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Gonzo Gets Good News and Bad News and Confusing News

“What do I do?”


What a stupid question! It’s stupid because I don’t have an answer. Not even close.


Gonzo’s tumor has been renamed, once again, to Tex. “Tex” because it has grown to the size of Texas almost. I’m exaggerating, but the thing is huge.


He had it removed once in June and, sometime around the end of July, Tex came back with a vengeance.


When the biopsy results from the first surgery came back, I was told it was “Aggressive Malignant Melanoma” and that it had probably already spread to his lungs, lymph nodes, and major organs. That’s what they had always seen with that type of tumor. I was also told Gonzo had “approximately 147 days to live.” Approximately?


If my math is correct, and quite often it is not, that would have put Gonzo’s expiration date at November 5, 2022. That’s the only way I can phrase it without crying. Expiration date.


As Tex grew and grew, Gonzo and I had lots of conversations about how much he has blessed my life with his adorable, sensitive, loving, obedient companionship…especially during some of my most painful times.


Gonzo has been quite the comfort dog and, for the past six years, it’s really just been Gonzo, God, and me. Or a dyslexic’s dream…Dog & God were what held me together.


One of our best conversations was at the cemetery where we would do sprints after I would get off work. (It sounds strange, but cemeteries are great for dog reactive/aggressive dogs. NO ONE walks their dog in a cemetery so it’s like a dog park for one.)


Anyway, I was there with Gonzo, praying about how I was feeling like I was being pulled in a million different directions and not accomplishing anything in any of them…like my feet had been encased in cement blocks and the next right step felt impossible.


I was asking God, “What are we doing with this? Where are we going with that? What do You want me doing here, and there? What’s the plan and what am I supposed to be doing in all these different areas where I just feel stuck?” I wanted direction, but what I heard was this:


“Look around you. Where are you? Who are you with? Do you see what’s in front of you? Do you see the gifts, the treasures I’ve placed right in front of you while you’re concerned with all these other things?"


"For now, focus on those. I’ve got everything else and it will all happen in My timing and in My will. I place treasures all along the way for you. Your job is to find them and take notice and enjoy them.”


I looked around and the Fall colors suddenly captivated my attention and imagination. The view was breathtaking and a gorgeous sunset was beginning to form. I was with my sweet best friend, Gonzo, and who knew how much longer I would get to do that. With my mind on my performance, or lack thereof, I had not noticed the incredible treasures right in front of my face.



With blinders off and new sight, this trip to the cemetery turned into one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had with Gonzo. We played and sprinted and laughed and cried. Well, I cried and he licked my tears.


We laid in the grass and took in our surroundings. I thanked him for all the times he’s rescued me and for all the great stories we have. I thanked him for all the lessons he’s taught me about the way God loves us.


We talked about how glorious the leaves are as they are dying and how death can be beautiful. I told him I expect him to be the first one to greet me in Heaven and he’d better do his happy dance for me when I get there…and we watched the sun go down majestically. Another beautiful ending.



During the past few months I assumed cancer was spreading all throughout his body, as his original vet had assumed. Gonzo has lots of vets now. His holistic vet has been supportive of all the crazy supplements I have him on and has added a few to his routine. As of this writing, Gonzo is on 30+ anti-cancer supplements and his mom is an easy target to buy anything natural that has any cancer-fighting property.


Seriously, if I hear “anti-cancer” Gonzo gets it. I guess it’s why cancer is such a lucrative disease. It’s money spent based on the emotions of trying to save someone you love and overwhelming guilt if you don’t. There is way too much money in that for there to ever be a “cure.”


As Tex, continued to grow, it got infected and putrid. This thing was so disgusting. It literally smelled like sour feces and I could smell Tex from across the room. All the vets said that’s just what these tumors do and there’s nothing we can do about it. It was oozing blood and pus.


Gonzo and I had recently moved to a wonderful home where he was the main focus…like a doggie hospice. We could not have asked for a more caring and compassionate environment, but the smell was so bad that I just knew they were going to ask us to leave. It smelled like death, but worse.


Our new roommates never said a thing about the smell and were beyond kind and loving! They were angels. I was still embarrassed, though, and one day really cried out to Jesus to clear out the infection. That night, one of my roommates gave me some Olive Leaf Extract she’d had for a while and never used. I looked it up and found it was an antibiotic that had anti-cancer properties.


I started using it on Tex and the infection subsided. The smell went away and we were never kicked out. Praise Jesus!!! (Yes, I have prayed for the tumor to shrivel up and die and that hasn’t happened yet. There is a reason, even if I don’t know what it is, yet.)


Other than growing Tex, Gonzo seems super healthy so I had to wonder if maybe the cancer hadn’t followed its normal path and maybe hadn’t spread everywhere, like the vets thought it probably had. With Tex growing larger, I needed to look at what options were available for possibly having it removed again.


