Saturday, December 31, 2011

Toodle-oo 2011

Oh yeah, what a year. And I don't mean in a swell "let's do that again!" kind of way.

Without rehashing the details let's just say it's been a challenging year, from the death of one beloved dog, a terminal cancer in another, and the discovery of an extremely rare blood disease in myself.

Sometimes I've felt like the locusts must be right around the corner.

But around that same corner are people who have provided love and support during trying times: such as the countless expressions of sympathy I received when Lucy died, and the sincere concern and dismay expressed over Elvis' battle with cancer. My friends understand what my dogs mean to me.

There's my best friend, Pam, who took precious vacation days so she could sit with me during my own chemo treatments. Deb, who felt so helpless across the country in her new North Carolina home and downloaded books on her personal iPod so I'd have something to listen to during the five-hour sessions. My beloved "baby" sister Jennifer, who accompanied me to doctor appointments, holding my hand and reassuring me that everything would be okay.

Not to mention all the others who checked in constantly when they learned of my blood disorder and subsequent treatment; Calling, emailing, texting, asking how I was and what could they do for me. Not realizing they were already doing the most important thing:

Reminding me that I am loved.

And so, on this final day of 2011, this is what I want to remember: not the sadness, stress and tears, but the warm glow of love that emanates from my family and friends. This is what matters. This is what makes me strong. Happy. Blessed.

To you and yours, a very Happy 2012.

Eileen, Elvis & Olivia

Monday, December 26, 2011

Elvis Fights the Good Fight

This past Thanksgiving weekend, when Elvis was diagnosed with an aggressive tonsil cancer, my vet consulted with U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Oncology. After all, if anyone would know anything about anything, it would be them. And he was told that despite the seriousness of this particular cancer, chemo might buy my beautiful boy some quality time.

That was all I needed to hear. Qu
ality time? Let's do it.

And so, I scheduled a three-hour drip chemo for Elvis that following week and he responded beautifully. Not only did he dodge potential side effects, but he appeared to be feeling better than ever. He was excited about walks, enthusiastic about food, and was traipsing around the house with a playfulness I hadn't seen in months. I was over-the-top delighted and encouraged.

Maybe my boy would be sticking around for awhile, after all.

And so, I was feeling pretty good this afternoon when I picked Elvis up from his second chemo treatment at my vet's office. We were fighting the good fight, doing all possible to delay this cancerous spread and, by all counts, we appeared to be holding down the fort. That's why I was blindsided by Dr. Arnott's news.

The tumor was back.

Already the size of a walnut, the cancerous demon has returned to the same spot where he excised a fist-sized tumor just three weeks ago. The chemo isn't helping, he told me. If it was, the tumor wouldn't have returned so quickly.

Dr. Arnott is calling U.C. Davis for further advice when they reopen after the holidays, but he warned me: there's not much else we can do to treat Elvis. As we were having this dire discussion, my sweet boy just stood there looking at me, anxious to leave and eager for a walk.

I took him on his walk and observed how deceptively healthy he looked. I admired his gentle beauty and thought about the little things he does that have become so entrenched in my life; the way he taps my face with his nose every night, when I'm in bed, before retiring to his La-Z-Dog Recliner. His happy little dance when I say the word, "cookie." The way he tucks his needle nose between my knees so I can scratch that spot between his ears.

I tried to imagine a life without Elvis and couldn't.

Our walk over, I brought him home. Held him. And cried.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who Needs Reindeer?

Who needs those reindeer slackers when Santa Paws has ex-racer greyhounds that clock in at 45 miles per hour?

Season's Greetings,

Love, Eileen, Elvis and Olivia

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Decision to Live With

I always thought that when the dreaded time came to say goodbye to Elvis, I'd let my sweet greyhound go peacefully. Gracefully.

I would recognize how lucky I was to share all those wonderful years with this special dog, kiss my beautiful boy on his needle nose, and hold him tight as he embarked on a new journey. One that would entail racing off to join my mother who, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, will be eagerly awaiting his arrival on the other side with arms outstretched. Anxious to once again embrace her beloved "grandpuppy."

But I now realize that what I think I'm going to do and what I'm actually capable of doing are two entirely different things.

I can't let Elvis go. Not yet. Not without a fight.

Not while he's still the happy, affectionate dog he's always been: eager for walks, anxious to eat and ready to play. That's why I've decided that so long as his quality of life isn't compromised, I will do whatever it takes and whatever it costs to fight his cancer and extend his life.

I can't live with myself if I don't try.

This is why I've scheduled Elvis for his first chemo session on Tuesday. If he tolerates it with no ill side effects, he'll have four more sessions, spaced three weeks apart. This treatment could buy him several months of quality time. Every new day I get with Elvis with be a precious gift, accompanied with the knowledge that I'm doing the very best that I can for my boy.

And at the end of the day, I can live with that.
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