Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Survivor Stella - 1 Year Later
In May of 2014, Stella was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She has a glioma in a spot that can't be removed. The oncologist and neurologist advised radiation with no guarantee. "We can possibly buy her a year of quality life."
First instinct - do it. Of course. We would do anything for our pups. Then we discussed whether or not this was right for Stella. Luckily, radiation is not invasive and does not hurt. However it did mean putting her under for 17 rounds over 3 weeks. So from June to July last summer, Stella, Sophie and I packed up each day and headed out on the 45 minute drive to Stella's treatment.
While there, I would try and work while Sophie tried to intimidate every other dog in the waiting room. Even a cat once. At the beginning, they didn't think the radiation was working. Stella hadn't had any more seizures (we discovered she was sick when she had 6 in 72 hours) but she just wasn't doing well. She was incontinent. She wandered. She was confused and weak. She couldn't go on walks because she couldn't pick up her paws and the drugs made her so unsteady. She was on 15 pills a day. As bad as all that sounds, I still think it was harder on us than her. Or maybe that is just how I rationalized continuing on the path.
And then one day she turned the corner. She began to show signs of bouncing back and we started to get hopeful. On July 14, 2014, Stella graduated from radiation. The doc said he had never seen a dog so sick recover so much and still believed we bought her a year.
At her oncology check-up yesterday we confirmed it's been a year and 2 weeks. She has stepped down many meds and she plays like a puppy again. She is stubborn and mischievous and sometimes confused but hey, she does have brain cancer. But she is here and she is happy.
So we stop watching the calendar because anything over a year is a gift for all of us. No matter how frustrated she makes us (did I mention she was stubborn?), she is still here. We get to cuddle with her, hear her snore, watch her play and feel her stare whenever we eat. We are the lucky ones.
So today I would just like to say thank you. To Stella for fighting. To T for believing we could get through this. To Sophie for making us laugh. And to God for blessing us with 54 more weeks of Stella. We may not know how many we have left but what we have is priceless.
And to those of you who have a loved one struggling with illness, you are in our prayers.