How Bone Cancer Changes the Caregiver
By Lisa Allen, email@example.com
This story from Bernese Mountain Dog owner Lisa Allen appeared on the bonecancerdogs email list, and is reprinted here with her kind permission.
I know that Moses' two year battle with bone cancer changed me. I was his greatest advocate and even though his doctors were the very best, exceptional, really, every waking hour I ascertained that his needs were met and even exceeded in this regard. I made certain that he received the most advanced treatments available and his doctors, God bless them, passionately advocated for him as well. But, I would do this for any family member (and have) and my dogs are a part of the family.
My breed, Bernese Mountain Dogs, includes cancer among its health problems, as do many breeds. From time to time, I think about how I would react if another dog of mine was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. I know that in the several hours after the diagnosis, I would feel a profound sadness and an even greater fear for I have seen "the face" of this dreadful cancer and it is ugly and determined, with an "expression" tending toward gloating, as if mocking one's attempts to treat it. But, treat it, of course, I would and with the swiftness its discovery demands.
I knew in my heart of hearts that even with amputation, chemotherapy, lung surgery, more chemo, and the bone cancer vaccination, the best we could do, even though I allowed myself to hope otherwise, would be to stay one step ahead of this evil entity, osteosarcoma, and to keep it at bay. And, I think that this is what most energizes and drains the caregiver.
For, while you fiercely desire to win the race, so to speak, it is as if a replay of the Kentucky Derby is taking place, where the first two horses are almost nose to nose, with the two constantly changing places, leaving the spectators on edge, wondering who will emerge as victor, crossing the finish line first.
I believe that Moses' cancer was worse for me, in a manner, than for him. For, while I experienced the emotional highs and lows, Moses demonstrated a bravery and strength of spirit that I have never before seen in a living being, and I am fifty years old. Even his doctors commented, often and with wonder, on his way of living life, joyfully and to the fullest, a trait he owned from birth, perhaps even conception. And, in celebration of such a life and a continued attempt to defeat the demon, osteosarcoma, which took him while his spirit was still singing, every month, the first week of such, I make a donation to the Animal Cancer Center, through Dr. Withrow, at Colorado State University and their Tumor Immunology research program, since doctors from both joined "Team Moses," and with the hope that during my lifetime more treatments or a cure will be found for bone cancer in humans (mainly, pediatric) and animals with a most strong personal belief that Colorado State University will "lead the pack" in this regard.