This time I would have to take him to an Oncologist and the first appointment I could get was 2 months out. By the time we made it to the appointment, Tex was consistently oozing blood and I had to follow Gonzo around with tissues to wipe up his blood drool. Also at this time, Gonzo was kicking my butt running on hikes. He seemed so healthy!!


We finally visited the oncologist on November 23, 2022.


Dr. Oncologist was very kind in a matter-of-fact manner that I greatly appreciated. He also assumed that the cancer had already spread to Gonzo’s lungs, lymph nodes, and major organs and for me to find out would cost about $1100.


If the cancer had not spread, we could remove the tumor and part of Gonzo’s mandible (jaw bone and some teeth) depending on how far Tex had his claws into Gonzo’s jaw…for about $8,000 and with a potential survival time of about 6-9 more months. $8,000 that I don’t have.


Could you imagine having part of your jaw removed? According to Dr. Oncologist, your tongue would be hanging out of the side of your mouth and I’m not sure how cute you would be trying to chew your food.


Dr. Oncologist was concerned about how deep Tex probably had his talons into Gonzo. He said it looked like the claws probably ran past the midline of the pallet and they could not cut anything out past the midline. We couldn’t know without X-rays.


So, I decided to see if all the vets had been right about the cancer already being in Gonzo’s lungs, lymph nodes, and major organs. If so, that would make things easy and we’d just ride out the process. I could also know how deep the talons were into Gonzo’s jaw. I requested the tests…the $1100 worth of tests.


Guess what! There is no cancer anywhere else and Tex’s talons aren’t as far deep in as the oncologist had expected!!


This should be good news, right?


It is, but now I don’t know what to do.


If I was to have it removed (and part of his jaw) I would have to find a way to come up with that money and it would theoretically only prolong his life by 6-9 months.


Here’s where heart and mind and emotions and logic fight it out. Logically, it makes no sense to spend that kind of money (that I don’t have) to give him 6-9 months that might not be worth it if half his jaw is missing. (I might be exaggerating, but I don’t know exactly.)


However, he is still enjoying life and having fun on hikes and doing cemetery sprints.


The crappiest part of all of this is that I’m being nudged to make a decision to end his life, if I don’t choose to have part of his jaw removed. (To be fair, it was presented to me in a much more respectful and pleasant manner than that.)


I’m not there, yet. He’s not there, yet. We will still hike and play until he decides he’s done. I will keep cleaning up blood/drool until he decides he’s done. I will keep fighting for him until he decides he’s done.


Since my God has always provided enough for all of my needs, maybe this surgery is not something we need. I know I wouldn’t want half my jaw to go missing.


So, what do I do when I don’t know what to do? I talk to Jesus. I ask Him because the plan has always been His anyway.


I thanked Him for the crap. Thanked Him for the time I’ve had and for the struggles Gonzo and I have endured. I thanked Him for the uncertainty and that I would get to continue sacrificing time, energy, and money towards someone I love so very much.


“What do I do, God?”


“Keep doing what you’re doing.”


“What about surgery? Do I put Gonzo through that? If so, where does the money come from?”


“Haven’t I always given you enough for what you need? If you don’t have enough, you don’t need it.”


None of this really clicked until the next day. I had to sleep on it and pray on it.


Suddenly, I realized I had been focusing on the wrong thing. I had been so small minded and only thinking of whether or not we could do surgery to alleviate the uncomfortableness Gonzo had to be feeling with Tex riding sidesaddle on his mouth.


What hit me the next day is that EVERYTHING all the vets expected and said would happen had not. All the vets expected Gonzo’s body to be riddled with this evil that was in his mouth and it wasn’t. Gonzo has flown past his death date and is still healthy, aside from Tex. Even Tex has not anchored itself as deeply in as the Oncologist had expected.


Could this mean what I am doing is working? Even though Tex is growing larger on the outside, is it possible that it is being suppressed enough to not invade the rest of Gonzo? Is it possible that if I continue with the ridiculous amount of vitamins and supplements Gonzo is on, that Tex could eventually be fought off completely?


Dr. Oncologist gave me all the options with the caveat that it might not make sense to do surgery if it only gave Gonzo another 6-9 months. He also said that if I decided not to do the surgery, I should put Gonzo down for his sake.


No.


After praying and processing through writing this out, I have decided to keep Gonzo on the 30+ supplements and continue to add to that as I learn more. I have decided I will not put him through a disfiguring surgery. I have decided we are going to live life and enjoy it and maybe, just maybe, Gonzo will get to be an example of successfully fighting and winning against a disease “dogs don’t recover from.”


(Gonzo's ride home from the Oncologist. He was not pleased with me.)

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