Canine over Cancer – guest post

Cancer affects us in so many ways.  Priorities rearrange themselves.  Things get lost along the way.  Some are recovered, some are not.  Here is a pleasant little story of a young sarcoma survivor and the pet dog she gave up but never forgot. The survivor’s Mom maintains the blog No end in sight except heaven…

It felt like a victory!

Her name was Galadriel The Fair.

Anyone with a knowledge of Tolkien would know the name.  We called her Galadie for short.  She came into my familie’s life on a  snowy New Year’s Eve years ago, as my third daughter and her friend watched and assisted in the birth of a litter of Golden Retriever puppies.  Chloe, the mom, was patient and willing as the two young girls comforted her and gently tied colored ribbons around her pup’s necks.  My daughter, who I affectionately call “My Little Dog Whisperer”, had already chosen Galadie, the runt, as her own.

When she was old enough, Galadie, came to live at my house.  She loved my family, my big back yard, chasing balls, and she loved water.  “My Little Dog Whisperer” loved her most. Galadie was hers.

And all was fine, until my son got sick with cancer.  Then life became chaotic, my home was full of stress and intense emotion.  Slowly Galadie became more and more territorial.  She took on the role of protector and began aggresively going after people who came to my house.  One day, she ran after my neighbor nearly biting him.  This was the last straw.  Too overwhelmed with my son’s care, I had to find her a new home. So I called the Golden Retriever Association.

I’ll never forget standing in our driveway as we each took turns saying good-bye to Galadie.  The tears were streaming down all of our faces and my heart was breaking especially for my third daughter.  And I watched her grieve for her Galadie for a year.  Her loss was real and palapable.  And I was angry. Here was one more thing that damned cancer had stolen from us, I thought.  Another loss to grieve.

Galadie was placed in a foster home for a while and then eventually adopted by a couple who lived on property north of Astoria.  Over the years “My Little Dog Whisperer” would talk about going to visit her.  But it just never seemed to happen.

But just a couple weeks ago, as she and I were planning her trip back to college, she asked me if we could stop on our drive up north to visit Galadie!  I hadn’t realized she was still in touch with Galadie’s new owners!  In fact, they were Facebook friends!

And so on a rainy, dark day, we took the scenic route north and stopped at a warm, dog loving home in Naselle, Washington.  There we were reunited with  Galadie.  It had been six years.   She had been renamed Sophie, and her Golden Retriever friend, Nellie, was just as eager to see us.

She was clearly well loved by Chuck and Jan as they showed us pictures of her swimming and jumping into Priest Lake in Idaho.  They showed us the creek in their yard she would swim and play in.  They shared with us their travels back east with Nellie and Sophie.  Always staying at Motel 6 because they are dog friendly.  They talked about her recent knee surgery and how they searched out the best vet going all the way to Spokane.  And how they’d put in a doggie door and ramp just for her while she was convalescing.

And as I listened to their stories and looked into Galadie’s now grey face and watched “My Little Dog Whisperer’s” face shine, I realized she hadn’t been stolen from us at all.  She had been a gift to a wonderful couple and a companion to their dog Nellie.

That damned cancer hadn’t won after all!

It felt like a victory!

~ from No end in sight except heaven…

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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