Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 8th - Pet Cancer Awareness Day

I just wanted to share two stories that I wrote for the RV Pet group as there are so many of us on there who have gone through what we have and hopefully someday there will be more answers and greater cure rates..


Mickey came into my life on January 25, 2002 when I met Bill. She had been a gift to him from his kids. She was the kind of Golden that would cry when you came home and wag her butt around crazy! I brought 3 cats into her life which she stoically accepted at first and then became cuddle friends with one, Amiga. At that time it was Mickey and the Monsters when we talked about our babies. When we went out of town and couldn't take her (we didn't have an RV then) we dropped her off at my parents and my mom made her pancakes for breakfast! LOL..we have a picture from my mom's house of her intently "watching" TV..she was a spitting image of Mandy, a Golden I had grown up with so my parents doted on her.

Early in 2003 we noticed she had problems breathing. We took her to the vet who thought it may be blastomycosis which is a fungus that can get into lungs of people and animals when there is the perfect storm for it to be created. We treated her with $10 pills but she kept going downhill. We finally had to take her to the emergency vet one night and they put her on a respirator. They then told us that it was cancer and it was all through her. I kept thinking there was something that I could have, should have seen or done but I've come to know that we unfortunately lose 60% of Goldens to cancer.

Bill could not say the words so I unfortunately had to be the one to tell them we had to let her go. Besides saying those exact words last year about my beloved Tigre, who we also lost to cancer, that has been the hardest thing I've had to do in my life especially since I felt it wasn't really my place to make the call but it had to be done.

Afterwards Bill refused to discuss the possibility of a new dog. He internalizes grief and clams up. I finally made the decision almost a year later to just get one whether he approved or not. We came home in January 2004 from Florida and I had Dozer all ready to be picked up. Bill was not happy but in an hour it was forgotten. In memory of Mickey Dozey still wears her collar...a bit frayed but "in the family". We have Mickey's TV picture in the rig along with our current monsters and she will always, always be remembered and is waiting for us at the bridge I know.


I hope I am not being a space hog here but I, unfortunately, have two stories to tell and I am sure there are some of you who do too. This is very cathartic as I have never really sat and put down in words just what they have meant to me....

Tigre came into my life at a time I was really mixed up and not sure if I was coming or going. I had always loved cats but my parents did not so I never had one growing up and when I got on my own I really didn't have animals in my 20s as I was moving around so much. At that time it would have been more of me worrying about inconveniencing ME rather than worrying about THEM so it is good I remained petless.

I was living in an upper apartment with my brother and a friend of mine when the downstairs neighbor kids found a young cat. They really didn't have the money for her so I decided to take her. As I was teaching Spanish at the time I went with that theme to find a name for her. Tiges was like a little koala bear in that she liked to be held and would cling to me. She had one side of her paws and mouth white and the other black. At that time I wasn't thinking and didn't get her spayed right away so she ended up having 2 litters when my brother couldn't stand her screaming at night and would let her out. I finally wised up and took her in to get fixed. Good did come out of the 2 litters and I now have 2 of her daughters - Amiga from the first litter and Gata Lu from the second.

When Gata Lu was just starting to walk I was in a leg brace as I pulled my quad. I accidentally stepped on Gata Lu who, of course, screamed bloody murder. Tigre came at me like a demon cat and attacked my head where I had fallen. I threw her off of me and she came right back! Talk about mother bear instincts, but I don't blame her at all as I had injured her baby. That was the only time she was anything other than loving and sweet.

After meeting Bill life became more settled. Although he had never really liked cats, he learned to! He called Tiges the "Michael Jordan kitty" as she always sat with her tongue sticking out!

In early winter of 2008 Tigre got "an ear infection"...or so says the vet that we took her to. We had moved 2 hours up north and had changed from our trusted vet to have someone closer. We treated her "ear infection" for over a month until one weekend between Christmas and New Years I realized I hadn't really seen her for a while. I found her under the bed and had to pull her out. In 48 hours a huge tumor had grown on the right side of her face and she was bleeding out of that ear. We immediately rushed 2 hours south to the emergency vet. She clung to me like a baby koala for the entire ride. We checked her in and the hospital started doing tests. Being the holidays everything took forever. On New Year's Eve I got the call that it was melanoma.

I, being me, had been frantically researching anything and everything I could online. This was about the first time I posted on this board. I had been just a lurker previously. Everyone here was as helpful as they could be. I found a study going on at the University of Wisconsin - Madison Veterinary School for cats with melanoma and I made plans to take Tiges there. We drove back down to get her but when I saw her I realized it was too late. She had a feeding tube, she couldn't walk...the cancer was too widespread...I know you probably think I was being selfish in taking her to the cancer program but I was also hoping they could find out more information for those of us who will go through this in the future...also for the fact that I have two of her daughters.

I painfully made the decision to let her go to the bridge. The pain of this has not entirely gone away yet as I am bawling as I write this and read all of your tributes. It is my greatest wish that somehow this monster can be eradicated so no one else has to go through what we have. Just the fact that there is now an Awareness Day and walks going on is a step in the right direction.

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