How I Spent My Summer Vacation

IMG_2753There is something weird about booking a hotel in your hometown. It’s like going on vacation where you once lived. That’s how I’m feeling about staying at the Ramada Inn, my home away from home for the next month. Frumpy, even when it was newly built in 1986, the Ramada’s decor and design feel tired and sad after 30 years of wear and tear. So I felt a bit depressed when I arrived last Monday evening and opened the door to my musty room.


Teresa from the front desk brings Chuckles treats

But I am grateful for the Ramada. The hotel is located within walking distance to the NCSU vet school where Chuckles is receiving his radiation treatments. They also let your dog stay with you at a discounted room rate. All the staff are very friendly and seem to love dogs, another plus.

While unloading the car I met some fellow guests, Jeff and Laura, and their dog Cayden, an adorable Welsh Corgi. It was Cayden’s last week of his 4 week radiation protocol, the same treatment that Chuckles will be receiving. He looked great and Jeff and Laura said that he had tolerated the radiation quite well with no major side effects. Our conversation left me feeling encouraged for what lies ahead for me and Chuckles.


Laura and Jeff from Tennessee with their dog Cayden

On Tuesday morning we arrived at the Oncology Department for Chuckles’s MRI and CT scan. The very first person I saw when we walked in was Patti, a volunteer at the vet school who I’d met 4 years ago when Chuckles was a patient there for a different medical problem. Patti recognized us immediately and we had a sweet reunion.


Patti in her red volunteer jacket chats with a cat owner

As a volunteer, Patti walks the hallways of the hospital chatting with waiting and anxious pet owners, consoling and helping wherever she can. She is a calm and comforting presence who has herself been a client and can relate with the emotional train wreck of having a beloved pet who is very sick.

Good news with the MRI showed that the blood surrounding Chuckles’s tumor had all been reabsorbed. He received his first dose of radiation on Thursday and a second dose on Friday without incident. Unfortunately he must be anesthetized each time, as a dog cannot remain perfectly still for the radiation. To save  time, an IV port for the anesthesia was put in his back leg for subsequent treatments.


Chuckles outside Oncology

All of the doctors and technicians are very kind and compassionate, not to mention board certified in their fields of medicine. I know that Chuckles is in the best of hands receiving the best of care.


Just a few of the portraits

The walls of the waiting area and back hallways of the Oncology ward are lined with portraits of cats and dogs who have been successfully treated as cancer patients there. The hope is that they will encourage others to not lose hope. Their sweet faces are testimony to their resilience and to the love and dedication of their owners. A love that never dies.



When You Just Can’t Do Nothing

Chuckles is going to receive radiation treatments for his brain tumor. On Tuesday of next week, he will have another MRI and a CT scan to map the tumor for the radiation. If all goes well, they will begin treatment within 2 days. The protocol is for a total of 20 treatments,  given once daily, Monday through Friday for 4 weeks. Each one hits the tumor with a small dose of radiation. 

After the 2 hour consult on Monday with his radiation oncologist, I left feeling overwhelmed. So much to absorb and consider.  But by Wednesday I made the decision to go forward with treatment. When I looked at him lying in his bed, subdued but still so full of life, I knew that I could not do nothing. I realized that while there is risk, there is also a chance that he could have a good outcome. If I do nothing, there is no chance at all.

Chuckles at C.F.'s House

Who could say no to that face?

Even though it was a big relief just to make the decision, we’ve got a long way to go yet. The radiation could make the tumor bleed again. He could have a seisure. Each treatment requires him to be anesthetized, which is a risk in and of itself. But it’s like reading the side effects of your medication. If you worry about each one you’ll probably never take it! Once I stopped focusing on what could go wrong and started focusing on what could go right, the way became clear.

Then too, I know myself, and I know that I would regret not doing all that I could within reason. Living with regret is a lot tougher, and lingers longer, than accepting a loss. All of my friends have been so supportive of my decision and tell me that I am doing the right thing. And in my heart I know it’s true. IMG_2486