Jesus, Light, the friends

Heartbroken, Hopeful & Grateful

They say a blogger shouldn’t go more than a week without posting.

This blogger went more than two weeks.

Forgive me.

Malaise.

Even though my shingles rash was small and only mildly itchy, even though it never blistered and it held no pain, it left me tired. Too tired to force the thoughts that were bouncing around my brain to coalesce – thoughts on politics, thoughts on the third chapter of John and a snake lifted high. Too tired to even read your posts.

Cancer.

Just as my energy and my brain returned, my little beagle coughed up blood. Blood and a hunk of tissue.

I threw the blanket onto which she coughed into the washer, put the hunk of tissue in a small container and put the beagle in the car.

The emergency animal hospital did a chest x-ray and saw a mass in her chest – in the caudal area behind her sweet little heart. I authorized an abdominal ultrasound. The tissue was sent off to a lab.

Two days later we were back at the hospital, this time in the oncology department for a CT scan. To determine whether the mass could be surgically removed.

It can’t.

The location of the mass, which is growing out of her lung into the space behind her heart, makes surgery too risky.

In the one week since she coughed, she’s been diagnosed, she’s had an acupuncture treatment and she has been started on Chinese Herbal Medicine, supplements to strengthen her immune system and an antibiotic for a lung infection.

Thoughts of politics and snakes on poles have been replaced with thoughts of cancer and grief. All my mental energy has been focused on decisions re: treatment options, measuring out doses and making sure she gets a walk every day to stimulate her immune system. But not too long a walk….

Today in church God spoke to me as we sang:

All the weak find their strength
At the sound of Your great Name
Hungry souls receive grace
At the sound of Your great Name
The fatherless they find their rest
At the sound of Your great Name
Sick are healed and the dead are raised
At the sound of Your great Name

I’ve been praying every day for my little friend, but I haven’t been praying over her. I haven’t been speaking His great Name to her. Now I will.

Not a single sparrow falls to the ground outside my Father’s care.

Jesus said so.

The great Name said so.

Likewise not a single beagle gets lung cancer outside His care.

He cared for her for however long she was alone on the streets, lost or abandoned.

He cared for her when some cruel monster riddled her cheerful little body with BBs.

He rescued her and He placed her in our home – with her 2 rotten teeth, swollen spleen, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease – to get her the surgery and medicine she needed. To envelop her in a family’s love. To strengthen her with home-cooked meals.

He cared for her then and He still cares for her now.

I am heartbroken, hopeful and grateful.

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Determined and watchful.

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Curious and intelligent.

 

#trust

#flickerofhope

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36 thoughts on “Heartbroken, Hopeful & Grateful

  1. That’s so sad, I hope your little friend feels comfortable until it’s time. My dog underwent chemo for months and coped well on it. When she started having bad side affects we did the kind thing. She had good few months and we gave her lots of love. Thinking of you all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I’m so sorry for your loss. The doctor guesses my friend has 1-2 months.
      May I ask whether your dog’s bad side effects were from the chemo? And what they were?
      Our plan is to start chemo after she finishes her course of antibiotics but I am having second thoughts since the chemo won’t cure her and might not even make a difference. I’d rather not put her through bad side effects.
      Since she’s been on the antibiotics, she’s been her happy, lively self – except for the cough. Would love to keep her that way for as long as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was a long time ago when I still lived with my parents. She attended the vetinery hospital at Glasgow university and she was back to her old self for around 6 months. She then needed more of a dose and was physically sick. We put her to sleep that day as like you, we never wanted her to be in any pain. It was cancer of the lymph nodes though. I know in humans, lung cancer can be quicker although they can never really know. Ours was only 7, a young dog really. We always were glad she had a great life, was loved and wasn’t in pain. That’s the main thing. My dad was heartbroken for a long time. They really are part of the family 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • theancients says:

        Beautiful fellow. In the meantime don’t forget to curse that cancer daily (even several times per day) and tell it to leave its precious body.
        (Good thing you have “comment without fear ” as I know most do not believe as I do.)
        Love that you’ve also chosen to remember His previous benefits. What we choose to focus on- though not easy- makes a difference.

        Keeping you both in prayer.
        Be healed and be restored in the Name above all cancers and all that ails us: in the name of Christ Jesus.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you ancients for your prayers and for the reminder to keep my focus positive. Instead of cursing the cancer several times a day, I’m praising God’s love, compassion, kindness and sovereignty over it. And I’m singing:
          “Jesus loves the little beagles,
          all the beagles of the world,
          soft and sweet, black, brown and white,
          they are precious in His sight,
          Jesus loves the little beagles of the world.”
          She likes it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • theancients says:

            : that’s beautiful – you singing that song to her. no doubt she likes it, even I can feel the tremendous love and commitment from here.
            the very best.

