WeekendCoffee Update

pinkribbonIf we were having coffee today, I’d be inclined to give you a little update.  About two months ago  I posted about going to a local animal shelter (Avoiding Shelter) while looking for our son’s lost dog.

I included a sad story about a dog named Daisy being surrendered while we were there.  Although we were very moved by the experience and thought about rescuing her, we found out she was quickly adopted and were hopeful that she had found her forever home.

I’ve found out a little more about her in the meantime.  This shelter posts pictures of the pets that they have.  I had still been periodically looking for my son’s lost dog (still lost!).  A little over three weeks after we had seen Daisy at the shelter, she popped up again on the shelter’s website. I called and inquired about her.

“Is there anything wrong with her?”

“Not a thing.  It’s people that are her problem,” the nice lady at the shelter told me and gave me a little more info on her past.

The owners who originally surrendered her in February had no real explanation. They’d had her for four years and had adopted her at the shelter.  After that, she was quickly adopted, then returned after ONE DAY.  That was the day we saw her. Another couple adopted her pretty quickly.  As the story goes, they tried to sneak her into their apartment but weren’t allowed to have a dog and of course, they didn’t get away with it. After three weeks they either had to move or get rid of the dog.  That was when she showed back up at the shelter and on the website.  So, within five weeks, Daisy had been surrendered at the shelter three times.  This last time she was fostered and I had a good long talk with her foster mom.  She too was at a loss to understand Daisy’s problem finding a home and was quite fond of her.

I think you can guess the rest of the story:
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She’s a bit blurry-eyed … I woke her up for that picture.  She’s spent a little over a month with us so far. She’s an outstanding dog.  She’s five years old, is house trained, is completely obsessed with our neighbor’s chickens, guinea-fowl, and ducks (who all seem to love to visit, hopefully eating ticks in our yard), and is trying to figure out how to be friends with our existing clowder of cats.  She’s trying, but the cats still want to keep her at paw’s length. The vet says she is a beagle/spaniel mix.

She is just now starting to really feel at home with us.  I don’t blame her for some of her confusion.  She’s bursting with love for just about everyone she meets.  I hope she doesn’t do that with burglars. (“Hi, take anything thing you want!”)
When she’s really happy to see you, she doesn’t just wag her tail, she wags the entire back end of her body.

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Thomas Fenske is an author living in NC.  My lead picture is still a pink ribbon.  My wife is mending and I want to thank all of you who responded to my last posting.  Please give to breast cancer research … even a little goes a long way.

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WeekendCoffee Cancer Fight

pinkribbonIf we were having coffee today I’d apologize for my recent absence. We’ve had a lot going on these past few weeks and it was difficult to find the time to sit down and share a little of what was going on.

What’s the deal?  The BIG “C” is what we’ve been dealing with.
My darling wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and we’ve been completely absorbed with a wild mix of office visits, biopsies, blood draws, mammograms (and more mammograms + ultrasound + more X-Rays),  bad news, and finally surgery.
Worry is the worst of it.  We worried about the diagnosis, about the prospect of surgery and its many possible complications, and we worry about the reality of a lifetime of changes.  Worry alone is enough to wear anyone out.
She had a double mastectomy almost two weeks ago.  Big reality check:  It basically involves not one but two amputations.
Let that sink in for a minute. Amputations.
It has been both physically and psychologically taxing for her.  She feels she has lost part of what makes her a woman. Think about it.  We live in a society that is obsessed with breasts and here she is losing hers in her own private war on cancer.  Me? I am just busy trying to be there for her while at the same time trying to keep the animals fed and the house in some vague resemblance of order.  I also help her keep track of her meds and monitor her symptoms, and of course, I have to manage her drainage tubes.
I try to reassure her that, in my mind, really, what makes her a woman is HER.  She’s still there completely, along with all of her love, her intelligence, and especially that feisty survivor attitude. To me, THAT is what makes her a woman, not those appendages. She’s my other half and she always will be.  Sure, I’m a man.  I love breasts … especially hers.  But I’ve psyched myself to hate the cancer that was in them.  For me, it was a no-brainer.  I’ve still got HER and that is all that matters to me.  I am inspired by her inner strength.
I’d long heard the term “breast cancer survivor”… but now I have a much better understanding of what that means.  I’ve seen these first phases of it first hand.  We were told that the second she was diagnosed she joined the ranks of survivors.  I also know there is a vast sisterhood out there of her fellow survivors.  It is astounding to learn how many lives have been touched by breast cancer.  Survivors are everywhere. My hat is off to all of you.  Every single one of you deserves everyone’s total respect: this is a sisterhood that needs to be heard.  As I sat in the waiting room at the Duke University Medical Center Breast Clinic during her breast biopsies I realized this affects young and old, all races, all sizes, all religions, rich, poor … it can affect anyone, every day, every month, every year.
I also understand now that “breast cancer” is not a singular entity.  That is a highly generic term.  I’ve learned that every single patient has their own version of the disease, with its unique currents and whirlpools in the stream of life. Specific treatments of even similar ‘types’ of cancer cells can take many twists and turns. She’s still in the early stages of treatment.  The pathology of her cancer cells shows a certain promise of optimism for a long-term cure but the jury is definitely still out and we are sitting in a darkened waiting room of an uncertain future. It will likely be weeks before we know the plot of the next chapters of her story.
I told her last night she is a Warrior Woman in her new lifelong battle with cancer.  Her scars are battle scars. Together we are going to beat this and kick this cancer’s ass.
So, dear coffee friends, that is the reason for my absence the last couple of weeks.  Please donate to valid breast cancer research charities, like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  I like them because a very high percentage of the money they receive goes to research.
Please reblog this or tweet and retweet links to this post.  Please share your own stories in the comments.   We have got to win this fight.