|Ferguson our brave boy with the magnificent smile|
Sunday night, Steve noticed a bump on Ferguson's upper gum. It was not painful to his boy when he touched it but Steve knows Ferg has a history of horrible dental issues so Monday first thing we called Dr. Julia. Ferguson was eating voraciously and even chewed on that side so we were comfortable making an appointment for later in the week, with the caveat that we could call if it got nasty looking or painful.
We all thought that we were going in to look at a gum infection or possibly an abscessed tooth when we loaded our quiet one into the van.
We laughed when Dr. Julia and Margaret came into the exam room. Our vet, having dealt with Ferg's snap before, seriously asked "Am I going to need to sedate him to see into his mouth?" Steve picked his best bud up in his arms and placed him on the table. "Nope, I will hold him and roll back his lip so you can see."
That is where the fun ended. The exam took about 45 seconds. It was not an abscess; it was a tumor. And from the change in Dr. Julia's expression something serious. "OK," she told Margaret, "take him in the back and prep him. We will do surgery later this morning." Then she turned to us, "You can pick him up at the end of the day."
Tell me straight up is my motto, and she knows it. "Worst case?" I asked her. "Oral melanoma malignant. But we won't know until we remove it and see how good a margin I can get and then see what the histology report has to say." "But you are already pretty sure that is what it is."
We returned home and were met by a White Dog Army confused by Ferguson's absence. "It is not good," I told them. "But he WILL be home this afternoon." Immediately the Army drew together as a pack. We all sat this way (except for Nilla, his Taiko Twin, who paced nervously around us), until Dr. Julia called around two.
She had been able to "debulk" the tumor but had not gotten good margins. The tissue and cells had been sent off for review and we would know by Monday. But she suspects the melanoma has spread to bone. We spoke briefly of options and prognosis and holistic supplements. When I hung up I turned to face the WDA and share the news...and long deep hugs.
I called Steve to tell him what we had already surmised but the confirmation which would, I knew shatter his heart...once again. Ferguson is Steve's best bud, sent by Taiko, Steve's heart dog stolen by pancreatic cancer, who was sent by the Mighty Quinn, that once in a lifetime daemon taken from Steve by a brain tumor. "What am I doing wrong?" he asked into the phone, barely able to keep his composure at school. "Maybe the better question is what are you doing so wonderfully well that the Universe sends you these lost and forsaken rescue boys found on the streets with no one to love them or care about their health or share their journey. You are their salvation in so many ways."
I turned my chair so I could continue talking to Steve...and to the White Dogs surrounding me. "This isn't over. Ferguson is not gone. How much time he has is unknown. It always is. We will continue doing just what we do every day. We will love each other. Appreciate each other. Share our ups and downs and ins and outs and victories and failures. We will embrace life."
When Steve pulled into the drive a little after six, he had Ferguson with him. We all expected Steve to carry in a drugged out victim. Ferguson leaped from the car and trotted up to the door. He was a bit overwhelmed at his welcome, including my lifting him into my arms and kissing his ear. There was no sign of the day he had just "endured." Steve lifted his lip to show me that the work had been done and a sutured hole needed to heal.
One of the things Dr. Julia and I discussed was immediately cutting his glucose intake because it is well documented that sugars feed cancer cells. I had already given that thought. Steve and I quickly cobbled together a meal of fresh fish, coconut oil, green beans and turmeric. Steve had been directed at pickup to only lightly feed our boy so he only received half a normal meal. "No more kibble, Sweet Boy," Steve told him. Ferguson complained not one bit and actually asked for seconds. Steve patted his head. "Not tonight, you are still recovering from surgery. We do not want you to get sick." Ferg head butted him to show his annoyance.
We have explored our options and are pretty sure we know the course we will choose to follow but will wait for the report and visit with Dr. Julia on Monday before starting on this path in earnest.
Tonight we still cluster close and thank the Universe for each other.