            Like

  2. I’m so sorry for this storm of grief you’re in, Julie. These furry creatures worm their way into our hearts and it’s sad to watch them suffer. I hope things get better for you soon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Elihu. They certainly do work their way into our hearts. My heart was absolutely crushed when my little Lucybee died 3 years ago. Six weeks later we took in this sweet little girl.

      Thoreau wrote, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” Maybe, but I’m not sure my heart can take any more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Julie, just curious when the tissue sample results will be back and if a biopsy will be performed? I’ve been through this too (not just as a vet but with my own animal). I had a German Shepherd who had lung cancer (he was diagnosed when I was a sophomore in college). Actually HE had mammary adenocarcinoma which metastasized to his lungs (my family was told this was very rare for a male dog). Unfortunately, he had a very poor prognosis and was pretty far advanced at the time of his diagnosis. My family opted for euthanasia a short time later as his breathing became very labored. It about broke my heart but at the same time I felt I was making a humane decision and alleviating his suffering. This was in 1979 and veterinary medicine has come a long way since then).

        It’s a tough decision and I’m not even sure what I would do as far as chemo– for me I guess that would depend on the type of cancer and the odds of it responding to the chemotherapy and what the veterinary oncologist feels her quality of life would be with the chemo, i.e., what is her prognosis with the chemo versus without the chemo? There are so many different types of cancer and different types of chemotherapy, some with worse side effects than others.

        It sounds like she is in good hands and getting good care. Deciding to put a dog through chemo is SUCH a personal decision as is the decision for euthanasia. Hopefully, you can work closely with your veterinarian/veterinary oncologist and receive good guidance in making the decisions that will be RIGHT FOR YOUR DOG. It is SO easy for people who don’t know your dog or aren’t bonded with her (or for that matter who don’t even like animals all that much) to sit back and say, “oh you should euthanize her because she is suffering.” They aren’t with her, you are. They don’t know her, you do. Again, it’s a personal decision and one you should never make just on the advice of others. I had a cat who lived to be 19 1/2. When he turned 18, I was told by 2 “well-meaning” friends that I should put him to sleep just because “he was old!” It made my blood boil!!!! My cat was healthy, was eating and drinking, and jumping and playing. He developed mandibular bone cancer a year and half later and I knew when the time had come to end his suffering. It was THE hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. He was like a son to me.

        So sorry I have written a book. Will say a prayer for you and your beagle baby tonight.

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        • Thank you Gail. I received the report on the coughed up tissue via e-mail Friday:

          A biopsy on the actual mass will not be performed because it is so deep that it cannot be safely accessed even to do a needle biopsy. In order to remove the mass, or a portion of it, her sternum would have to be broken. And it is so close to her heart that any blood vessels that are cut would just keep bleeding. And then there is the high potential of damage to the vagus nerve if they try to cut the tumor away. So, no surgery, no biopsy.

          I agree with you about your cat and about not being quick to euthanize. I believe I will know when the time is right. I am praying, though, that it won’t come to that. I’m praying that she will just go naturally – quietly and peacefully and gently while she’s sleeping on the sofa next to me, my husband and daughter and I watching a movie, our other dag, Max, sleeping on his bed nearby. She loves it when we are all together in the same room.

          I am also praying that she does miraculously well in spite of the tumor and that she lives another five years – dying when she’s “old and full of years.”

          I want to latch onto that last line of the biopsy report: “Less likely differential includes benign adenoma.” I googled lung cancer in dogs, though, and without a biopsy to be sure, one clue as to whether it is malignant or benign is the pace of growth. There was no sign of the mass when she had an unrelated x-ray in May 2015, so I’m guessing it is growing at a fairly rapid rate. The CT report said it has infiltrated most of her right lobe, has moved into her lymph nodes and, as I said before is growing into the space behind her heart. The doc said the problems she will encounter as the tumor grows will be due to the tumor crowding her heart, rather than due to her lungs.

          I hate that. Oh I hate that.

          Right now she is doing great. I took her to my regular vet in mid September because she was sleeping a lot and then she started peeing on the floor as soon as she would wake up. It’s not like her to have accidents. She was also coughing a little bit, but she is often congested this time of year so I chalked that up to allergies. Turns out she had a bladder infection. The vet put her on Zeniquin for 14 days. The coughing and accidents stopped the next day and she was back to being her happy, awake self.

          Five days post-zeniquin she started coughing again. That’s when she coughed up the blood. The emergency room vet put her on a 14 day course of Clavamox, which she is still on. The coughing has stopped again and she is acting like herself. The internal medicine vet who did the ultrasound said there were three small pockets of fluid within the tumor. I’m wondering whether they are/were pockets of infection. She does so much better on an antibiotic that I’m wondering whether her symptoms were all due to the infection rather than the tumor itself. Anyway, forgive me if this is too much information. I shared all that to say that euthanasia is unthinkable right now with her doing so well. It is tempting to believe that she is going to be fine. That the supplements and the herbal blends will be enough to keep this thing at bay.

