I Sit in the Sun and Cry

Missy has shared her life with me for ten years. One of the first rescues from Hudson’s Halfway Home, she was a discarded puppy mill breeder thought to be a year old. It took popcorn to win her over … a story for another time.

She is one of my shadows, sharing my chair when I watch football games, curling at my feet when I sleep. And she’s fiercely protective of me, the two veterinarians I recently visited pointed out.

And her cancer has returned. In November of 2021, she had aggressive surgery, and it kept it at bay until August. I’ve consulted with a couple of vets who don’t think another surgery would be successful. It’s in a bad spot and is grade 3. I’ve said no to chemo and radiation for a variety of reasons. Now we consider two alternatives …. Paladia (a non-chemo drug that sure has a chemo-feel) and Stelfonta, a one-shot injection into the tumor, which might work, but has potential for side effects.

I’ve spent hours talking to the vets, reading about the drug therapies from clients and the manufacturers, trying my best to absorb the case studies, and traipsing through blogs posted by DVMs across the country. These are normally hours I would spend working on my novel. And while Piper Blackwell is pulled up on my computer screen, she fades to the background as I find one more study to look through. Can’t concentrate on Piper with Missy sitting between my feet.

I love dogs, perfect creatures. I measure my life in dog years … the dogs who share the years with me. People have asked me why I am fretting so over Missy when I have three others. I fret because I love dogs, because she is family, and I am responsible to her and for her. I would give every penny I have if there was a good fix for her malady.

Missy doesn’t know she’s sick. She runs, plays, jumps in the kiddie pool. She stretches out in the sun, and she munches on strands of tall grass. If I asked her what she wanted to do about her situation, she’d tell me to toss the tennis ball so she could chase it.

She’s eleven years old and not likely to see the “fourteen years that nature permits” no matter what I decide. I’ve given myself until the end of the day Monday to pick an option: Paladia (I’m leaning away from this one), Stelfonta (jury’s still out), a second surgery (which won’t get it all, but which should buy more time), or doing nothing and letting her live her best life for whatever is left.

So, for the next few days I’ll keep reading articles about the therapies, likely ignoring Piper Blackwell, and sitting on a bench in the sun on my patio. It’s next to the kiddie pool and a container of tennis balls. All of my dogs love summer and the sun. While they splash in the pool and chase the butterflies, I sit on my bench, feel the sun on my face, and cry.

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