My last chemo session was August 30, 2011. The note from Dr. Freeman said “This concluded his six month treatment plan.” The whole saga certainly made me feel as if I was more than just a “six month treatment plan.” Jim at the Veterinary Cancer Referral Center said I graduated.
Jim always had treats for me. I got another adopted sister in Yuki when my mom overreacted to my diagnosis and drove to Yakima, Washington, with Heidi last April, thinking that I was going to die any day now. I got to sleep on the bed all the time which was especially nice. I got special food made by some guy named Paul Newman. (It made up for all those pills my mom tried to hide in my meals. Like I DIDN’T know they were in there!) I went for rides in the car more than the other dogs. I met a wonderful assortment of fellow cancer patients at my weekly appointments at Dove Lewis, like Draco with Chewbacca-like feet, the rather large, attractive tripod muttley pictured here who was doing well when last we met. When I met him he had just had one of his back legs amputated and it didn't seem to bother him one bit. And Jim also gave him treats, of course.
On the day of my last treatment, a rather large, burly, tattooed gentleman walked in to the waiting room with what I thought was a guinea pig in his hand. Turns out it was the tiniest of kittens he found in the middle of NW 23rd Avenue in Portland. Truth be told, he didn’t look like the kind of guy who would stop for a tiny, vulnerable fuzz-ball stranded in the middle of a busy street, which only reinforces that “book by its cover” theory. He couldn’t keep the kitten because he already had WAY to many animals. The kitten was too small to be taken in by Multnomah County Animal Services which, from I’ve been told, only services animals by putting them to death so that was probably a good thing.
Well, my mom made the mistake of eavesdropping, which she does too often. The kitten would have to be hand fed because she was really young. She seemed okay but without someone to foster or adopt her, who was going to pay for tests to make sure? She had some fleas but was otherwise pretty healthy looking. Little does my dad know but we almost introduced a 6th animal to our menagerie that fateful day. My mom went home and spent the next four hours calling people, posting on blogs and facebook, checking in with Jim to make sure the kitten was still okay, desperately searching for a home for this poor little thing. One of my mom’s friend, Tracee from Seattle, was going to drive down the next day to get her if we couldn’t find her a home. Fortunately, another friend, Holly, was thinking about getting another kitten since her other cat had passed away a little while ago. My mom was actually on the phone planning on going to get her because she didn’t know if Holly was really going to be able to get down there in time. Jim asked my mom, “Is your friend’s name Holly? She’s on the other line right now with the vet…” Her name is now Miss Boots because she has four tiny white feet. Even when she weighed in at under a pound, she managed to keep the 90 lb. Labrador in check. As you can see, she didn’t particularly appreciate the baths to get rid of the fleas (she looks SO sad) but she’s in good hands now. The hand feeding lasted only one day.
So, I’ve been cancer-free since April. Seven months. When we walked out of Dove Lewis that sunny August day, one would think we would celebrate. But my mom seemed inexplicably distressed. I suppose with the weekly visits and the drug protocol, and the concomitant administration of additional prescriptions, we had benchmarks to meet. Places to go. People to see. Now we just wait. It’s not a question of “if.” It’s “when.” My lymphoma WILL come back. Dr. Freeman said it could be weeks. It could be months. She even said that there was a Basset who enjoyed four years in remission and we all KNOW that Corgi’s are much better suited for survival than Basset’s. While I am optimistic, my mom is more of a realist. Or so she claims. She always has been a glass-half-empty kinda gal. I believe she claims "Glass Half Empty" is her Native American name.
Prior to my last treatment, Yuki and Fred got to go to the Dove Lewis “Corgi Walk.” Yuki is still rather skittish around crowds and my mom felt it would be good for her to get out and about. Fred, on the other hand, just barks incessantly. It doesn’t make any difference if you tell him nobody likes a loud Corgi. There were 150 Corgi’s. Some in costume. Some with slippers. Next year, my mom says she wants to staff a grooming table to raise even more money for Dove Lewis so that they can take care of any future Miss Boots that come through the door. She's thinking about a grooming table that just brushes Corgi’s: 10 minutes for $10. She thinks she’ll raise hundreds. I hope to be there to see her reap the rewards.
The theme was red and white polka dots that had something to do with someone named Rosie the Riveter. All I know is we raised some money and I got to play with the balloons after everyone left. Call me crazy but these balloons actually stalked me! See for yourself!