The ending of 2014 and start of 2015 have been both amazing and bittersweet for the husBen and I. One thing that sticks out the most is Curie’s diagnosis of cancer. Curie and Voltaire, our two mini schnauzers, have been with us since June and September 2010. They’ve pretty much been the love and fluff of our lives, opening our unexperienced eyes to all sorts of adventures and “Oh god, is this what it’s like to have kids?!” kind of moments.
We noticed a change in Curie’s movement and energy back in November. Just to preface, she is without a doubt the most spunky and OUTSPOKEN dog I’ve ever met with an appetite that rivals my own. With this grandma policing the grounds, not a single rice kernel or Dorito chip gets dropped unnoticed. Curie’s nose always appears out of nowhere only to touch the spot and…just like a Dyson…it’s gone. Sometimes even her bowl of kibbles is not enough. Voltaire, our more submissive boy, is always happy to move aside and let his sister finish his bowl (a lot like how I jab my fork at Ben’s bowl of panang curry while he’s still eating…) Anyways, in November we noticed she was eating less and less. Her movements were getting slower and, in December, there was a scary fluctuation in her body where one second she seemed find and then all of a sudden she would be hobbling in pain, practically immobile. Her entire belly was large and tender and we could no longer touch it or pick her up without her yelping.
We went to the vet many, MANY times. Once or twice a week. The first blood work came back to confirm she had pancreatitis (very common amongst schnauzers). So every time she was struck down with pain, we assumed it was that and switched her to a low-fat prescription diet. But the belly aches always returned, leaving even her gums and tongue so pale (nearly white) which the doctors said was a sign of dehydration and possibly a leakage of blood somewhere internally. In January, we finally took an Xray as well as an ultrasound. The Xray showed that her lungs were free of cancer cells which was a huge relief (because by the time those reach the lungs, it’s usually too late) but her ultrasound showed huge masses in her spleen that somehow went unnoticed in previous vet visits (probably because when it did get large she would do something like jump on a couch too quickly and tear the mass, causing it to bleed and disappear for a short time only to return).
Curie went into surgery immediately and had a splenectomy after they found three masses. After the biopsy, we were told that it was indeed cancer. The really bad kind. Frankly we were shocked and I couldn’t hold back the tears while the surgeon explained what would happen. Canine hemangiosarcoma is a tumor that lines the blood vessels (essentially a tumor of the blood) which makes it extremely tricky and destructive because it travels quickly and usually hits the lungs, liver, heart or brain first. 1 out of 5 Golden Retrievers will battle this during their lifetime, and “1.5 to 2.5 million out of 72 million dogs will get hemangiosarcoma and succumb to it”. The cancer cells in our baby Curie were going to spread in the next 3-4 months and she would pass a few weeks after that. That was the hard fact and I panicked inside because we were almost out of time. 3 or 4 months? That’s it. That would give us until April or May. June if we were lucky. Curie might see us in our silly costumes for Emerald City Comicon and excitedly bark at all the episodes of Game of Thrones season 5 (she loves watching those horses run on screen) but there’s no guarantee. She most likely won’t make it to her 13th birthday in June (we adopted her on June 4th, 2010) and we’ll have to feed her a delicious box of canine cookies early.
(Did someone say TREAT?!!)
But even with the grave news, there were so many things to be grateful for after the surgery. For one, Curie was no longer in excruciating pain like she was back in December. It was a night and day difference and it made the surgery worth every penny. After a week of bed rest, she was relinquished from the cone of shame, bouncing around and barking like her usual self. She was munching down on her food like the little piggy that I know, though her belly was tremendously smaller than it was before since there was no longer a spleen or three tumors. But the most heart warming thing was what our amazing friend, Erin, did on Curie’s behalf. After I told my friends and co-workers what had happened and about the financial expense of the surgery, Erin took it upon herself to set up a Tilt account. Basically it’s a campaign site where you set up a page that describes a goal you want to reach, and then you start collecting donations from family, friends and even strangers who wish to contribute. You set a minimum “tilt” goal (so no one’s credit card is charged until you hit that number) and you continue raising money towards the goal after you tilt. When Ben and I found out what Erin had done, we were just overcome with gratification and what can only be compared to as the best heartburn. Wow. Just WOW!!!! Our amazing friends (even my boss!) had pitched in on behalf of our baby girl and raised a whopping $1,779!!! Holy schnauzer!!! I can only cry (some more) and thank each and every person who sent us their love. We were overwhelmed, truly.
With a few precious months left, we decided in early February that we’d go on as many adventures as possible and at least one memorable trip (which we did just this past weekend!) With our dear friends Kelsi, Ryan and their puppy Bourbon, we drove down to Oregon and rented a cute little house only a walk away from Cannon Beach. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever set eyes on (that line kind of upsets me because it’s definitely an understatement…everyone says that psh). William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition once described this beach as “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” back in 1806 (meh, basically what I just said). I’ve never seen the sky and giant rocks reflected in wet sand the way it is on the Oregon coast. Everything shines, and if you span the beach with your eyes, your left and right look misty and blue but the sunset in front of you is ablazed in pink and gold which makes the blue seem misplaced but hauntingly alluring. It’s what I imagine the coasts of England to look like.
Those few days we spent frolicking in the sand, barking at other dogs, playing board games and just soaking in all the wonders around us.
It was the most perfect trip and I think Curie had a blast :)