives, and I wanted to know. I knew it was bad. Walking her in the morning with her daughter Sophie, for the last few weeks, she was panting right away, and I attributed it to the heat, but…. this morning it was cool and she was still panting….

X-rays were done, and there is a mass in her lung, just one apparently…. Primary lung cancer is rare in dogs. Only 1% of dogs with cancer get that shit. Most of the time it’s secondary, meaning the cancer started somewhere else, and then spread to the lungs. It doesn’t seem to be the case, so maybe she is in the 1%. Her lymph nodes are nowhere to be seen. Call me paranoid but with Maia’s lymphoma, I check out my dogs all the time.

If it’s primary, there are options like removing the lobe, but it also means breaking her rib cage. Do you have any idea how it feels to break your rib cage? I am not sure I want to know.

I had an appointment for Maia for her regular remission check up this coming Monday with her oncologist, so I just called, and I will bring both girls this coming Wednesday instead and we will go from there.

Last time I felt that way was when we had to put our horse down. I will never ever have another horse, but it felt like being skinned alive…. That’s exactly how I feel right now. This is Lola we are talking about, my lovely, sweet girl, my tomboy during the day and love bug at night. It hurts so much than I can barely breathe. Today, I am giving today to myself to cry and cry. Tomorrow and the following days and weeks won’t be about me, but about her. But today I am selfish, and today is all about me and losing my best friend.  Tomorrow and the following weeks will be about fighting and doing the best for her, because she deserves the best. She deserves dignity. She deserves love, and she deserves respect. I love her to the moon and back and I will do what’s best for her. I can always deal with me later on. But today is the only break I am giving to myself and then, tomorrow we will start fighting.