mr. guinness.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

with the heaviest heart of my life, i am going to try to write this post. we have learned that our beloved G's cancer has returned, very aggressively. he was first diagnosed with multi-centric lymphoma this january, which we treated with the CHOP protocol chemotherapy (the most aggressive treatment that was offered to us). he did really well during the chemotherapy, and  nearly 6 months ago, he was deemed in full remission. we still had to finish up the chemo protocol for the full effectiveness, and his last treatment was in may. we don't know how long he would have lived without this chemo treatment, but the estimation that we received in january was not long. this precious, precious time that we have had with him.. these past 9 months.. have been worth their weight in gold.

since completing his chemotherapy, we have returned to the UW monthly for rechecks to determine if the cancer had returned. so far.. two checkups.. and all was well; G was still in complete remission. about a week after his last checkup, we noticed that his glands were slightly larger than normal (this is a huge indicator of lymphoma, but can also be a indicator of allergies, which guinness suffers from regularly). we were in direct contact with the vet and decided to bring him back for another recheck and further evaluation, after his allergy medications did not reduce their size.

just like that, everything changed. the cancer was back and there was nothing we could do. without treatment, they estimate G to have only three short weeks with us left. my heart twisted into a knot at the words. they offered another highly aggressive chemotherapy protocol that would give us an estimated half of his first remission time, if it took at all. and they offered a clinical trial which has no guarantees or estimates of life. the only other option is to make him comfortable for the rest of his short life.

our entire day yesterday was spent crying in an ugly, cold clinical room. meeting with doctors and interns and researching and trying to figure out what was best for our boy. toward the end of G's previous chemo treatment, we swore we would never put him through it again. even though he tolerated it fairly well, it was so much for his little body and he wasn't himself for a lot of that time. but when you are presented with the option of death versus trying another chemotherapy... your previous reasoning becomes a bit cloudy.

we decided that another aggressive treatment was not an option. if we only have a very short time left with our boy, we don't want him to be sick and miserable. it seems cruel and selfish and we cried about this for hours. but we also were not okay with just going home with meds to make him "comfortable". i shudder at the words... going home and just waiting for him to die? because he is still acting like himself.. happy and cuddly and giving us kisses and begging for our food.. we just couldn't do this. so we decided to hear about the clinical trial.

clinical trials are scary. there are no guarantees.. there are no estimations or approximations. it is basically a test. an experiment. they don't know what will happen either. but this was an option that would treat G with a less aggressive chemotherapy treatment (single agent) accompanied by a drug to make him more comfortable. we have no idea if it will work.. we have no idea if it does work how much time that would give him.. we have no idea if it will make him terribly ill (in which case we have decided we will not continue). there are major risks, including death. which is terrifying. but considering that the other option is a known death in approximately 3 weeks, we decided to try it. to try it and see how he reacts.

it is so easy for us to be selfish with these decisions. we want to keep him forever.. but since that isn't an option, we want to keep him for as long as possible. i want him to meet this baby so badly it makes me ache in ways i didn't know that i could. but we are trying very hard to think of him first and us later. we do not want him to be miserable in the last days of his life. we want him to be happy and to be loved and to be at peace. so, i don't know what will happen. if we decide that the trial chemotherapy is too rough on him, we will stop treatments and try to make him comfortable and happy.

it is all so surreal talking about this and crying about this when he is laying right next to me.. snoring soundly and nuzzling deeper into his blanket. he is my best friend. i have never had a pet in my life until guinness, and the unconditional love between us is something i cannot describe. he has been there for me, every day. through 5 years of infertility and a miscarriage; through bad days at work and deaths in the family; through fights with my husband and sicknesses that leave me bedridden. G has been there.. to love me and cuddle me and kiss me, unconditionally. to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and vacations and a baby on the way.. he's always there. i can't imagine coming home to this house without him waiting for me. i can't imagine waking up and going to bed without him in our routine. i hate that G will probably never know our baby. he would have been the best big brother... getting poked and prodded. being cuddly and protective. it absolutely kills me to know that we will probably never have this.

i have been trying very hard to keep my emotions in check, knowing that i need to protect the baby and that my stress and anxiety needs to be kept at bay. i honestly don't know how to do it though. i have been able to stay relatively calm so far, as calm as i can... but the utter sadness that flows through me is unavoidable. i have never been so sad. and while there is new life stirring inside me, it is strange to feel so sad.

last night i eventually found myself sleeping at the bottom of our bed, with my feet touching the headboard. i couldn't sleep without being next to G, and feeling his little belly move up and down with every breath.

on our car ride home thursday, after G's first clinical trial chemo iv.

the words that i want to say are somewhere that i can't reach. i feel dazed and hazy. clouded. i don't want to leave my boy for anything. not for work, not for food... not for.. seriously, anything. i want to stay cooped up in our house and never leave in hopes that the world will continue on and forget about G's cancer forever.

i am so grateful for these last moments together with all of my family. i believe that G does know of the little one growing inside of me and he will always be baby bub's protector. right now, i have my dream. i may only have it in ways that i didn't recognize so easily, but this is it and G has gotten me here.

thank you all for your sweet words, encouragement and prayers. i know that we are not the only people in the world that have had to deal with these circumstances, but i never truly understood just how badly it hurts. your thoughts and messages have meant so much to us, as we cherish our last moments with our boy and try to prepare to say goodbye to him forever.



Anonymous said...

You did the right thing. My family and I had to make the same decision last October with our beloved Melany. It was her time to go and we could see it in her eyes. She was and is loved just as Mr. Guinness is. Cherish this time with him and thank your lucky stars every day that you were able to love him. You are in my thoughts.

Joi said...

Thinking of you guys and praying so very hard for peace and relief for your sweet boy. I am just sitting her sobbing and devastated that the puppies who love us more than humans ever have to leave us. Your love for him is about the most beautiful thing in the world. I am so very sad for you, Chelsea. Love you.