Today, I found out that my dog basically has cancer. I kind of knew this was going to be the case, because when things like a hard lump that kind of grew out of nowhere are in play, the conclusion seems kind of forgone, but it doesn’t make it suck any less when the vet tells you it’s a tumor, and the real question really being just how bad of a cancer we’re dealing with here.
It’s funny, because I had the new vet at my clinic, the one with the least tenure there, which explains why she has the Saturday afternoon shift, but I was just glad that I was able to take my dog in at all today to get checked out in the first place. But she’s pretty young, I imagine she doesn’t have the experience as some of the other doctors at the clinic do, so when she’s explaining things to me, she’s using a lot of technical and medical terminology, and seemingly avoiding use of the dreaded C-word.
It isn’t until I explain to her that a lot of the terminology is going over my head, and I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly deliberate avoidance of using the word “cancer,” and that I would really appreciate a little more dumbed down explanation of what’s going on. The tech leaves the room at this point for some reason, and the doc is a little more clearer with the explanation, and I feel like I have a little more understanding of the situation to where I can at least brog about it.
The lump is definitely a tumor, but the clinic doesn’t have the on-site resources to do anything beyond a cursory examination, and sending out slides is really the only way we’re all going to get some more accurate clarity to what we’re dealing with. Given the circumstances of how it appeared to have appeared and grown fairly rapidly over the span of the last two months, things don’t appear to be very optimistic, but again, never going to know until we get some more concrete evidence.
It doesn’t help the fact that my boy is anywhere from 15-17 years old, which is well at or past life expectancy for his general breed, and the fact that he also has a grade-4 heart murmur. Adding cancer on top of it is like a fucked up cherry on top, but him being the goodest boy on the face of the planet, is still acting fairly normal, his behavior and temperament are still his usual cheerful self, and he’s eating, drinking, pooping and peeing as a normal dog would. Even the girl doing clean-up in the lobby was astounded to hear that he’s (estimated) 16 years old.
But that’s where we’re at right now. My good boy is not doing well, in spite of the pep he continues to exhibit. Regardless of what the full diagnosis is going to be, the options are not many, nor are they even likely to work, if they’re even possible at all. At his age, it’s not lost on me that we’re definitely in the final act of his expected lifespan, but it never doesn’t suck for pet owners to come to grips with the mortality of their companions, and all I can really think about are all the things I feel guilty to him about not being a better owner; like an asshole, thinking about myself, when he’s the one dealing with fucking cancer, and no-selling it like Hercules vs. Sid because he’s the best dog there is and he’s showing way more strength than I am, and doesn’t even realize it.
But he’s not gone yet, and hopefully my life can get its shit together enough to make the even more likely limited time I have with him somewhat better and rewarding. Two years ago, I had concerns on whether or not he’d last long enough to get a picture with my first daughter with a shirt that had a dog that looked a lot like him on it. Not only did we get a good picture, there’s now second daughter in the equation, and here’s hoping that we can repeat that history with her.