So There’s a Lump

Recently I found a mass on Bella’s stomach. She was nine years old in July, so I wasn’t terribly surprised by this; she is after all reaching an age at which medical issues frequently begin to emerge. Still it was an unpleasant reminder of mortality, of how limited her time on this planet is. I look at her, and I see such energy and youth. In my mind, Bella will always be an eternal puppy. The way she whines when she wants something, snuggles up to me when I need a hug, and broadcasts her every thought without hesitation reminds me of nothing so much as a hot-headed, sweet, indomitable child. I speak only from observation on this point, since I have no biological children of my own, but the point remains. She’s my kid, and she may have cancer.

In response to this, I’ve done my best to remain level-headed. Sometimes I think I’m too level-headed in these kinds of situations, since a casual observer could easily assume that I don’t care. On the contrary, I care so much that if I allow my feelings to get carried away I’ll probably become useless, terrified and inert. On the other hand, if I keep my emotions to a minimum, I can maintain some clarity of thought and pursue a rational course of action. Faced with this dilemma, I choose the latter option, even though some people may draw erroneous conclusions from it.

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So I’ve kept my cool and made a plan to do what I can without resorting to potentially lethal treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation-therapy. I’m making sure that Bella eats as much organic nonprocessed food as possible, that she drinks filtered water, that she gets a daily walk, that she has plenty of fresh air and sunshine, that she avoids environmental toxins, and that she has a good life for as much of it as remains. I know there are medical treatments available, but each of those entails a risk which is, in all probability, greater than the risk of letting her live a healthy life without medical intervention.

There’s one part I haven’t mentioned. Her sister Abby (a mixed German shepherd and my first canine companion) died of lung cancer in 2013 after developing a similar mass on her abdomen. The length of time between when the mass developed and when she died was approximately four years. For the record, I hope Bella lives another twenty years–which I’m fairly certain is biologically impossible. But I have to face the fact that she may live for a much shorter length of time. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s reality. And in the face of that, the best I can do is to love her and make sure she has a good life for as long as she has left.

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24 thoughts on “So There’s a Lump

  1. rivertoprambles September 7, 2016 / 9:41 am

    You’re making good, caring choices for your dog. Best wishes!

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:00 am

      Thank you so much. I do my best. Have a great upcoming week. 👍

  2. shelterlifephotography September 7, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    thinking of you. just know that dogs can get fatty tumors that do not mean anything. this happens quite a bit in old age. if you can get your fingers around the lump – and it isn’t “attached”- that is a very good sign. definitely bring her to the vet if it oozes or feels very attached.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:05 am

      Thank you for that information. It seems to have gone down for now, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled. And I’ll certainly keep in mind what you said in the future. I appreciate your concern. 👍

  3. wildernesslifeblog September 8, 2016 / 8:48 am

    Wauw Mark…. just wauw. I have an 11-year old girl myself. At this age she gets lumps and bumps everywhere… most of them harmless of course but each one of them scares the hell out of me. /Rebecca

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:08 am

      Yeah, it was sobering when I felt that bump. Bella’s been so healthy for so long, it was almost unthinkable that something potentially cancerous could show up on her. Still it’s good to know I’m not the only one dealing with this. Thank you for your kind input, Rebecca.

  4. eliwoodbine September 8, 2016 / 11:07 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about the sad news. As humans we rarely come to realise what we have until it’s gone, one can look at your situation as a little prompt to be grateful for the beautiful little being you’ve had by your side for the last 9 years. Either way, I’m so sorry to hear the bad news. Eli.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:13 am

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Eli. Fortunately the mass seems to have dissipated for the time being, so I’m hoping it was only a momentary allergic reaction. Still I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled in the future. And you’re very right that it’s easy to take for granted those others who make our lives worthwhile. I’ve certainly been reminded of that by this experience.

      • eliwoodbine September 12, 2016 / 11:07 am

        That’s great news Mark! 🙂 sometimes life gives us a little scare to remind us of what we should feel lucky for. Stay in touch. Eli

  5. cathysrealcountrygardencom September 8, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    Oh that must be hard. We love our pets like family . The only difference is we are allowed to end their suffering when it becomes too much for them and in that wonderful way we can love them more. Best wishes, stay strong.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:16 am

      Thank you, Cathy. Fortunately the lump appears to have gone down, so I’m hoping it was only a momentary allergic response. There’s much to be said for easing the suffering of our loved ones, but I hope in Bella’s case that won’t be necessary for years to come.

  6. philosophermouseofthehedge September 10, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    Quality of life is all that matters. It’s impossible to explain pain inflicted on one who you promised to cherish and protect. Great last sentence

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:23 am

      Yeah, I try to give Bella the best quality of life possible. Every day with her is precious. Thank you for your kind response.

  7. Laura Elizabeth September 11, 2016 / 3:46 am

    it is amazing how attached to animals we people can become, isn’t it? They endear themselves to us so easily.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:27 am

      You’re very right. Bella was actually a surprise “gift” from a friend, and I wasn’t super-excited at the time. But she’s definitely grown on me with time. Now I don’t know what I’d do without her.

  8. lori graydon September 11, 2016 / 2:40 pm

    Hello Mark
    I understand exactly what you are going through. I don’t have any children but I’ve always had animals who are as important to me as a human child is to a parent. Maybe the lump is a fat lump? They seemed to come in all shapes and sizes and on different parts of my dogs bodies. The first time I found one I was scared. But if any of them had cancer I doubt I would have gone the chemo/radiation routes. I’ve had friends and family members who have had cancer themselves and the treatments only made their last days horrible in most cases. You seem to be doing the best you can for Bella and that’s what counts. She’s comfortable and happy which is the most we can do for our “kids”.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:31 am

      Thank you so much, Lori. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one going through this experience. It’s been something of an eye-opener for sure. Thankfully the lump seems to have diminished in size so that it can barely be felt. I’m hoping it was only a momentary allergic response, but I’ll certainly extra-vigilant in the future. I hope your animals are doing well and enjoying the end of summer. 👍

  9. Savithri SENANAYAKE September 13, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    So sorry to hear about Bella. Hope she doesnt suffer with pain. I just heard from a youn fruend xho is just 27 years old and the found a cancer in her womb. So I have been praying for her. So I xill pray for your bella too.

    It s a sad new day for me. Take care have a
    nice day best wishes Savi t

    • Mark Miles September 19, 2016 / 3:19 am

      Thank you so much, Savi. The lump seems to have dissipated for now, so I’m hoping it was only an allergic reaction. But I’ll be extra careful from now on. Very sorry to hear about your friend. I hope she makes a full recovery for what it’s worth. 👍

  10. thereisnosanityclause September 17, 2016 / 12:21 pm

    Oh I feel for what you are going through. After being told erroneously that my 14 year old golden mix,Zush, had cancer last summer and then finding out she is ok, I also have gone organic with her. Like you, I tell her she can never leave me because she knows all my secrets…*** hugs***

    • Mark Miles September 19, 2016 / 3:26 am

      Thank you very much. I know that going organic won’t guarantee her a long and healthy life, but it’ll increase her odds at least. Sorry to hear that your dog went through the same, but I’m glad to hear she made a full recovery. 👍

  11. beeshoneyy September 27, 2016 / 8:44 am

    I wish the very best for your little baby! May she live the happiest life of them all. Sounds like you’re doing a great job and she is lucky to have you 🙌🏼

    • Mark Miles October 3, 2016 / 4:11 am

      Thank you very much! I appreciate your kind words, and I certainly do my best.

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