5 Lessons I Learned Losing My Dog To Cancer
Could you imagine a life where we didn't have to worry about losing our pets to diseases like cancer?
This picture popped up in my memories this morning from a year ago, and I have to admit I started crying. Finn passed over 4 months ago, and I still miss that guy so much.
Do you have a pet that you'd do anything to bring them back for even just another day?
Pets bring us so much joy, love and happiness. They're truly a family member, and losing them is one of the hardest parts of life. People who don't have pets will never understand, but I see you and feel your grief that you feel when losing a pet. Embrace the grief, feel it and know whatever you're feeling is ok to feel, even if it's still sadness months to years later. They are a family member.
However, the one thing that truly bothers me about losing Finn, is that he passed because of a stupid brain tumor that caused seizures we couldn't control. 60% of pets will develop cancer at some point in their life, and Finn is the third pet in my fur family to pass from this stupid disease.
Cancer sucks. There's nothing more to it, but I choose to look at the positive in the situation. Yes, that sounds weird, but here's what I learned from my journey with Finn and cancer.
1. Never take life for granted.
Finn was "fine" one day and the next he was having seizures and diagnosed with a brain tumor. We never know when our time is up on this physical earth. Don't waste time worrying over the things that are not in your control. It's time you'll never get back, and it could be time spent feeling gratitude with your family.
2. Do the things.
Recently, my hubby and I've been exploring more, and found some really neat spots along a river nearby. We never took Finn there, and it would've been his paradise. Feeling grief over that fact, I embraced it but also realized that our next puppy will spend a ton of time there. I truly feel like Finn guided us to that spot so we could enjoy it with our future dogs and remember Finn and all of his water loving grace. Have you ever felt like your past pets guided you to a thing that brought joy back to your heart? Don't wait, go do the things your heart desires. There may not be another time to do it.
3. Be present.
Cancer taught me to slow down, and be present. Thankfully, I was working for myself so I could take breaks and be with Finn. I knew his time would eventually come and I wanted each moment to be present with him. Yes, I got less work done, but I gained more time petting those soft ears, playing tug-o-war with his toys and going for walks. I would give anything to rub his soft, furry ears again.
4. Never settle.
If we had settled with the neurologist telling us there was nothing else we could do for him, we wouldn't have had an additional 10 months of good, quality of life with Finn. Finn did horrible with conventional meds when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The side effects from the prednisone and seizure meds were terrible. When I made the decision to take Finn off of his medications and use my holistic modalities, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, supplements and nutrition, the neurologist actually told us good luck and that we'd probably be back in a week to euthanize him. Thankfully I had the Eastern medicine knowledge which I know not everyone has, but never take someone's opinion to be the truth. Search for other ways to help your pets health if you feel like there is more you can do, because there probably is. Finding the way can be the hardest, but never settle if someone tells you there's nothing more.
5. Finally, prevention is key.
This is where I feel like I dropped the ball for Finn. We got baby Finn when I was in vet school. We did everything "right". Finn was fed the best kibble diet, got all the required vaccines, received his flea, tick and heartworm medication, and got lots of exercise. Yup, if I knew what I know now, I would've raised him very differently. Overall, he was really healthy and hardly got sick, but obviously there was a serious imbalance in his body to cause a brain tumor. Continue to learn how you can help your beloved dog or cat thrive with whole, real food nutrition. Learn about what vaccine titers are. Don't be afraid to stand up for your pet's health. Conventional medicine is needed at times, but there's so much more we can do through preventative medicine to prevent disease from occurring in the first place.
Blaming myself for Finn's cancer is not something I do. I recognize there was a better way to do things from the start, and all of the changes we made in the last 6 years of his life to a more holistic approach helped him. He wouldn't have lived as long if we hadn't made those changes, but imagine how long he would've THRIVED if we had started everything from day one?!
You've got this, and you're a part of our mission to help your pets achieve optimal health and avoid diseases like cancer through education, support and integrating Eastern medicine into Western medicine. Because you're here, I know you want more, and it is my mission to partner with you and your pets.
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*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.