I don’t know if you noticed, but WUL started up at the beginning of this week after a fairly brief hiatus. I didn’t announce the hiatus, as I’ve done in the past, nor did I announce its return. We just kinda… went away… and came back.
The reason we went away was the reason most blogs go away, either temporarily or permanently. Other things take priority over the time one spends blogging, tweaking, editing, linking… and when there is a team of bloggers to manage, that is a lot of time, even if one has help.
This time around, it was literally a matter of life or death. One of our dogs, Suzy Q. – who basically imprinted on me from the first time she walked into our home and with whom, as a result, I have an extraordinary bond – had a tumor in her mouth. It came up very suddenly; it seemed to grow overnight.
And what started out in late March as, “WTF is that big piece of bubblegum in Suzy’s mouth?” (that’s what it looked like), quickly snowballed into what felt like never-ending rounds of vet visits, surgery, biopsies and, ultimately, the dreaded “C” word. Unfortunately her tumor was an aggressive oral melanoma””and of the myriad cancers out there, that’s one of the worst anyone, canine or human, can get.
Thanks to the relative flexibility of running my own business and incredibly understanding partners and clients, I was able to reduce business travel to the bare minimum to focus on finding the best treatment options””and venue””for Suzy.
The cancer stuff
Suzy underwent a second surgery fairly quickly (the first was done less than a week after we first saw the tumor, to excise it from her mouth)””this second one was a “partial mandibulectomy,” which means part of her jaw was removed to ensure there were no local cancer cells left. One of her lymph nodes was also removed, as that is one of the first places the cancer could migrate.
She was simultaneously started on a fairly new melanoma vaccine therapy, the idea being that the surgery takes care of the local cancer, and the vaccine builds up her immune system to fight off any microscopic cancer cells that may show up elsewhere. So basically they’re the Batman and Robin of canine oral melanoma treatment.
All of this – from detection to treatment – happened in about three and a half weeks, while I was still undergoing my own physical therapy for my injured arm (it’s till not 100%, soft tissue injuries are a bear). So the past few months have been, to put it mildly, traumatic, not to mention incredibly expensive (even with pet insurance). While I love my work and the people I work with, most of the time all I want to do is sleep.
The good news is that as of now, Suzy’s radiographs, etc., are clear, and she’s bounced back – even with part of her left jaw missing (but you can barely tell, the surgeon did an amazing job) like a basketball. Spring seems to be settling in, the flowers are out, and I’m grateful for the sunrise every day.
Why should you care?
I tell you all this not to make excuses for being away, but because part of being in a community means we share what’s going on. I cannot tell you how much comfort I (and we, as my husband saw the posts as well) received from people all across the world.
There is an entire #teamsuzy brigade on Facebook (that’s where I tend to spend the little “social media” time I have these days) that has been rooting for her, and continues to cheer her on… and many of you are a part of it. I met up with a friend from high school this past Monday – for the first time since high school – and one of the first things she did was ask about Suzy.
I’ve also seen several friends lose dearly beloved pets in the last couple of weeks””some are still suffering””and it’s heartbreaking. And how did I learn of their losses, and commiserate with them? Through Facebook.
This is not an ode to Facebook. It’s an acknowledgement of the ties social networks help us build, if we show our humanity and use them for what they truly are – ways to bridge the gaps between us… to really build, and be a part of, a community.
My time “away” made me realize how strong these ties can be. And as I was agonizing over publishing WUL in such a hit-and-miss way recently, I realized we have something quite extraordinary here… a real community.
We haven’t been very active recently – here at WUL – and that is because I, as “chief community manager” haven’t been around much. But many of us have connected on other networks and platforms, which is how I know the community is alive and kicking. And it is far too valuable for me to give up on, which thought has crossed my mind now and again… as I imagine it has for any of you who have been in a similar situation.
Funny it took a dog’s cancer to make me realize that.
WUL is back and while we may go through ups and downs, we’re not going away. Thank you for hanging in there with us. You’re awesome.
I need to give props to VCA Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg and, in particular, Dr. Eileen Snakard (who performed Suzy’s surgery) and Dr. Joanna Intile (Suzy’s vet oncologist). They’re incredible. VCA’s front desk can be a bit hit and miss, but still not rude. It is one of the best specialty hospitals for animals in the country, so if ever you (unfortunately) need one, please consider it.
Also, I am out all next week, first in Key West (yay!) speaking (keynoting!) at Counselors Academy, and then teaching a workshop at Harvard Medical School (I kid you not. Totally cool).
However, #measurePR, which is scheduled for May 6, 12-1 pm ET, will absolutely take place, thanks to Jennifer Zingsheim who will host it, and Richard Bagnall, who’ll be the guest. So please mark your calendars, this is not a chat to miss!
rosemaryoneill And it was really your email that made me realize I canNOT give up on WUL… so thank you very much, Rosemary!
jenzings You’re a lifesaver!!!
@sherrie bakshi Thank you Sherrie! Yes, I remember how supportive people were about Nikki, and I felt so badly for you as well. Thank you very much for all the support you’ve given US!
jasonkonopinski I love it!
Lisa Gerber She is SUCH a snuggle muffin! Except she likes to be the one doing the snuggling, if you try to snuggle with her, she does what I call the “PushMePullYou” – stretching out her leg against you!
I’m so sorry for your loss, my dear.
bdorman264 I kept trying and trying and trying to reply to your comment, and of course it was the ONE day LF was completely messed up!
I calmed down a bit about the insurance. All said and done it *is* a good product (it’s ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, and ironically, I’d launched it!), and at least has paid back a significant part of this year’s expenses. It just sucks that next year she won’t be covered for her treatments, because they consider cancer an “untreatable” disease.
annelizhannan Thank you so much!
Key West, cool; wave when you fly over.
Because dog’s love is as close to unconditional love as you can get, this is why we get so attached to them. Unfortunately pet insurance is somewhat like dental insurance and it’s more of a minimal reimbursement mechanism than ‘true’ insurance; yuck, huh?
Good luck w/ the dog and your latest journey; we are all evolving in here I believe.
Great to hear some good news about Suzy and a wonderful story how community can lend so much support to us, whether two-legged and four-legged.
DAMN THAT DAMN DOGGIE CANCER. and we both wrote about our dogs today. I have to say, it took me over a day to be able to post my news because i was so upset, but the comments, notes, virtual hugs all helped. What was also nice is when we went out to a fundraiser dinner that Friday night, a lot of people already knew without my having to tell them. People came up and gave us hugs and condolences and again, it made it easier. Couldn’t agree with you more.
Glad Suzy is kicking cancer’s butt! We must enjoy every minute with our snuggle muffins!
I am so glad that she is on her way to recovery and happy to part of #TeamSuzy. I felt the same way when my pup (Nikki) became ill (unfortunately she did not make it), but the love and support we received during those tough times was just amazing. I even found support at work with me having to be in and out at doctors appointments. This was a great post, Shonali and look forward to future ones!
#TeamSuzy #Dogsrule — I’m SO glad she is on the mend.
I’m happy to help out in any way, especially by helping out with the chat!
#TeamSuzy all the way! You definitely have a community here, and the great thing is that we all have a shoulder to lean on when we need it. I’m so happy to hear that WUL is sticking around :)