Not in the Cards

Some things… just cannot become part of the plan, no matter how much you might want them to.

It’s become to clear to me that fostering Snow is one of those things. I am going to continue to visit her as I am able and work on socializing her with friends and family that are able to come with me when I have time to visit her at the shelter, but I can’t bring another dog into my home right now. There is a very narrow window of opportunity for such things when you have a dog in your home with cancer.

I visited Snow for a week, about the time she was ready to do a trial run in my home for the weekend, Mugen picked up kennel cough. I contacted the shelter, let them know I was still interested but could not stress his system or risk Snow getting sick by bringing her into my home when Mugen had KC. They agreed. I am now Snow’s placement partner. Her adoption fee at the shelter is paid in full. I told them I would come back when Mugen is well, but that until then, if they found alternative placement for her, to pursue it. I did intend to go back if she was still available, but as of this moment, he still coughs a couple of times a day and hasn’t finished his run of meds. So it was going to be probably one more week of not being able to visit her. Mugen is recovering very well, and after discussing it with my vet, more than likely picked up KC from a neighbor’s dog, that’s our suspicion. Moral of that story? If your dog is coughing, don’t walk them!

Unfortunately, I had a small window of opportunity to adopt or foster Snow because Lucy was doing very well. Her cancer did not seem to be progressing after stopping chemo and starting prednisone. I had wanted to add a third dog to the family because I knew Lucy’s time with us was short and I know that Mugen will grieve for Lucy harder than any of us. She is, for all intents and purposes, his mama bear. I don’t think Mugen remembers life without Lucy in it. He is very devoted to her, very attached and I love having two dogs. I figured… if I was going to bring in a dog before Lucy’s time came, the opportunity presented itself perfectly with Snow. Snow’s behavior problems were pretty common given her situation, I was raised around GSDs and I understand the personality and the quirks and have great resources with trainers familiar with the breed available to me. It seemed perfect. She even warmed up to my DH pretty fast and he looked at her after she’d finally started taking hot dogs from him and said, “I can work with her.”

I felt good about it. We felt good about it. My kids adored her, my husband was cautiously optimistic and a foster isn’t a forever sort of deal. If it didn’t work that we could adopt her, she would live with us and get listed on petfinder and eventually adopted by someone else and we would have given her a great start to a better life.

But… the window of opportunity just closed.

Lucy has an MCT on her neck. We first noticed it about a month ago. It was the size of a pencil eraser when I found it. Today it is slightly larger than a quarter and initially we thought we would see what prednisone did to it. And then suddenly… out of nowhere, the thing quadruples in size and erupts. That’s what life with this cancer is. It’s not a progression of disease that you can watch through xrays and ultrasounds. It just… shows up out of nowhere. It’s horrible.

You have a few weeks, maybe a month where everything is okay and suddenly, the horror comes back. Once your dog has been diagnosed as having systemic disease, as Lucy has been, you’ve got two choices, wait for the cancer to win, or try not to kill your dog with experimental chemo drugs. Neither are good choices and sometimes, chemo works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, cancer goes into remission and tumors disappear without a single explanation for it.

There is no way to know what will work on cancer. There is no way to know how to win.

Chemo, for Lucy, was hell. She soldiered through it, for me. I knew she was doing it for me at the end of her treatment. At first, it wasn’t that bad, radiation sucked way, way worse. But after a while, when we were about at the last round of chemo drugs, I could tell, she was doing it for me. She would give me the world if I wanted it. She would give me her life.

That was never the point of adopting Lucy. I have never had any intention of asking her to give up any joy or any happiness that she might have, for my sake.

So here we are. This new tumor is probably a grade 3. The pathologist was comfortable making that guess, just by looking at a few cells on a slide. I was told honestly and legally that it was a guess, but the description of the cells, which I will spare you because I don’t think you’ll get it unless someone you love has died, or is dying, of cancer, made it very, very obvious to me that this lab tech is sure. We’re dealing with the worst. And it sprang up in a month.

One month.

Even if I had chosen Palladia… based on what I’ve read about the drug, odds are good it would not have stopped this. No matter what we did, if this is how things were going to play out, we would still be right here.

And I hate it because it means that no matter what we did… we never had a shot at beating this thing. That is so damned unfair. You have no idea how unfair that is.

So… we are left with few options. One of them is prayer, which I am already doing and I ask you to do the same as well. We need a miracle here. If Lucy has no internal disease, there is a possibility that surgical removal of the tumor will do the job for us and give us more time. We need Lucy’s ultrasound to come back free of disease. If she has disease internally… I don’t know. I don’t want to say it because I just… don’t want to know yet. I’m not ready for it, whatever it is. I know I’m not.

Lucy’s ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow. I will have to be ready for whatever they tell me by then.

Keep my sweet yellow dog in your thoughts. We love her so so much.