I know hate is a strong word. In the case of cancer though it is the only appropriate word I can come up with. First my son, then me, then my baby brother, and countless friends and relatives…and now my beloved fur baby Maile Izzy Baby Lulu.
Our Christmas was supposed to be glorious. My daughter Keili was home for the holidays…we had just moved into our new home… then, tragedy struck. My puppy girl who is 10 but still acts like a puppy didn’t want to go to bed. She just looked at me with a blank look. I was afraid she had suffered a stroke. She seemed to be breathing okay. So I went to bed. In the morning, she was not on her bed next to mine. I jumped out of bed and started running through the house looking for her. I finally found her at the bottom of the stairs staring blankly at the bottom step. She could not get up. I called to my husband who came and carried her outside to go shi shi. Where he discovered she had gone downstairs in an attempt to get out of the house to throw up.
I took her to the animal hospital because our vet was too booked up to see her. I could hardly get her out of the car and her breathing was labored and then she would pant and then her breathing slowed to almost nothing. We made it to the lobby of the hospital and she collapsed at my feet. When the vet tech was ready for her the two of us had to carry her to the scale and then the exam room.
The doctor could not hear Maile’s heartbeat. She told me to leave her there and go run my errands and that she would call me. I am starting to suspect vets don’t like to be the bearers of bad news. I received a call a while later. Maile’s pericardium was full of blood. They tapped it and removed 60 ml. She told me that this was typical of heart tumors.
The only person on the island who does echocardiograms had just left for two weeks on holiday.
Keili accompanied Maile and me to Honolulu. We flew out on Mokulele Airlines, which deserves a shout out because they flew Maile for free. Maile had lost all her energy again. She was able to lay on the bench seat with her head in my lap. We took her straight to the ER at a specialty veterinary hospital. Maile was admitted and we were sent on our way. With a heavy heart, I left my fur baby with strangers.
That afternoon 30ml of blood was removed from the sac around her heart. She was being pumped with fluids. The echocardiogram and ultrasound showed two Hemangiosarcomas. Bleeding tumors common to Golden Retrievers I was told. I would have to wait a day to speak with the oncologist.
To chemo or not to chemo was the big question. Steve and I each called Maui vets and asked for their opinions. They told us the chemo would give her a little more time but would not cure her cancer. We did not want her to suffer or to prolong her life selfishly if it would cause her pain. We finally decided to try the chemo to see if she could tolerate it. So, she was infused. I was instructed to purchase a Chinese herb medicine that helps stop bleeding. Yunna Baiyao is a miracle drug. The hard part is finding it in quantity because Maile has to take 4 capsules a day.
The first week was shaky. I cried a lot. She couldn’t eat without throwing up. Then, she stopped eating. Try getting pills down a dog who doesn’t want to eat. We were at the point where Steve called the vet to find out when he could come to our house to put her to sleep. Fortunately, the word was not until the end of the week.
She kept asking to go for a walk. She would make it as far as the driveway and stop. It was heartbreaking. We were preparing ourselves to say goodbye. The very next night I came home and she was eating McDonald’s magical french fries. The day after that she was swimming in the ocean.
Well, it has been a little over three weeks since diagnosis and she is doing amazingly well. She just had her second chemo treatment yesterday. She will likely feel crappy on Tuesday. But we have pills for that. We are just grateful that she is as normal as possible and still full of personality and pizazz. Maybe she will be a cancer survivor and prove all the doctors wrong. I am praying those magical fries did the trick. If she doesn’t survive, my grief will be deep and prolonged. I have never had a pet who took my heart like this little girl.