Have you ever been so afraid of something that you've been unable to talk about it
That happened to me early last week when I found a lump under my dog's front leg (in what I keep thinking of as his arm-pit). My heart stopped. I took my hand away and checked again and it hadn't gone away.
As memories of finding the lump in my breast came flooding back, I found myself saying out loud, "This just can't be anything. Lumps can happen for all sorts of reasons." But I felt really queasy.
Over the next couple of days, I kept checking (my poor dog was getting rather irritated with me). The lump clearly didn't bother him (but neither did mine). It felt hard to the touch (bad) but it seemed to move around a bit (good - but I wasn't sure this wasn't just wishful thinking on my part).
Last Thursday, I bit the bullet and took him to the vet. He felt at the spot and said, "It's a fatty tumour." He put his hand on my arm and said, "Am I worried about this? No. And it's not bothering him but if you are worried, I can remove it. Or I can do a biopsy."
"It's benign?" I stammered.
"Yes. It will grow slowly and he will probably get others but unless it starts to bother him, we don't need to do anything." And then he repeated, "I am not worried."
It was a good appointment. The vet pronounced both dogs to be "perfect" (I'd brought in Lucy, too), gave them their shots and told me to have a good summer.
So I left, feeling europhic.
In the last week, I have felt some niggling doubts, though. I know too much about cancer. I know far too many stories of people who were told that lumps were very unlikely to be cancer, only to find out the worst. Why would dogs be any different?
But the truth is, that I don't know what I would do if the lump were a cancerous tumour. Probably nothing very different. I can't imagine subjecting my dog to cancer treatment.
It was so hard losing Emma but she had lived a long life. I cried for Eli, who died a few weeks ago (we still owe him a eulogy). Losing Jasper, though, who's only nine, would break my heart. We call him my boyfriend (especially when we exchange meaningful glances and sneak off to bed together). He is sweet and quirky and very, very smart (he hid behind me when the vials came out for the vaccinations, even before he saw the needles). He's an old soul, too, as many have remarked. I am choosing to believe that all is well. The alternative does bear consideration.
Gratuitous photo of Lucy.