As a veterinarian, you are faced (way too often) with the sad position of telling your client that their dog or cat has cancer. It is a feeling that never gets better or easier. It weighs heavily on our hearts and minds.
I will never forget the day that one of my favorite patients came in and his guardians said he was having trouble swallowing. One look at his happy, Labrador, face and a quick feel of his lymph nodes and I had to tell them that their pup was affected by this life-altering disease.
Cancer is smart, cancer is agile, and cancer does not discrimiate.
Sadly, Brian and I learned that it does not discrimiinate the hard way.
Our Chewy had two soft tissue sarcomas in the last three years of his life that we were able to remove surgically and with good margins. Thankfully, we were able to pay for those surgeries ourselves, but we would've been crushed to know that there were more options available medically or surgically, if we couldn't make it work financially.
He was a superstar after both of these surgeries and recovered beautifully. And then last summer, we brought him to our veterinary surgeon because he had a strange bout of lameness and swelling of his face and front legs. The surgeon took x-rays of his front legs and in doing so, saw a small portion of his chest in the film. What he saw led him to do a full chest radiograph and showed us all that he had a suspected tumor in his chest.
We grappled with the decision of how to proceed and we tried our best to listen to what our sweet boy was telling us. Asking him if he wanted to fight this too...
Ultimately, we decided as a family that it was too much. He had too many other medical issues, was struggling with mobility, and seemed to be systemically affected by the mass in his chest.
We lost Chewy about 2 months later. He never faltered. He never complained. He was the strongest little soul I've ever known.
Tonight is a big night for BCCB Pet. We are attending the 10th annual Pets on Parade gala to benefit FETCH a Cure.
FETCH a Cure is an organization that helps families with pets that have cancer. They help with education, support, and also with funding for families that can't bear the full burden of cancer therapies financially.
Last night, I couldn't sleep. I woke up at 3 in the morning crying. And I just realized why. This will be the first year attending this event without our sweet Chewy waiting for us to come home afterward.
In years past, we would go and donate and be so happy to help other people with pets with cancer, but we would be comforted by the fact that our dog, our Chewy, was safe at home and a cancer survivor.
This is the first year that we can't say that.
And it's tough. Really tough.
I think in a small part of my brain, I am worried that I might see someone that I haven't seen in a long time and have to explain to them that we lost Chewy. And even though it has been 10 months, it is still tear-inducing and heart-wrenching.
And so tonight, he won't be waiting for us to come home, but he will be there with us in spirit.
We will donate in his honor, as The Chew Crew, and know that we are helping another family get through the extraordinary challenge that is a cancer diagnosis in your beloved pet.
This group is so important to so many families because they allow for people to have the option to treat if they so desire. If you'd like to donate or would like more information about this organization, their website is www.fetchacure.org.