Currently listening to: Cloud Nine by Ben Howard

I just tweeted:

Yes, still up & writing. Going w/it. This week: all abt going w/what feels good. My mind & soul r a bit beat. Being careful w/them.

If I’ve learned anything in the last 15 months of dealing with loss & grief, it’s to go slow, to take my time, to go with what feels right in the moment. Believe me, I’ve had more than a few people in the last year tell me to hurry up and move on, to dive into work, to drown myself in it until I’ve managed to forget. The problem is the death of a loved one cannot be forgotten. And avoidance only avoids your new reality. (more…)

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Tonight my dog Leo lost his battle with cancer. Last November he was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. In May, he completed a round of chemo with flying colors. Unfortunately, as was expected, the tumors came back in August. We elected not to put him through another round of chemo knowing that it would only buy him another couple months. We wanted him to enjoy the rest of his time. Despite the tumors, he was a happy, hyper-active dog these last four months. But, tonight it was time. He was 12-years old. He will be very missed.

Well, this is interesting.

A week ago today, my dog Leo completed chemotherapy to treat mast cell tumors (Grade III), a type of cancer. His chemo protocol used drugs that were intended for human use, but allowed for use in dogs. Until today, there were no FDA-approved cancer drugs specifically for dogs. Today, it was announced that the first FDA-approved cancer drug was approved specifically to treat canine cancer, and more specifically,  mast cell tumors.

Palladia is an oral medication. Developed by Pfizer, the drug has been in development since 2000. At the end of the clinical study, “approximately 60 percent of dogs had their tumors disappear, shrink or stop growing.” The drug won’t be available until 2010.

So far Leo has responded well to the chemotherapy protocol he was given. We’re essentially in holding pattern to see if there is any reoccurrence. I don’t know if this drug will be something we can turn to in the future if another mast cell tumor pops up. But it’s nice to know that researchers actually are working on his type of cancer.

For more information:

Pfizer Press Release: FDA Approves First Canine Cancer Therapy

Also, just discovered this organization:

Morris Animal Foundation: Cure Canine Cancer Campaign

010Today was my dog Leo’s last chemo treatment. His oncologist (yes, my dog has an oncologist) is very happy with where we are. Six months ago, I wasn’t so sure this day would come and that Leo would be doing so well.

Overall, chemo was an non-event. For the first month, he had weekly injectable Vinblastine treatments. Then he switched to five months of twice monthly treatments, which were a mixture of the injectable Vinblastine and oral Lomustine. There were one or two days over the course of his treatment where he exhibited some side effects–mainly vomiting and decreased appetite. But for the most part, these episodes resolved themselves within a day. For the last six months, his appetite and energy level were just as they were before he was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Mast Cell Tumor (the worst kind) last November. No new masses appeared during the course of his chemo; and more importantly no mass reappeared at the site of the original mass that was surgically removed last November confirming the cancer diagnosis. His regular vet & the oncologist had warned us back when this all started that there was a strong likelihood that that mass would regrow within a couple months. Six months later, there is nothing & that is absolutely wonderful. (more…)

Yes, it’s been awhile. I could blame life, but really I think it was laziness that got in the way of me posting.

Yes, life has been trying at times. Definitely some days that I couldn’t wait to get over with–specifically my mother’s birthday (May 9) & Mother’s Day (May 10). Yep, back-to-back. After I passed the 6-month mark in March, I think I became obsessed with how I would or wouldn’t get through that weekend in May. On the upside, I got through it with a trip out of town. I knew I couldn’t be home that weekend. I knew it would be too hard. Instead, I went to DC to spend it with my brother & a lot of really good friends, who for the most part did a great job of distracting me & keeping me busy. Admittedly, attending the wedding of one friend on my mother’s birthday was not ideal. It was a little hard to stand in the church & know that when/if I ever finally decide to get married, my mother won’t be there. That wasn’t a reminder I needed on her birthday. I had thought about skipping the wedding, but I knew I couldn’t. And in the end, as hard as it was to be there, I’m glad I was there. My brother & I dealt with Mother’s Day by essentially ignoring it. Sometimes, that really is the best way to deal with things.

I’m relieved to have made it through that weekend. These last 8 months of events/holidays to get through & get past  have been just that, things & days to get through & get past. Unfortunately, what I realized the day after I returned home was that getting through or past any of these events/holidays really doesn’t mean anything. Yes, I’ve gotten though the one, but there are a lifetime more to come. This just keeps going. Yes, I will admit that today was better than yesterday; but the reality is, however many days, months, or years pass between the day my mother died & where I am, the fact remains, she’s still not here.

God, depressing. I so didn’t mean for this post to be such a downer. (more…)

Image: Inma :) via flickr

Image: Inma 🙂 via flickr

I don’t know where I’ve been, but I’m back.

Weeks 24-27 & number 28 today. They came & went. One just blends into another these days, so I guess I can just let them go without saying much more.

The 6 month mark didn’t pass by as easily. The day was blah. Tears were shed. I finally realized I do most of my crying while driving. Sunglasses help to keep the other drivers from wondering what the hell is wrong. I’ve been able to drive through it; only once in the last 6 months have I had to pull over. Anyways, I’ll get around to writing a post for that day. But for now, I survived it. I guess that’s the important part. The main observation to come out of it was how quickly & how slowly time has passed. And now I get to look forward to 1-year. Fuck.

On the writing front, things have gone really well. I took another writing class this past quarter (just finished last week). As I wrote in my last post, I got incredibly good feedback from my instructor. The positive feedback started with my editing skills and then extended into really great comments on my writing & my novel. The course focused on writing & rewriting the 1st 50-pages of your novel. So, I really feel like I came out of it with a good start, with material that should carry me forward. I had my weaknesses pointed out & spent the course addressing them. I feel like I know how to overcome them now which is great. (more…)

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Image: flattop341 via flickr

Friday, the day before, 5 months, was harder than today.

For the most part, the day was busy. I had my writing group in the morning & then spent the late afternoon & much of the evening at the birthday party of a family friend. “B” is the younger sister of my oldest friend. She, with my friend, & their mother, were the first people here the day my mother died. “B” has proven to be a life-saver. She has helped me with walking the dogs in the last few months. Even before I dislocated my knee, I couldn’t walk them together. Leo & Teddy travel at two decidedly different paces. Leo loves to run. Teddy is content with a just the car ride & seeing the park. He prefers to kick back & lounge in the grass. So, “B” has been there to fill in the gap my mother’s loss left. She used to walk Teddy, while I ran Leo. “B” was also the one who dropped everything the day I had to take Teddy in for surgery & stayed with me until we knew for sure he had made it through surgery. It was good to be there to help her celebrate, but the unfortunate thing about any family event with her family is the noticeable absence of my mother. She would have been there. She was always there for parties, special occasions at their house. But still, it was a nice way to pass the day even if it did suck on some level.

But I’m learning that’s how it goes. Every day, every thing, even if it’s good or ok, still sucks on some level.