The plan.

Jake’s treatment plan has been outlined and scheduled. Sometimes when things like cancer come up, you have plans with the oncologist and you have plans with the vet(s) and you have concerns that need addressing and you have to act as the liaison between everyone and be sure that it’s not just about each doctor’s responsibility, it’s also got to be what’s best for Jake overall.

For instance, this week I am having a consult with a vet nutritionist in CT. My goals are to be sure that Jake’s nutrition is right during radiation, right after treatment and right for all his other issues. Right?!

Next week, Jake will have three intensive days of radiation.  He’ll have to be anesthetized each day. Three days of treatment, and then, we’re done. Side effects, if he were to have any, would occur 7-10 days after treatment.  The side effects, which should be minor, are the only non-joy things I’m wiling to proactively take on. If a few days of discomfort give us six months, I’ll take it. If it was going to be months of pain or discomfort, that is not road I’d take us down.

I cancelled our upcoming behaviorist appointment. He can be as horrible as he wants! The behaviorist agreed.

I’m handling Jake’s cancer very…tactically.  It’s not at all how I handled Melvin’s cancer. There is no guide (is there?). My goal is to remain upright. I don’t think about him having cancer 24/7.  In fact, wile I think about it more right now due to all the appointments we have scheduled, I’m hoping/thinking that we will have some time where cancer is just a thing, not THE thing. Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m guided by love so it will be ok.

These days are emotionally complicated for so many reasons. Jake has cancer. The cure for his cancer is removing it which is not an option for us. I’m being reminded by Facebook about  where we were with Melvin last year. The year anniversary of losing him is coming up. I’m trying to live in he moment — which is hard when during this month I do want to look back and honor Melvin and I want to look forward past the radiation to how I can give Jake joy. There is one thing that is exactly the same between last year and this year — nights are hard. I cry. I worry. I try to have the next day planned out so I can wake up and go.

Our new reality and the timing of it, makes me miss Melvin even more.

This weekend, Jake did something and it made me laugh and for no reason my eyes filled up with tears and I was still laughing but I was also crying and well, who hasn’t been there. But then my phone lit up, a post popped up in my memory update…the one about Jake knowing Melvin had cancer before me (click here). And just like that, it made me remember that we were meant to be.  No matter what comes our way, we stand by each other. Laughing or crying, just show up.

Many have suggested that we do a bucket list.  I love to read about humans who do bucket lists for their dogs!  The problem is, Jake does not enjoy adventure. Like not at all. Jake hates change. If I switch up the door we walk out of, he hyperventilates. He does not enjoy going to new places (although he does enjoy being in the car). The only thing Jake would put on his bucket list is if I could take him to a field where he could hunt (and catch!) squirrels and bunnies and frogs. (I’m working on this one). And we are planning on going back to the beach this summer too!

Here is the little chicken, being adorable…

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March on.

One year ago today, the day after Melvin’s birthday, I took Melvin for a ultrasound at a specialist and heard the words ‘I have terrible news, I’m so sorry’ followed by, ‘…probably only days’, when I asked how long he had.

The days that followed were the some of the most impossible moments I have known. Those weeks when the prognosis was ‘any moment’, I was grasping at time, and love and air… I never knew how dark the night could be. I spun, out of control. I was afraid to leave him. I tried so hard to hold onto him and love him.

The knowledge of pending death is confusing and overwhelming and terrible and sad and you are forced into mourning, before the death even occurs.  One year ago, we weren’t given good news, much time, or any treatment options. But we were given love. So much joyful love. And that love is everything and trumps anything and everything we weren’t given. Seriously people, there are no guarantees.  We suggest love. Love is a solid plan.  Seek love, give love, love love.  Create reasons for others to love, high five love, shower in love. Let love own you and guide you and let it light up all the darkness.

Love can get help you through. Love can heal you. Love lives on.

Melvin was diagnosed a year ago – Jake was diagnosed 19 days ago. 8,328 hours separate the words ‘he has cancer’ between them.  Brothers in life. Brothers in death. Brothers in cancer.  These two have an odd sense of timing and really take their bond to the extreme!

Thankfully, last March does not define all the others. It does not represent this March.  Even though we are embarking on a cancer journey at the same time this year, we have opportunities we did not have last year.  Last March is over.  This March has just begun.

“Hey, psssst, lets get cancer one year apart.” “Ok, sounds fun!”IMG_9840

Happy Birthday, angel!

Today would have been Melvin’s 11th birthday.  I am infinitely happy that he was born, that he proved to be too much for his first family and that he ended up on small lab rescue site that I happened to stumble upon.

Aside from the one-year anniversary of losing him (coming up in April), this birthday, is our last ‘first’ without him. In fact, we found out about his cancer the day after his birthday last year. I sorta like that his birthday is our last hurdle of all the firsts, because there are very few things in life I am more profoundly joyful about than the fact that he was born. Today, we celebrate that he was here, that he was ours!

Melvin, Jake and I miss you every minute of everyday, but we also feel your love and guidance.  You are with us, we know it.  A beautiful part of our soul and happiness and joy. Happy Birthday my sweet, angel!  You and I (and Jake) were written in the stars. We love you, forever!

Today, in honor of Melvin, please go hug a senior (dog or human).  But of course, ask first!

And here are my past birthday letters to Melvin (since starting the blog)

7th Birthday

8th Birthday

9th Birthday (this one may be my favorite)

10th Birthday (even if I had known what was coming the next day, this is still the letter I would have written).