On Finding Out That My Dog Has Cancer

  • The vet decided I was the sort of person who could cope with seeing a photo of my dogs insides.  He explained about the little white lines on the intestines which show lymph collecting where it shouldn’t ought to be. ‘What’s that?’ I said pointing at the large mass of pink red and purple flesh just below where the gloved hand was holding her guts up to the camera. ‘That’s the tumour’  Oooooffff it is bigger than a large mans hand!
  • On the first two days I cried a lot. I don’t mean I sat and sobbed on the sofa but waiting in a queue at the bakers my eyes filled up and welled over, telling a friend the news I felt my words wobble before my shoulders followed suit, I cycled through town with my face soaking with tears.  Then it stopped. Where do they go those tears?  At the vet for a checkup after the surgery there was a woman sobbing without shame.  She was flanked by two sad looking men who occasionally patted her knee, setting off another bout of wails.  The day my crying stopped I started yet another cold with streaming nose and violent sneezing.
  • The first day my partner kept complaining of feeling cold. He was wrapped in a thick coat but his hands were icy. I asked over and over again ‘How are you?’ and was disappointed that he seemed so emotionally distant. It was the next day before I realised it was shock – he had frozen and I had forgotten about arnica.
  • This says something about my life here in this house:- I was grateful when the Resident Adolescent (now strictly speaking a Resident Teenager) stopped in the hallway to ask ‘How is Bonnie?’  This must be the first real conversation we have had in over a year. And it only lasted for three sentences. 
  • After surgery dogs sometimes get constipated. Internet searches recommend mashed pumpkin. Unfortunately pumpkin is also high in carbohydrates and carbohydrates feed the cancer.  I worry a lot about food. Why not continue to give her raw meaty bones?  So I do. Then I worry that she can’t digest it.  So I boil it up and have to painstakingly remove the meat by hand.  Rice? Vegetables?  She needs fibre but I don’t want that mass to get food. That photo of her insides haunts me a little.
  • Day four and we walk a bit further in search of a bowel movement. She is peeing a lot – is it the Kidneys?– she stops and sniffs around raising my hopes but no, she pees again.  It reminds me of the quest for an orgasm “Don’t be goal oriented, just enjoy the moment”   We walk, meet other dogs, birds fly over, the strong wind blows little sandstorms into our faces, then she starts to sniff the ground and circle around a special patch of grass. “Is this it?  Come on darling, just relax.’ No she just pees again.
  • I was happy that she started eating so well after the surgery then I told the vet and he said, ‘the cancer needs to be fed – it will make her hungry’.  That thought doesn’t help me when I am planning what to put in her bowl.  I need to find a new way of dealing with my thoughts.
  • When she dies – if it is in weeks or months or even years from now – I will miss her face, the feel of her fur, the way she brightens up at the sight of a ball, the ease of her company, her muzzle pressed into my hand, her silent almost invisible presence at my heels when we walk. So now and every day I want to really enjoy her, in this moment, fully present not in a worrying anxious over-protective way, but just being with her 100%.

I have no idea how many people read this blog. And I don’t know who you are.  I am lucky if I get one comment after each post and so have decided to turn this apparent failure into something positive and to free myself to write what I want.  I don’t know what you want to read but I am very clear about what I want to write so starting now, here is what matters to me.

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9 thoughts on “On Finding Out That My Dog Has Cancer

  1. Here’s one comment anyway, on a rainy windy Saturday. I am sorry to hear about Bonnie being so sick, though glad that she seems to be enjoying her outings and her food. It is nice to that she cannot know and cannot worry about it, she is simply enjoying what she has every day.

    Hugs to you both, and hope she poops soon!

    O Xxxx

  2. I have just found your blog – and this one post leads me to want to know more. My own Golden Retriever had tumours in the last year of his life and it was so awful for us humans, but as the previous person said, your lovely Bonnie doesn’t know. All she will know is that YOU are concerned and worried, and she will want to comfort you. Enjoy his precious time with her and vent all you like – there are many of us out here who truly understand – loved your comment about the teenager – you have an amazing turn of phrase, a talent! You are not alone Mary Jenkins

  3. Oh, Kate. I am late coming here but only by a day. I had no idea you were going through this with your beloved dog. Oh, so sad. xoxo

    ps – you write what you want. this space is for you and not for anyone else.

  4. It’s so difficult for you just now and I think when you’re not sure what to do with food or whatever, love is the answer. That is what Bonnie needs and is getting. My old cat Snoet lost his appetite in the last few days of his life and I gave him all sorts of tasty morsels, which he ate small quantities of, probably to do me a favour more than anything.

    And it affects the whole house of course. Pep sees you in pain and scared and most likely doesn’t know how best to help you. He loves Bonnie too. Conversation with RT is something, who knows this may lead to 5 or 6 sentences!

    This blog is not a failure by the way. I thoroughly enjoy what you write and am sometimes behind with the posts, but I don’t always feel I have something meaningful to say or think a short response is not ‘good enough’. I hardly ever leave a comment for Niall Doherty either, but I enjoy his stuff too. Maybe just ‘Read and enjoyed’ would be enough? I have always admired your writing skills (and Caroline’s, I regularly felt my own scribbles were pretty boring in comparison). I suspect it’s the same for other readers – we have the luxury of just reading.

    Hugs and hugs from me to you, Bonnie and Pep (and if you feel like it say hi to the boy wonder)
    Christine xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. Thank you all for these kind words. All comments are thoroughly enjoyed….one word or one hundred! Food is so often an issue when there is illness and it is true that love is the most important thing….i dont want to get into battles.
    Getting ready to write again today….so much every day.

    if you are reading this and don’t want to write a comment…that is ok too…..thank you for connecting K x

  6. Love and hugs to you, sweet Bonnie, and Pep. Thinking of you all, Kate! One day at a time….try not to worry too much about feeding the tumour, there needs to be a little balance, a and B will need a little amount of carbs to keep her enery up. hope you got my email. Diana xx

  7. I agree with Walter and me. Bonnie only has the here and now. Tomorrow doesn’t exist. I would feed her anything she wants (that won’t actively make her sick). If the pumpkin will relieve her constipation, do it. You don’t REALLY know how it will or will not affect the tumor. Give her a happy owner for the rest of her days, however many they may be, and keep her as comfortable as possible. That’s the best any of us can do.

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