When one you love is sick

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A member of my family has recently been diagnosed with cancer and it’s extremely heartbreaking because she’s only eight years old. My sweet girl, Aberdeen, has nasal cancer and the prognosis isn’t great.

Aberdeen is a West Highland White Terrier – a Westie – and she is very much a member of our family. We’ve had her little 12-pound personality in our house since she was only 10 weeks old. She is at times sweet and loving and at times a total PITA. (That’s a pain in the…) But we love her and we’re very sad she’s been hit with a cancer diagnosis.

Yes, I understand she’s a dog and this isn’t the tragedy it would be if she was human, but she’s still our fur baby and we were shocked by the news. We also found out in the worst way possible when she had a sneezing fit and a nosebleed (didn’t even know that was possible for a dog) and had to be rushed to the vet. Analysis of the chunk of tumour she sneezed out gave us the diagnosis.

Because she is a dog, we are limited in what we can do for her. And we’re also limited by what we want for her. We want the rest of her life to be comfortable and happy. This means we’ve already made the decision not to put her through radiation, chemotherapy or disfiguring surgery. All of those options have limited impact on this type of cancer anyway, we’ve been told, so why put her through that?

Sometimes progress in medicine isn’t the thing I personally want to embrace. Thankfully, friends and family are supporting our decision.

So, we are going to see what the specialist says and we’ll take her to a holistic vet to explore those options. Then, we’ll simply love her and work to keep her comfortable for the time she has left. There will be lots of cuddles, lots of walks and lots of special treats for our girl.

We’re also going to have to figure out how Stuart, her older brother, is going to cope when she’s gone, since he doesn’t do well being left alone. I sense a puppy in my future.

They say animals leave paw prints on our hearts. Aberdeen’s paws are tiny but her imprint is huge and we’ll miss her terribly. Pets aren’t here for a long time but they certainly manage to make a big impression.

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