          The chart the oncologist gave me says when the lymph nodes are involved the average time left is 1-2 months. But, she really has no idea how long she’ll live. That’s what makes the decision re: chemo so difficult. It doesn’t sound like it will buy her much time, though, and I hate the idea of it killing healthy cells along with the cancer cells and potentially harming her kidneys and liver. If we do go ahead with the chemo, it will be a low dose of Leukeran.

          I read on the website of a university veterinary program that sometimes the tumor will grow in such a way that it pinches off its own blood supply. God can do that. God can do all kinds of things that don’t require chemo. He can just say the word…

          Thank you for taking the time to “write a book” and for sharing your experiences and for your kind prayer. Prayer is the best treatment option. Ultimately, it’s all up to God. And God is good.

          I am so sorry for your loss. I deeply understand your cat being like a son to you.

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          • Yes, you are so right when you say it is all up to God. He CAN do anything!!!

            I would think the chances of an infection causing or contributing to her symptoms would be pretty high since there was mention of necrosis in the biopsy and she seems to improve on antibiotics. Regardless, I’m glad she is doing better and hope she continues to do so!

            I, like you, also hope it won’t have to come to euthanasia. I also prayed that my cat would die peacefully in his sleep as I did with my 16 year old dog. But it just never seems to happen that way with my animals and I’m always faced with the dreaded euthanasia decision. And I hate that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • When I lost my little Lucybee (a beagle mix) 3 years ago it all happened very fast. We were out on a walk after dinner and my husband said, “Look, she’s smiling.” She wasn’t smiling, she was grimacing and walking gingerly. I ran home and got the car. We took her to emergency and left her while they did tests, her vitals were not good. The emergency doc called at 11 pm with the news that her spleen had ruptured. “Save her!” I pleaded, “Do whatever it takes.” She came home a few days later minus her spleen. The doc sent it for a biopsy. The good news was that he saw no lesions on her liver. She was recovering amazingly well when he called with the horrible news: hemangiosarcoma. I made an appointment with the oncologist even though her prognosis was poor. Then I sat on the steps to my basement and cried. “Please, Lord, if she is going to die then take her quickly and gently before she is in any pain.” The next morning she threw up her breakfast. Ordinarily she was pressed up against me at all times but that morning she wouldn’t let me sit next to her – she kept moving away from me. I had heard beagles go off to die alone so they won’t endanger the rest of the pack. That’s what it seemed like she was doing. I went upstairs to get dressed and when I came back she was laying on the kitchen floor, blood by her nose. I called my husband home from work and then I called the hospital saying I thought she was dying. They told me to bring her in, said it might not be that bad. They sent me home while they did their diagnostics. The doc on duty called and said to come quickly. They would keep her warm and alive until we could get there but she wasn’t going to live. She had a large blood clot in one of the arteries that supplies blood to the stomach. Apparently blood clots are a complication of hemangiosarcoma (and probably her recent surgery). We stood beside her and stroked her extraordinarily soft head and told her what a good girl she was. The doc administered anesthesia and she drifted peacefully off to sleep before getting the euthanasia drug. A minute later the doc listened to her heart and said she was gone. She commented that she had never seen a dog go so peacefully. Thank you Jesus. It was so sad, I’m crying now as I tell you. My husband and I left the hospital…alone… and clung to each other in sobs in the parking lot. I’m thankful that even though it was a very traumatic day, in the end she went very peacefully, with us at her side, and I am thankful that there was no decision to make.

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              • Oh Julie, what an incredibly sad story but I was so touched by the love you obviously had for your sweet dog. I, too, am glad she went so peacefully in the end with her loving owners by her side.

                Liked by 1 person

                • My husband and I decided against the chemo. You helped us make that decision. I figured if you – a vet – aren’t sure you would do it, then it isn’t the obvious choice. She seems to be doing really well right now on the TCM and the supplements so we are going to stick with them and trust God with the rest. Thank you for listening and for your kind comments.

                  Liked by 1 person

    • She isn’t suffering. She’s doing well right now. The doc said lung cancer doesn’t cause pain in dogs. She’ll get more and more tired. Eventually she’ll have trouble breathing. When she gets to that point, we will help her. For now she is still enjoying life, walks and good home-cooking.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. SWMBO and I know from our own past experience how you must feel. Wee know you have your pet’s best interests in the forefront of your mind. On the positive side, your delightful Beagle is in a loving home and will enjoy her remaining time with you as if nothing has changed. That is the way it should be.

    Thanks for sharing your sadness with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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