Daisy's Cancer Treatment


It's the last thing you want to hear during a veterinary visit: cancer.  On Tuesday, April 3, Dr. Holly Liu of City Paws Animal Hospital gently suggested that possibility to me after some x-rays of Daisy's spine.  I thought we were there to diagnose arthritis.  Daisy had recently turned 10 years old, and she was slowing down significantly and showing signs of pain, crying at night as she shifted positions.  The x-ray did show some arthritis, but it also showed a vertebra that was significantly lighter than the others - a sign that there was cancer eating away at the bone.  

I couldn't digest the information at first. We went to VCA Southpaws the next day for an MRI, which confirmed that it was cancer.  Unfortunately, a biopsy is needed to determine the type of cancer, and whether or not it can be treated.  If it isn't treatable, we may only have a few months left together.  Otherwise, we can hopefully share another year at least.  Daisy is getting her biopsy on Monday, April 9, and we'll get the results approximately a week after it is completed.  

Shortly after Daisy's initial diagnosis, Charlotte asked me if I would like to share this information with the DC Dog Moms community.  "No!" I thought instantly. It's my knee-jerk reaction; I prefer to keep difficult things private. I lost my father eight years ago after years of complex illnesses and surgeries.  Most of my friends had no idea he was so ill. It made it easier for me to compartmentalize my life and keep going as though nothing was wrong. I could share my concerns with a few close friends, stay awake at night worrying alone, and then go back to work or school the next day and put thoughts of my dad aside and focus on the task at hand.  

When I told Charlotte I didn't want to share the news about Daisy, she said she understood.  But she also asked me to think it through before I made my decision. "A lot of people love Daisy," Charlotte said. "I think they would want to know, and I think they would want to support you." 

She was right, of course.  We started this account to create a stronger community of dog owners in the DC area.  In posts, comments, and new friendships developed between local dog lovers, our followers have shared information about dog-friendly restaurants, discussed the best bags to carry small dogs, traded vet recommendations, and helped search for lost dogs.  We've grown to know and love the people and pets that make up this community, and it seems that they've grown to love our dogs too.  

Charlotte wrote a beautiful post on instagram sharing Daisy's news last week, and I was overwhelmed by the response. A number of people reached out with stories of their dogs' treatments.  Some offered advice and recommendations.  Others shared their own heartbreaking stories of loss and emotional recovery.  Many of our followers haven't had to deal with cancer yet, but they immediately understood the depth of my pain, because they share the same wholehearted love for their dogs that I have for Daisy.  

I have been reading the comments and messages to Daisy at night, trying my best to translate any emojis into belly rubs and ear scratches, letting her know that there are literally hundreds of people who want her to be healthy and pain-free.  

Sharing this news has made it more difficult to compartmentalize, and I've been a wreck since the diagnosis.  But I've also been deeply touched by the support we have received, and in that spirit, I will try to share this journey with all of you on our blog.  Please feel free to comment, email, and share your own stories--I believe that together, we are stronger.  

- Heather