An Uncertain Path

This journey began with a seemingly certain diagnosis.  The phone rang in February, and the news on the end of the line was grim.  That very day Beauford’s bucket list began. It started with a meaty Benko bone given to him by a stranger while I processed what was deemed fact, Beauford had a terminal mass.

What’s followed since has been a path of uncertainty. There’s been trips, turns, and curves as we travel on a now very uncertain road.  The initial radiologist that read Beauford’s very first ultrasound was certain there was nothing we could do.   He insisted that the oncologists would tell me otherwise, but advised my veterinarian that I should be prepared for the worst.   Only months later he would change his tune, and begin to doubt his earlier diagnosis.

At last check (summer 2016) Beauford’s mass had known grown as expected, nor had it spread.  The only change noted was bilateral enlargement of the adrenal glands, which lead him to believe that Beauford has Cushing’s Disease and not cancer.   To get this news was of course good, but it was only one expert’s opinion.   It was the opinion of a radiologist that did not have the benefit of viewing the CT Scan.

Oncology at the OVC never seemed to waffle from their view.  You see, based on Beauford’s age (almost 7), breed (Golden Retriever) and location of the mass (separate from the adrenal gland) they still very much believed that this mass was malignant.   After a lengthily conversation I was frustrated, confused, and left with my own mass of uncertainty and doubt.

So, does Beauford have terminal cancer or doesn’t he?  I have experts in Oncology that stand by their diagnosis that say he does, and a radiologist that now believes he doesn’t.  Without a biopsy (which is life threatening and a risk I will not take) we can’t know for sure.  Does he have years to live, months to live, weeks to live, or days?   Truth be told, no one knows.

On March the 1st we were given an estimate of 6 to 8 months together.    I made a promise to Beauford (and to myself) that we would make the most of our time together.   I vowed I would treasure every day, and try to make each one a little bit special.  Our bucket list began and we’ve done so much that it’s hard for me to keep track without checking his Instagram feed!

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We have now surpassed the eight month mark, and I have begun to plan for the holidays.  I have Santa pictures lined up, a holiday party, and am even tinkering with the idea of a 7th birthday party for him.  With each addition to the calendar, I pause, reflect, and hope that he is still here and feeling well to celebrate. I am not being morbid, but mindful of how quickly things can change, and how unpredictable cancer can be.

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In these last few months (Starting in September) I have noticed him starting (at times) to really slow down.  Beauford’s not afraid to express when he’s had enough and wants to be home resting.  Nights are tough, and sometimes very unsettled.   Some days are better than others energy wise. There are moments where he has gigantic bursts of energy and you’d never guess there’s anything wrong with him.  Then there are moments like today, where he walks slowly behind me and isn’t as into being out and about for longer periods of time. These moments are humbling, and they’re a reminder that despite the uncertainty that surrounds what this mass is, it’s still something to be concerned about.

I write this with my golden guy sitting next to me snuggling.  We took him out today for a few hours and he’s pretty exhausted.  He has yet to ask for his dinner; he’d rather sleep instead.  But when he stirs, there will be a home cooked meal ready and waiting to fill his now bigger belly.

So, yes, we’re 8 months and counting.  We’re treasuring each day, and Beauford has a packed social calendar (with plenty of time set aside for rest).  I am so looking forward to a holiday season filled with lots of Santa photos, adventures, treats, and holiday parties.  We are getting a little festive early this year since this will be our best holiday yet!