Three years ago today, my life was changed forever when I got the call from the vet telling me that my beloved friend and companion, a beautiful four year old English Bulldog named Georgia, had cancer. Multicentric lymphoma he said. She’d live six to eight weeks without treatment.
And with those words, I suddenly found myself the mom of a ‘cancer pup’ and my world hasn’t been the same since — in both good ways and bad. The first 24 hours were the most difficult, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my little girl, who seemed relatively healthy and vibrant, could be gone from me in a matter of weeks. With no help from our vet, who seemed very apathetic about the whole thing, I spent the night researching everything I could find about canine cancer, treatments and places that we could go to begin chemotherapy. I called Georgia’s breeder, wondering if any other members of her family had developed cancer, which they had not. I called my family to tell them the terrible news, and got sympathy, but didn’t feel like they could completely understand the devastation I was feeling. It was a long and hopeless night.
And then there was that one moment when everything changed for me. One of those unforgettable moments in life when you suddenly find yourself on a new path that you’d never even seen coming. Against my typical nature but willing to do anything to help my little girl, I reached out to some strangers, a group of other pet owners at the Pet Cancer Support Group on DelphiForums. I’d never been part of an online forum before and wasn’t very experienced as asking people for help, let alone people I didn’t know. But within minutes of posting Georgia’s story, I got an email back from a woman whose Rottweiler Kiah had also been recently diagnosed. Her message was short, but exactly what I needed. She told me that Kiah had started chemotherapy a few weeks ago and was doing great…in complete remission and feeling good. She told me that we could try chemo and hopefully the same would happen for Georgia, and if not, we could stop the treatment at any time. For me, in that moment of fear and heartache, that message of hope meant so much. But even more, the fact that I had connected with someone who REALLY understood what I was going through meant so much more. It was a lifeline that I desperately needed.
And now, looking back on three years since this journey with cancer first began, I am so grateful for the blessings it has brought into my life. Along with a broken heart, I learned how to better appreciate the simple little moments in each day that really matter, and stopped worrying as much about the future, choosing instead to focus on today, trying to live in the present like our dogs do so effortlessly. I also found some amazing, caring people who picked me up time and again when things were at their worst, who advised me and supported my decisioins without judgement, who cried with me, laughed with me and who truly understood. I found that there was a whole world of pet owners out there just like me, who saw their pups as four legged kids and essential members of the family, not just ‘animals’ who aren’t worth spending thousands of dollars and hours of time on just to try to save them from cancer.
Even though we lost Georgia to cancer 13 months later, every day of the fight was so worthwhile. I don’t regret one decision that we made in trying to help our little girl. We did our absolute best, and tried to enjoy every extra day we got with her.
So today, on this anniversary of sorts, I would like to thank the friends that I have made on this journey and hope that through Georgia’s Legacy, working to help other pet owners who suddenly find themselves the parent of a pup with cancer, I can somehow pay back the enormous debt of gratitude that I owe each one of you. And, I hope I can live up to my promises made to Georgia, that her fight against cancer was not in vain and her courage and love will forever be remembered.
For more information about canine cancer and Georgia’s Legacy, visit www.fightcaninecancer.com.