Thursday, September 18, 2014

Please don't let it be Cancer

Cancer.  The scariest word in our vocabularly whether you're applying to human or animals.  We just went through our own cancer scare with Eli our 4 yr old Bloodhound.

It started a year ago when my husband Michael found a small lump in Eli's neck.  He rushed him into the vet who, after examining it and Eli said it wasn't anything to worry about.  Over the months is started to very slowly get bigger.  About six weeks ago with yet another vet appointment for this, our doc says it could be a tooth that is causing in infection.  Thus the enlarged lymphnode.  So, we set the boy up for a dental, with a possibility of removing the lymphnode.  On the table they discovered indeed a tooth was very unhappy and removed it.  We thought it was over.

Nope, 2 plus weeks into is recovery and the lymphnode is getting bigger, quickly.  It's now the size of a large egg and another one alongside it has started to enlarge.  We talk to the vet and he suggests we remove it and send it in to pathology for examination.  So on Monday 9/15/14 we take the boy in for surgery.  They remove it, and tell us it will be 4-5 days before we get an answer.  In the meantime the boy is feeling great.  Evidently that huge thing in his neck was one of the reasons he wasn't eating well (he had lost about six pounds in the last month or so).  He was definitely happier than I had seen him for a while and he began eating every piece of kibble or treat we gave him!  Clearly this couldn't be cancer, right?

As we waited, although my gut and heart was saying it wasn't cancer (which would be lymphoma).  But my head kept getting in the way with little whispers of all the signs that didn't look good.  This was particularly hard on my husband, who Eli owns.  Back five years ago we lost our first bloodhound Gabriel to bone cancer at this exact age.  Michael was beside himself, as was I.  The wait is unbelievably long and hard. 

On Wed, on day 3 of the wait Michael gets a call on his cell phone from the vet.  He wasn't able to answer it, but rather saw he had a message.  He waited 2 hours before finally retrieving it.  The vet started right out with  IT'S NOT CANCER!  There aren't words (and I'm pretty good with them!) that can possibly describe the relief, happiness and gratefullness that we felt with those three words.  The cause of the lympnode erruption is a bad infection somewhere.  They are doing more tests to see what kind of bacteria is in this lymponode.  I'm leaning towards an inner ear infection that has been sitting there for a while.  He doesn't have any ear infection symptoms but his eyes are always very wheepy (more so the last six months to the point we're constantly cleaning them).  Much easier to chase down this diagnosis than the other.

Having heard the "C" word applied to a dog of mine twice now, I not only can sympathize, but also have empathy for those going through this.   Be sure you reach out to friends who understand your love of this dog.  Who won't tell you "get over it, it's just a dog"!  And hang on.  We were very fortunate to have this kind of ending to this journey.  Not all do.  But folks who are stewards of their animal friends know how hard it is.  I thought I would just keep this quiet and not say anything until we knew what the outcome was.  It ate me up.  When I finally shared it with a few close friends they listened, shared my pain and fear and hugged me.  It was just what I needed.   My words of advice is don't try to go through this alone.  It makes the pain and fear worse.  Friends who understand can give you more than any thing else out there!

So hug them there animal friends of yours!  And remember, this is a journey you are on with your dog.   Embrace each moment, good and bad.  Journey's always do come to an end, but what's inbetween is priceless! 

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