My life has been a whirlwind of emotions the last couple of weeks with the discovery that my beloved dog, Gypsy, has prostate cancer. The thought of my happy go lucky Gypsy has cancer seems a terrible injustice. This dog has had enough misfortune in his short life and doesn’t need any more. Then I think, the last three years have probably been the best years of his life and, – mine.
That little dog has blessed me beyond measure. And, in turn, I’ve been a blessing to him. Gypsy and I coming together has been a win-win for both of us. Now, he has cancer. That is very upsetting to me. It is life, though. I am thankful that we have had at least three years together. Life the past three years has been wonderful for me and Gypsy has a lot to do with that. And, he is still with me and, is still a very happy little guy.
I momentarily got caught up in my emotions and crashed at the fact of the unfairness of life. It took a weekend of contemplation to remember that there have never been any guarantees in life for anyone or anything except, – death. Everything that lives on this planet eventually must die. That’s common sense, of course. But, when it’s very personal, death can overwhelm me. I’ve buried now more than several dogs that I loved dearly. All of my grandparents have died. One of my siblings has died. I’ve survived their departure but it’s never been without tears and the emptiness felt at the departure of each. Every time death has knocked close to my home, my heart has broken but every time, my heart has healed. I will focus on the fact that Gypsy is still here! I will not mourn while he is here. When he is gone, then will I mourn. But right now, Gypsy is here and he is happy and that, makes me happy.
I have opted to make life as comfortable for Gypsy as I possibly can until time for him to go is evident. I will not put him on chemotherapy. I do not want him to feel sick while he is feeling so good at this time. As for radiation, at this time, I’ve opted to stay away from that as well. Gypsy is 11 years old. The reality is that Australian Shepherds’ life span is 10 to 12 years. Do I really want to make him sick and uncomfortable at this stage in his life by putting him on chemo or subjecting him to radiation? Especially, when the chemo and the radiation truly have no hope of getting rid of the cancer but of simply slowing down it’s growth. Will I get an extra month of life out of Gypsy by subjecting him to these harsh cancer fighting remedies? What will that extra month be like for him?
I’ve opted instead to feed Gypsy well, take him for long walks, hang out with him as much as I can. Basically, I’ve decided to do everything within my power to increase his quality of life however long that may be. He is still on piroxicam and will remain on that until he dies or until his body is cancer free.
Yes, I am an optimist. I believe Gypsy has a chance to beat cancer because…
- I’m a fervent believer in the power of prayer and in God. If God can and has blessed me by bringing this little guy into my life then God can prolong Gypsy’s life. So, I pray and pray for a miracle of more time and a cancer-free Gypsy
- I’ve updated Gypsy’s diet to consist of lots of veggies, high protein (chicken, fish, lean beef), fruits and nothing processed.
- Lots of love. I make sure to spend lots of quality time with the Gypster. He’s my little bud and I’m letting him know that all of the time by spending lots of time with him, scratching him, walking him, and playing with him (Gypsy loves to play tug-of-war).
- He’s still on and will remain on piroxicam. Piroxicam has been proven to prolong the life of a dog with cancer and, with minimal side effects. My late Maccabee had a more severe cancer and piroxicam allowed him more time than the doctors expected.
Life is what it is. You live it and try to enjoy it as much as you can always acknowledging that it will end one day. I intend to hold onto Gypsy as long as his little body can stand to live whether that be a few more years or a few more months. I love Gypsy and I’m thankful to God for bringing this little guy into my life. So far, it’s been a wonderful experience and that’s something to be happy about.