I know it has been a little while since I posted an update on Porter.
I guess things were going so well, I didn’t feel like posting.
His 5th chemo treatment came and went and he seemed so good…I found a lymph node on him that seemed a little large to me. But I had it aspirated and there were no mast cells present.
When my vet, Julie, told me that things were OK, I think I didn’t believe her. I didn’t celebrate like I should have, because I had this gut feeling there was more to it.
But we moved on, living our lives like he wasn’t sick and I was just paranoid.
All this week I felt that lymph node as he laid across my console. To me it was changing…it now felt like a goose egg – large and hard. My gut twisted every time I touched it.
When we went to Julie, and I showed her the lymph node, she touched it and then made that face that I have come to know as the “bad news face”.
It is this smile is covering up a grimace.
“Well, let’s aspirate it again. That is the only way to know.”
Porter and I waited for what seemed like hours for the results. It was probably like 20 minutes.
Julie and Ashley (the vet tech) came down the hall, and Julie waved me into the room.
Julie had her “bad news face” on.
She had me sit down. She sat next to me, took a deep breath, and put her arm around me.
“I am so sorry Mandy. There are mast cells present, along with…blah blah blah…”
I didn’t hear what else she said. Tears poured down my face and I dropped to the floor and hugged Porter. He put his chin on my shoulder and pressed down.
That sweet gesture shattered me. I breathed him in and he licked my ear.
The cancer wasn’t responding to the chemotherapy. In fact, it was spreading.
I remember back in April, when I read the oncologist’s report to Julie state, “What a wonderful dog and wonderful owner. This is truly a heartbreaking case.”
Heartbreaking? I didn’t know why she said that.
With my blinders of hope on, we were going to fix him and maybe she was heartbroken because he had to be sick at all.
It was because she knew that this was a nasty form of mast cell cancer that rarely is cured.
Anything we do now is buying time, an extra few months maybe. I will do anything to give him a good quality life for as long as possible.
If we are really lucky he might see his 4th birthday, but that isn’t likely.
I pulled myself together. Sort of.
Julie and Ashley hugged me and said they were so so sorry. To call them tomorrow and we can make a plan.
I walked up to the receptionist to pay. She very kindly said, “I am sorry for your bad news.” I burst into tears and handed her my card to pay for the aspirate.
I sobbed the entire way home.
My sweet, loving boy, who wouldn’t even hurt a fawn:
Has terminal cancer.
Heartbroken doesn’t even cover it. Picture impact proof glass when it is hit by a rock, it shatters but some thin film of something you can’t see seems to hold it all together.
Something like that.
The next day happened to be Friday, and I needed some time with just Porter. So after work, I packed up a bunch of camping stuff and dog food and headed to Greenville to camp at Big Moose Pond for the night.
It is about a mile walk in, and I figured even on a summer weekend, there was a pretty good chance at a nabbing a site.
I was right.
Porter ran around in the pond and drank and drank:
Sat in the tent away from the bugs and looked at the lake:
He chased squirrels through the spruce:
Then we got up the next morning and drove up to Rockwood to hike Mt. Kineo.
We took a ferry across (everyone on the ferry noted how well-behaved and handsome Porter is), and made our way to the top of the rocky cliffy mountain.
Porter stopped at all of the overlooks and took in the view as the sweet wind blew in his face:
I love that he does that.
He waited patiently for me as I climbed the fire tower.
The views were awesome:
And then we made our way down, stopping to have a snack along the shores of Moosehead Lake.
We stepped on the ferry home, and a whole new group of people loved on Porter. One pointed out to me that he was a very special dog.
“I know, thanks.” I said with a very tight throat and tears stinging the corners of my eyes.
Watching Porter appreciate all of these things with gusto (and no worries about the future) reminded me – that was exactly what I needed to be doing right now.
I am no less heartbroken, trust me. But I can’t control what is going to happen, I can only control how I handle each moment as it comes. I plan on grabbing onto each one that we have and living it to the fullest.
We really should be doing that anyway, because in the end, we are all on borrowed time.
Thank you everyone for your support and kindness. Porter is doing well and we are going to be starting Palladia this week – this is a drug that could shrink the tumor, keep him comfortable, and maybe buy us some precious time. Our primary concern is his quality of life, so as long as he is happy and comfortable, we will do treatments.
Thanks for reading!
Mandy & Porter