Updated: Jun 24
It’s been a week since the vet said “aggressive malignant melanoma.” Quite the roller-coaster ride of a week!
Not knowing how long I get to have with my favorite friend, I decided to skip my weekly bike ride last weekend and make it a Gonzo weekend. I took him on a couple of easy hikes and we hiked 5 miles of Mosquito Mountain (not its real name) on Saturday and 5 miles on Sunday.
Gonzo enjoyed getting to explore the forest and hunt woodland creatures, but he was noticeably slower than normal and seemed to fight to breathe at times. He struggled the most after a wily chipmunk would outwit him in his game of chase.
Each time he battled for air, he looked like he was trying to hide it from me. “Nothing to see here, mom! I’m breathing just fine. You’re imagining things again.”
By the end of our Sunday hike, Gonzo seemed to have a hard time keeping up with me and it was breaking my heart…especially since I was going pretty slow. I have no idea how close we are to the end, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be earlier than the vet’s estimated 4-5 months. That estimate was starting to look generous.
Monday and Tuesday, Gonzo seemed to be going downhill fast. Really fast. My roommate said he stayed in bed all day and did not seem to have much interest in anything. I was not greeted with my beloved Happy Dance, but he at least did eventually drag himself out of bed to welcome me home from work.
I still took him for his daily walk, which usually starts with a sprint to see who can make it to the road first. I normally “let” him win, but this time he was trying so hard to keep up. His eyes pleaded with me to not give up on him and to still play the game, even though he was slowing down.
On Monday and Tuesday, Gonzo had me worried that he was leaving me way quicker than I could possibly be prepared for.
On Tuesday night, the fireflies were out in full, magnificent, firefly force again. “What did it mean?” I wondered. The thought crossed my mind that maybe they were there to send him off with a grand “goodbye.”
I hugged Gonzo super tight that night, as my tears soaked his fur. I wasn’t ready to let go.
I woke up Wednesday morning to a, seemingly, new dog! Gonzo was full of energy and ready to play. He was ready to race me again on our morning sprint and I got to “let” him win again.
When I got home from work, The Happy Dance was all queued up for me and Gonzo performed it fabulously. We went for our walk and he had more energy than I’d seen since before his surgery. The chipmunks were on high alert, as the mighty hunter was back in full force.
Was the latest firefly display a celebration of a recovery to come? It sure seemed so.
Today, Thursday, was just as fantastic! The spark had returned to Gonzo’s eyes and he was bouncing around, excited to go out, excited to eat, excited to be alive. He was like a puppy again! (I didn’t know him as a puppy, so I really can’t say that.) After work, Gonzo and I ran our fastest paced mile so far this year! He kicked my butt!!!
I spoke with Gonzo’s vet today and told her my plans. I don’t think she was happy with me and maybe thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t care. I realize I’m cautiously experimenting and if the experiment works, fantastic! If it doesn’t, then at least I haven’t tortured my dog with chemo, radiation, and surgery in his final days. If these ARE his final days, we’re going to enjoy them.
The other interesting thing I have noticed is that, a few days after his surgery, I saw a gray bubble where his wound was. It looked like the tumor was re-emerging just days after being removed. My heart sunk when I saw it and I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist.
Gonzo has been pretty protective about not wanting me to look at “the thing” but let meget a glimpse today. It’s gone! There is NOTHING on his gum where the tumor was. You can’t even tell he recently had surgery.
I don’t know how long Gonzo has, but for now, he is happy and feeling great. His vet is aware of my plan and readily agreed to prescribe happy pills for him if the cancer takes over and we need to manage pain. I am grateful for that, but feel hopeful with the results I’ve seen over the last two days.
Tonight, as I began to write this, there was a firefly showing off his glowing butt on my bedroom window screen. I’m taking it as a sign of good things to come…no matter what happens!