Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2013

Tails of Love: Dogs with Cancer

Photos by Linnell Chang

Cancer does not discriminate. It strikes the young and the old, the tall and the short, males and females, and even Cockapoos. When my dog Romeo developed chondrosarcoma, I became an involuntary member of a group of owners whose pets have cancer. Within that group, I joined a subgroup, whose members have opted to try to save their pets. We are the ones who stubbornly maintain hope, who cannot bear the thought of euthanizing our beloved “family member,” and who are willing to sacrifice much in order to save our pets.

By the end of this week, I will have driven Romeo, for 19 days straight, to a veterinary hospital half-an-hour away from home, waited one to two hours each day during his treatment, and then returned home. While sitting and waiting for Romeo, I often chat with the parents of some of the other cancer “regulars.” There’s a certain camaraderie in this group, because we relate to the tough decisions we each had to make — the kinds of decisions that make us look crazy to other people. Look at the faces of these dogs. Look into their soulful eyes and then put yourself in the shoes of their owners. What would you do?

Shadow is a bright-eyed 12-year-old Rat Terrier. Looking at him you would never guess that he has an inoperable brain tumor. Unlike my Romeo, who has a good prognosis, Shadow has no prognosis. With or without treatment he may only have 6-8 weeks to live. Shadow sits on his dad’s lap in the waiting room. As Laurie, the radiation therapist, walks up to Shadow, he turns around and licks his dad’s face as if to say goodbye. Laurie takes Shadow away, but not before his dad can give her a plastic bag filled with Shadow’s favorite treats. One morning Shadow’s dad and I were discussing the high cost of cancer treatment and he told me how guilty he would feel, if he spent the money that could save his dog on on anything else. “I couldn’t sit on a beach somewhere, knowing that the money could have been spent trying to save my best friend.”

Joey, a rambunctious 4-year-old Black Lab, walks happily into the waiting room. Oozing charm, he’s a popular guy as he greets everyone he passes along the way. Joey wears a double barrier, a large cushioned “donut” and a flexible “cone of shame” around his neck, to prevent him from reaching a shaved and sutured area on his hip. Joey had an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma removed from that area and is undergoing radiation treatment. Chemotherapy may loom in his future, as well. Without any treatment, Joey was given a prognosis of 3 to 6 months. Whenever Laurie comes to take him back, Joey stands on his hind legs and puts his front paws squarely on her shoulders, so they can “dance.”

Rocky, an 8½-year-old Bullmastiff lies on the floor panting. He’s clearly not enjoying the hot day and his demeanor shows it. He knows what’s important, though, because sometimes in the middle of a pant, he stops to lick the floor. This big cuddly guy has insulinoma, a malignant neoplasm that grows on the pancreas. Ever since the surgery to remove a tumor-infested portion of Rocky’s pancreas, his dad has struggled with the serious issues of Rocky’s fluctuating insulin levels.

Everyone who sees Molly’s sweet grey and white face, wants to approach and pet her. This 15-year-old poodle mix had surgery to remove a cancerous mammary tumor and is now undergoing chemotherapy. Even though Molly’s mom has a brand new grandbaby and a 92-year-old father in need of surgery, Molly is still getting the best care possible.

Sophie, a 9½-year-old flat-coated retriever mix, hobbles into the waiting room. After having her right front leg amputated, Sophie is learning to walk again. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma, one of the deadliest bone cancers, Sophie is undergoing chemotherapy and will have additional diagnostic tests to see if the cancer has spread. Sophie’s mom rescued her once before and is now trying to rescue her again.

Wearing a pink harness and a scarf adorned with pink cancer ribbons, little Lillie snuggles in her mom’s arms. This shy 10-year-old Miniature Dachsund is here for a post-treatment check-up. Her parents live far away, so during her three-week radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, she stayed at the hospital. Her parents missed her so much that they drove for hours to pick her up every weekend. Everyone had big smiles on their faces today as Lillie left the hospital, 1-year cancer free.

As sad as it’s been to see these dogs fight cancer, I feel a sense of hope. The amount of hope, love, and trust in the waiting room is palpable. Here, I know I am not alone. There are other pet parents sacrificing more than me to give their pets the necessary treatment. No matter what happens to Romeo and the other dogs, I know that all who are involved  — the devoted owners and the hospital’s caring and highly-trained staff  — have done all that we could do.

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about cancer in pets and to learn how you can help, check out these sites:
Morris Animal Foundation
Veterinary Cancer Society
Pet Cancer Awareness

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Young Hummingbird Feeding

Photo by Linnell Chang

There’s quite a buzz around the water cooler these days, except in this case the water cooler is a hummingbird feeder. With their fuzzy-looking baby feathers and miniscule stature, young hummingbirds buzz around the feeder competing for food. Some of them are so small that they cannot stand on the perch to feed. If they did, they would be unable to reach the nectar. Most of the adult hummingbirds tolerate the young birds and some even feed simultaneously with the little ones. But like the human species, greed also exists in the bird world and some of the older birds bully and chase away the young ones. Watching the hummingbirds interact reminds me of all the times I told my children, “Please set a good example and share.”

#1 – Mosaic Marvels

Mosaic art by Laura Rendlen

Winters Beauty by artist Laura Rendlen

After viewing the incredible art at the Vatican several years ago, I left with a greater appreciation for the pain-staking art of mosaics. Mosaics may be an ancient art form, but they’re just as beautiful now in modern art installations. I’d like to share with you these 10 stunning examples of modern-day mosaic art.

#2 – Frisée or Mâche?
In my last post, I wrote about growing my own lettuce and serving a very fresh salad for dinner. Also growing in my yard are arugula, kale, and chard. Not bad for a container gardener with a brown thumb! With a variety of salad greens available for us to grow in our yards, buy at markets, or eat in restaurants, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Here’s a Visual Guide to Salad Greens, courtesy of Epicurious, to help you identify them, learn about their characteristics, and link to recipes using them.

#3 – More Great Ideas
Storing wrapping paper Some of the ideas in Even More Simple Ideas that Are Borderline Genius have been around the block a couple of times. However, there are a several of them that had me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I particularly like the idea of using wired shelving to hold rolls of wrapping paper vertically. Check out these ideas, because maybe there’s one that will make your life easier.

#4 – Furoshiki
Furoshiki are Japanese wrapping cloths. They serve to transport, protect, and/or decorate. Since Furoshiki are reusable, they prevent product waste, especially in the case of wrapping paper and bags. There are different ways to tie Furoshiki, depending on an item’s shape and size. Click here to learn about Furoshiki wrapping techniques.

#5 – Shared Words, Shared Worlds
I share this poem, written by Arab-American poet, songwriter, and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye, with the hope that you will share it with others. Its message is clear: that there’s so much good in a little kindness and that living in a “shared world” is a much better world.

Shared Words, Shared Worlds
–by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Have a great weekend!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: