A Week With Cancer

Hi, it’s Charlie here.  Dad (Dr. Llera) agreed to take some dictation for me so I could share some of my story.  It’s been a Charlie st patrick dayfull week since I was diagnosed with cancer again, this time with lymphoma.  I thought this was a good time to reflect on my experience and share how we see things as dogs.

Late at night some days before, I was just minding my own business….you know peeing on one of dad’s flower plants outside the house.  It was still pretty cold for dad and he was anxiously waiting for me to finish and get back in the warm house.  When I mean anxious, he was begging me to hurry up…but then his voice got silent.

Back inside the house, he called for mom and the next minute later I was being groped around my manly dog parts.  I heard them talk about it being swollen and our neighbor joking that dad should call the vet since it might have been swollen for longer than 4 hours.  Sometimes it’s hard being dog & best friend of a veterinarian because when something is wrong, you know you’re getting looked over to the extreme but at least there’s usually cookies afterwards.

The next day we got up and got dressed for the car ride to the Kingston Veterinary Clinic but I didn’t get breakfast!! Charlie at VEC April 2015 Dad was talking to the other vet people about probing me and taking blood to find out more.  Being a previous blood donor that wasn’t the scary part….but probing didn’t sound so good.  And I was right!!  I had 5 or 6 other people touch me inappropriately and putting syringes where they don’t belong trying to flush things out.  Then I got poked by another needle in a lump they found next to my parts.  It was not very fun and I bruised afterwards but I got so many cookies & a bowl full of food!  (Can you tell cookies & food are an important part of my day?)

Blood tests came back and dad asked me what was wrong with my kidneys.  How am I supposed to know?  I just gave blood at vet school, I didn’t learn anything there.  Since I was still feeling good, we started some antibiotics while waiting for test results.  Ick!  I made sure dad knew I didn’t like them as I vomited in the living room…but then I felt guilty so I ate it again quickly while he stood there looking at me like I was a purple unicorn.  He didn’t get mad at me for messing up the floor but gave me a hug instead.  I think he was just glad he didn’t have to pick it all up and just had to get out the machine for the rug instead.

charlie cone April 2015A couple days later they sucked more blood out of me but this time I knew it was bad.  Within minutes, I was put in a cage and plugged into a fluid machine.  At least they gave me a comfy blanket but I missed curling up with my buddy Taylor.  The rest of the weekend was strange as I had to still sit in a cage even in my own house; oh the indignity!  I couldn’t even go outside for some privacy and dad kept me on a short leash and made me wear a funny boot.  He also made me wear the cone of shame…grandma said I looked like a flower.

I still kept my spirits up because I knew how upset dad had been.  He cried a few times that weekend worrying about what was happening to me.  He returned the favor by taking the tubing out of my leg and I got to run around the yard again!  My plan had worked and I was happy!  But it was short lived.  Dad told me we were going on a long car trip to the big city after taking some pictures of me on another machine where everyone got to wear space age looking suits except me.  The lump came back with the cancer called lymphoma.  I knew this wasn’t good because dad hugged me for what seemed like an eternity.

cyst in the kidney

cyst in my kidney

Friday, we got in the car for our trip to a place called the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Toronto.  He forgot to feed me again!  When we got there, I met some nice doctors named Dr. Mason & Dr. Cullander who also prodded me and looked me over.  I wonder, how many more people will touch me?  I just want cookies & hugs; why can’t they understand?  Next thing I knew, I was laying on my back and they shaved my belly.  In the summer this might not be so bad, but I realized just how cold it was when I laid on the floor later.  A cold jelly was put on my belly and I got massaged by a wand which I later found out was not magical nor could it remove the cancer.  It did tell the doctors that my kidneys had cysts but that the cancer didn’t look like it was anywhere else.

hugging charlie at VECShortly after, the doctors talked to dad about some major drugs that would help to kill the cancer.  After a chat with mom, dad told them to start the chemotherapy and I was taken to the treatment room where I met many nice people until they poked me and I was waiting for the cookies.  I wondered where dad had gone but he came back for me, true to his word saying he would never leave.  We got back in the car to go home and surprise – there was food and dad even shared his chips!  The drugs made my appetite weird and another pill makes me pee a lot but at least it’s warmer outside now.

It’s been a few days since our trip and mom & dad decided to get me the treatment to help me feel better even though vincristine to fight cancerI’ve been feeling pretty good.  Dad said he owed it to me for all the great things I’ve done for others in my life.  Yesterday was my first chemo treatment from dad and the technicians at KVC.  It was a little strange when dad came over to me looking that that guy from Breaking Bad, except the suit was green this time, but afterwards I knew it was going to be okay when I got cookies.

I’m doing alright and am getting used to new foods but I’ve got a long road ahead.  The next 6 months will have it’s ups and downs.  But through it all, I’m gonna keep fighting cancer.  I’m going to get all the love and support I need from my family and return that love even more.  There may come a time when it’s time to let go and if it comes to that at least I’ll be able to watch over my family.  Now wish me luck!  It’s time to go for another car ride!

1st chemo to fight cancer