The week before Christmas, our younger dog, Gracee (the white and brown one above), had an upset stomach a couple of times. For those of you who are dog owners, it is not unusual for a dog to get an upset stomach once in awhile, so we did not think too much of it. Then she had one episode of projectile vomiting of water and I knew that something was not right with our girl.
The next day, she became incontinent of urine. Our five year old pup lost all control of her bladder to the point that we had to use adult Depends briefs to keep her from having accidents. It was at that time that the alarm bells starting ringing in my gut. She became lethargic and was not acting at all like the Gracee we all know and love. Then as I was rubbing her tummy on Christmas day, I felt an odd lump on one side of her abdomen. It did not appear to cause any pain but it definitely was something that drew my attention.
I thought maybe she had a urinary tract or a bladder infection, so my husband took her to a local veterinary clinic in the town we had recently moved to. They felt the lump and also started her on antibiotics thinking along the same line as I, that she may have an infection of her urinary tract. They also said that we should get an x-ray of her abdomen to see what that lump might be. Off Ken goes to take her to another local veterinary clinic to get the x-rays completed. Results – negative.
We complete a weeks worth of antibiotics and our girl is lethargic, drinking voraciously, and peeing like there is no tomorrow. She is totally incontinent, in addition to peeing outside whenever she is let out. It is like there is a wide gaping hole from her mouth to her bladder and nothing is getting absorbed… then the vomiting came back.
I knew something was very wrong so back we went to our local vet clinic once again. The young doctor was puzzled and really had no answers. Thinking that maybe she had diabetes or some other dis-ease, blood work was drawn. Results – unremarkable.
I watched our beautiful girl go from a friendly, loving, playful soul to only being interested in drinking water, peeing and sleeping. No interest in playing with our other pup, no tail wagging, and the look in her soulful eyes told me that she needed me to find answers…
I called the University of Minnesota Veterinary Clinic at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning, and at 1:00 p.m., Gracee was being evaluated by veterinarian students and staff. At 2:30, she was in an ultrasound to check the lump in her abdomen. My husband and I were feeling relieved and positive that we finally were going to get answers and get treatment for our precious Gracee.
I walked out to our car where Ken was hanging out with a bite to eat for me while Gracee was in the ultrasound. As I walked to our vehicle, I looked up at a woman in the passenger side of the car next to us. Our eyes connected and I could see that she was crying. It struck a chord in my heart and I felt so sad for her. I mentioned this to my husband as I got into our vehicle, telling him how badly I felt for this woman because I assumed something was seriously wrong with her beloved pet.
After a bite to eat, I went back into the clinic to await the results of Gracee’s ultrasound. I imagined that she might need surgery to remove that lump if it was pressing on her bladder, so I prepared myself for what that might look like in terms of timing. I wasn’t worried at all… that is until the students brought Gracee back to me and we were ushered into a little room, to wait for the resident to come and discuss the ultrasound results. For some reason, I had a wave of uncertainty and some sadness wash over me. As I rubbed my girl, talking softly to her and letting her know how much I loved her and telling her that we were going to find answers to get her feeling good again, she barely could look me in the eye. My soulful girl who ALWAYS comes up to people and stares deeply into their eyes, looking deep into their souls… and she could not look at me directly. My intuition went into high alert!
The resident came and the look on her face told me that something was definitely wrong and not a simple thing. Our Gracee has multiple mast cell tumors that have metastasized through her abdomen. She is in the advanced stages of cancer and the prognosis per the doctor was approximately four (4) weeks. With chemotherapy, she might live an additional 4-6 months but there is no cure.
My world crashed around me and my heart physically hurt as it started to break. I sobbed as I buried my head into Gracee’s fur… I could not fathom that this young pup was riddled with cancer and going to die.
I was that tear-filled woman in the car next to us…
For a good twenty-four hours, I cried more than I didn’t. I could not talk to anyone but my immediately family because the words only made it real and I did not want it to be real. I just wanted to hole up in a cocoon of safety and just hold my Gracee…
Ken and I had made a decision to not move forward with aggressive chemotherapy because we did not want to put Gracee in any discomfort. We are committed to having her live a quality life filled with an abundance of love surrounding her. With that intention, we picked up some medications to help her symptoms and decided that we would take her to our river home in Central Minnesota – our peaceful haven and a place that Gracee loves to romp around.
I drove up Gracee separately and the two and a half hour drive was probably the most cathartic action I could have taken. As she sat in the passenger seat, I massaged her neck and head for the full trip. I talked to her, I talked to myself, I talked to all the heavenly beings, and I had a long conversation with God. I cried more than I have cried in decades. I got ticked off, thinking of the unfairness that Gracee’s life was being cut so short. The emotions rose up in a crescendo, released with tears, and then slowly quieted down…a symphony of raw feelings being played out within and flowing out.
Then last night something changed. I decided to give her a bath because of the weeks of incontinence. I knew she would feel better being clean and having me massage her under a gentle stream of warm water and cleansing shampoo. It was at that time that I had my wake-up call. The call to ACTION.
I realized that I had given up hope the minute the vet resident gave me the prognosis. I totally swallowed the dire news hook, line and sinker. Me, the one who lives in Faith. Me, the one who believes we can heal physical issues that are not serving us.It felt like a thick fog had lifted and I realized that this was my time to truly walk my talk… to believe… to live in Faith… and to take appropriate action to help Gracee find healing.
So I have researched her type of cancer. I know what type of food we will be feeding her to minimize the amount of histamine released in her system. I have called on my friends who understand animals extremely well, and have asked them to help connect energetically with my girl to let her know that I am willing to do whatever it takes to help her heal. I have laid with her, massaging her belly area and imagining the cancerous tumors shrinking. I am asking everyone I know, to pray and send good healing energy her way.
I am going to walk in Faith the size of a mustard seed… a Faith that can move mountains.
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you”. (Matthew 17:20)
I will continue to document this journey because I know that our story will resonate for others. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts as we progress down this road.
In the meantime, we will be holding our girl close and loving her up as much as possible!
(Gracee and Dad)
Light & Love to you all!