Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Cancer Roller Coaster

I haven't written about Benny, our 12 year old golden retriever, for quite some time. Progressing through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent medical care is quite an emotional roller coaster, a road far too many of us know far too well. The highs can be near heavenly as good news must certainly be reveled in. And the lows ... well, they can be all too wrenching.

In January, we received great and sad news:  Benny was officially designated in clinical remission for the oral melanoma diagnosed back in December 2010 ... yea! Nearly in the same breath, a tumor was discovered on his left shoulder. We thought it likely a metastasis of the melanoma but no ... it turned out to be an unrelated cancer ... hemangiosarcoma.

Harry and I constantly endeavor to make decisions we hope are wise and that emphasize quality of life over longevity. With mixed feelings, we have proceeded with IV chemotherapy for Benny in hopes of slowing down tumor growth. The first treatment was somewhat rough for Benny (intestinal distress ... enough said about that) ... but the second treatment has gone far better as the oncologists at Oregon State sent us home armed with two anti-nausea meds and an antibiotic targeted for the gastrointestinal system.

Benny, affectionately called their "miracle golden" by the oncologists at OSU, is tired for several days after each chemo treatment, but so far has bounced back within a week, as you can see from this photo of Benny and Frankie in the snow:

Benny (left) and Frankie

Growing up in Tennessee, snow typically meant surprise play days of no school. So long as I don't have to drive, I still feel euphoric when those big, beautiful flakes fall!

Frankie ... throw the next snowball!
Frankie ... rolling, rolling, rolling!

Benny loves the snow too, but not quite so much as Frankie who is utterly mad for it. The shaved patch on Benny's shoulder is from a biopsy surgery. The oncologists had hoped to remove the HAS tumor but it was already too involved in the shoulder joint, thus inoperable, hence the chemo approach. 

Handsome Benny

 ... and speaking of handsome boys, here is a picture of Z, our strictly indoors-only kitty who far prefers to view the snow (or rain, birds, squirrels etc) from his scratching post. He is 2 years old now and has shown absolutely no interest in going outside. He does have rather beautiful blue eyes, doesn't he?

Z admiring the snow from his cozy, indoor scratching post

Z hasn't quite forgiven us for bringing an uncouth, uncivilized, overly enthusiastic golden retriever puppy into our lives. Alas and finally, Z has given up all hope that Nickel is visiting ... almost a year later, Z reluctantly tolerates Nickel who simply doesn't understand how to respect a kitty properly. Will he ever learn?

It turns out, Nickel, like Frankie, is utterly mad for the snow. On this particular snow day, however, Nickel was playing with his pals at doggy day care. He simply has more energy than all the rest of his household members combined ... and we all love Nickel so much more when he is, well ... tired!

Nickel (3 months old) sleeping on step
Nickel (1 year) sleeping on same step

I will post some photos of quilts I am working on soon ... hope you are all well and happy!

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