It has been a bit over two weeks since radiation treatments ended for Spirit and he is slowly beginning to “come back to himself.”

Today, for the first time in a long time, he picked up a tennis ball and wanted to play ………. until he kind of realized he is not ready to play yet. Looked at me for a moment, dropped the ball and stared at me with a dumb look on his face, like “What the hell am I thinking here!” I almost had to laugh.

The underside of his jaw is still completely hairless and the right side of his lower jaw, where the tumor was located, is still swollen. That is drool hanging down off his jaw in the photo.

A week ago, he wouldn’t let me touch it.

While it must still be tender, he did lay his head on my shoulder the other day as we were driving to our walking place. Before all this happened, his habit was to ride in the car with his front feet on the center console, paw me when he wanted me to pet him, and nuzzling into my neck now and then too – so it is nice to notice he is able to do that a little bit again. A week ago, he was laying on the back seat of my minivan, period.

I still don’t touch his jaw though.

His leg, the other tumor site, is still hairless too but I don’t think there is much, if any, pain there anymore. Looks bad but don’t think it feels bad for him.

 

Because this leg wound is unprotected by a fur layer, each time we go for a walk, I put a Telfa non stick pad on it, hold it in place with Nexcare gentle wrap (sticks to itself), then cover that with a couple of two inch wide self sticking Velcro strips that protect against damage to his skin from brush, etc. Works very well, leaves him free to walk normally and infinitely better than the various medi boots out there, which are clumsy, always coming off and are not water proof anyway.

This routine works well whether it is raining out, or he takes a dip in a creek or whatever. As soon as we get home from our walk, I take all of it off, dry his leg with a paper towel if necessary, save the Velcro for the next time and dispose of the rest of it.

After this is done, I spray his leg (and jaw) with a wonderful Aloe Vera Spray product I found on Amazon (www.sevenminerals.com ). This is a great product for applying healing Aloe Vera without having to touch the area. A godsend for helping Spirit’s jaw, in particular. Now, when I start to spray, he lifts his head up and back so I can apply it – obviously it feels really good to him.

Next time, we will talk about my CBD oil chemotherapy experiment.

To pick up where we left off, the biopsy done by my local vet on spirit’s leg showed it to be a grade I sarcoma. Good news. If it has to be cancer, a sarcoma like this is not as aggressive as other types, so slower to metastasize – and grade I is much better than grade II or III, where the prognosis is not as good.

I take him up to MSU SAC, oncology section (Michigan State University Small Animal Clinic, a 75 minute drive north from where we live).

As to the tumor on his lower jaw, a needle biopsy done at MSU Small Animal Clinic indicates it, too, is a sarcoma but not clear about what kind. We would need to do a biopsy on that to find out.

More scans are done on his lungs and other organs and it appears the cancer has not yet metastasized so, at this moment in time, he seems to have two localized tumors.

I appear to have three choices: a) do nothing and watch him die in a few months or b) they can lop off a chunk of his jaw and remove the entirety of his hind leg (dogs get along just fine with three legs they say) or c) I can opt to do radiation on both tumors and see how it goes.

We are at a crossroad.

Options a) and b) are out of the question for me.

If I just did not have enough money to do anything else, I would have to let him die but, though I can ill afford it, I do have the money to do more.

As to option b), my heart says no.

I would not want to live without a part of my jaw or a missing leg.

Many others, both human and dogs, have lost even more of their body parts and not only survive but thrive, going on to live extraordinary lives. Bless them; I have nothing but admiration for those with that kind of determination, courage and love of life.

But I am not willing to do that to myself. I guess life does not mean that much to me? I can’t say. I just know it is not for me. When I stare into his eyes, in my heart I know it is not for him either.

Sometimes we get to choose which cross we want to carry. This is one of those times.

I choose option c, radiation.

It is going to be very expensive and time consuming, thousands of dollars requiring 18 daily trips on consecutive days to the radiation facility, which for us, is a 75 minute drive to Canton, a western suburb of Detroit (if the traffic is light; who knows how long in rush hour). And he will have to be sedated 18 times, day after day, which worries me.

Any wounds he has must heal before starting radiation or there will not be enough healthy tissue left to ever heal. I decide not to biopsy the jaw tumor, creating another wound that has to heal.

The tumor on his jaw is small but growing. The tumor on his leg is pretty big already. Since the biopsy on his leg left is already an open wound, we agree we might as well remove as much of the leg tumor as possible (no possibility for clear margins though – too many tendons, ligaments and nerves in the way) and leave the tumor on his jaw untouched – what’s to be gained by creating another, even harder wound to heal.

Time is of the essence. No point of in doing radiation once metastasis has occurred.

So, they do the tumor removal on his leg and now it becomes a waiting game.

Will his wound heal soon enough for us to accomplish the radiation protocol before metastasis occurs?

Will just have to bet it works out.

 

 
 
 And so Chili, my last Golden Retriever, did.
 
As each one who has chosen to be in my life has.
 
Hurts my heart each time they leave. 
 
Why do dogs live such short lives>
 
So we can learn the minutes of life can be counted though we don’t know how many we will have together … and maybe … learn something about making them count.
 
So, we might learn something about Appreciation and Gratitude and Love.
 
So, we might learn something about the meaning of life.
 
They do all this without saying a word.
 
Amazing.