This will be the hardest blog post to write to date. And given how this blog started that’s saying a lot. There is no easy way to say this, and I’ve been avoiding it for weeks now, so I’ll just have to say it, because I think you all will want to know.
Seamus was again diagnosed with cancer. This time it’s an advanced stage melanoma and he has several inoperable tumors in his lungs. We found out just before I left for India (and believe me, I almost didn’t get on the plane). We had noticed that Seamus’s breathing was getting a bit shallow and he had slightly (he’s still Seamus, so this is a relative term) less energy. We took him to our regular vet and tests showed reason for serious concern. We were referred to an oncologist and back we went ….Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City. The place I took Seamus when he was first diagnosed 8 years ago. Only the appointment we were able to get was at 11a.m on February 14th (right, Valentine’s Day…at least it wasn’t Christmas). My flight to India left at 11:50a.m. After much discussion, Chris dropped me at the airport and took Seamus to see the oncologist. He called me with the diagnosis as I stood in line to board the plane. Seamus has perhaps only 2 to 4 months to live. If he responds to chemo, maybe 6 months. There is nothing else they can do.
I suppose one day I’ll discuss my trip to India. As you might imagine, I was not in a good state of mind when I arrived, and the jet lag, living conditions, culture shock and weather (it was cold and raining) did not help. But I’m home now and I can tell you that Seamus is still Seamus– he has less energy and has lost some weight, but he still has a healthy appetite and howls for his food (and at the gardeners), cuddles and demands attention. Chris and I both took him for his second chemo appointment today and I got to hear the diagnosis myself. Then we took Seamus to a holistic pet nutritionist.
While Seamus dined on a lunch of wild pheasant, organic kale, spinach and pumpkin seed, we discussed options for making Seamus’s quality of life as good as can be for the time he has left. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I know what it’s like to be on chemo, we will likely discontinue the chemo and instead use holistic methods including one heck of a nice diet. The holistic practitioner agrees that Seamus can’t be cured–it’s all an issue of quality of life for as long as we can get. I’m hoping for the 6 months, but whatever it is, I won’t let Seamus suffer. I want the best for him and I just don’t think chemo is it. If I had only 6 months left, I darn sure wouldn’t spend it on chemo.
When I was in India, I had this moment of stillness…of peace. And it was this moment:
We arrived at the Taj Mahal at sunrise, but so did a huge crowd of people. I stood at the entrance lost in the bustle, uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Our guide must have noticed because he took me by the arm, moved through the crowd and cleared a space for me. He said, “Kneel down here to take your photo.” When I knelt down, this is what I saw. That’s not someone’s pet. That’s a wild dog (they’re everywhere in India). And there he was peacefully, naturally just drinking from the pond utterly undisturbed by anyone…at the 7th wonder of the world. I wondered if everyone else was seeing this or if it was just me…my own little perfect moment. And for the first time (we’d been there nearly a week at this point), I felt a sense of calm. Of peace. I felt as though this was a message somehow–not a big “Seamus will live” message, because, I know, he won’t. But there was some meaning. The was a reason I saw this, when so many others didn’t. And now I think it’s this… nature will take it’s course and all we can do is make it as peaceful as possible. I can’t interfere or change things and running back and forth to Los Angeles for injections of poison and dosages of steroids is not a peaceful or natural act. Instead, we’re going to enjoy the moments we have. For as long as we have them.
There’s a much harder blog post to write in my future, but we’re not there yet. We’re here now. And we’re good. But I wanted you all to know what was going on, because I know so many of you have followed us on our journey and cheered us on. We still need that cheering.