I cannot tell you how many times I step in to console someone who has lost a pet and who feels they didn’t do enough. Didn’t see the signs. Didn’t make the right choices. And every time they ask me, why are you not second guessing everything about Melvin and Jake? My answer is the same no matter who asks…
…because I’m only human. I did the best I could. So did you.
I lost two dogs to cancer. They were diagnosed less than one year apart.
I cannot say with absolute certainty that I did every thing I could do for them both so that they didn’t get cancer. They both had really great care. The best food, excellent veterinary care and options. Whatever they needed, they got. If love alone could have protected them from cancer, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
I didn’t expose them to known radiation. I didn’t treat the lawn with poisonous chemicals. I didn’t let them drink from an unknown water source. I also didn’t wake up on any single day of their life and say, today I am going to be sure they are not exposed to carcinogens.
They were both rescues. I got one at three and one at five. The three year old lived to be ten and the five year old lived to be eight. They were both purebreds, a lab and a French Bulldog. They had regular vaccinations. During summer months, I did flea and tick treatments on both. They were both on medications for other health issues. If you want to know if I think any of the things in this paragraph led to them having cancer, I will say with absolute certainty that, I don’t know.
Traveling down the road of did I do something to contribute to their cancer, did I not do something that led to it…those paths, lead to nowhere for me. I love Melvin and Jake more than I love myself. I woke up everyday with one goal, to love them better than I did the day before.
I could not control the cancer. I could only control the love.
It was out of my hands that two different cancers found two different boys in one household. I could not control that Melvin had no treatment options or that Jake’s option didn’t work. I could not control that Melvin had 40 days or that Jake had five months. I could not control that both situations, broke me.
I will always wish that they lived longer, but time was never a guarantee. I am learning to celebrate that they were here.
There were a few brief moments during Jake’s cancer where the thought of his last year picked at me a little. His last year, was undeniably his worst year. I did all that I could to make it bearable. We’d lost Melvin and we were not the best versions of ourselves. He got health knockdown after knockdown and then just when we were turning a corner and getting back up, we got his cancer diagnosis. When thoughts of doubt about his last year try to creep into my mind, I stop what I am doing and say no. No! I stand convicted that we did the best we could. Both of us, he and I, even during the hardest of days, we did our best because every day, there was love.
For us, cancer is a chapter, cancer is not the story.
We have to be kinder to ourselves during loss. There are so many incredible parents who lose a pet and then turn on themselves and suggest they didn’t do enough. They missed a sign. They second guess it all. At the beginning and end of every day, we are human. We don’t have magic eyes that see cancer when it starts to form (if only!). There is not a manual called: “Do exactly this when your pet gets cancer”. Instead, we do the best we can with all the love in our hearts.
You did enough. You were guided by love. You did the parts that you could do, beautifully.
I would OBVIOUSLY much rather cancer not exist. I would much rather Melvin and Jake were both at my feet right now. I loved them unconditionally before cancer. I loved them beautifully during cancer. I loved them enough to let them go and my life’s purpose is to be sure that their love lives on, forever. Part of that is donating to cancer research in their memory, so that one day, maybe we can control cancer.
Jake’s name has been added to our project joy. #loveliveson