It was one year ago today I got that dreaded call – “Shelby has hemangiosarcoma”.
What started off as a wonderful day – off to a new job with lots of promise, opportunities, excitement. I felt like my world and my bad luck with crappy jobs had finally turned a corner. I was valued and needed by a team that was sure to be a wonderful one. I remember driving the long commute home (well, not every job has the perfect commute, right?) and talking to my mom about how LUCKY I was. I got to work in a place that was similar to my high school (which I loved) and I got to meet the most amazing and interesting people. Everyone was nice. They were supportive. I had my own BIG office.
And most importantly, Shelby had done great on her first full day at home without me – for the first time in over two months. She was snuggled up on her bed when I got home and we began, what would become one of the best parts of my day, when I would walk in the door, rush to her side and gently rouse her from sleep with soft sweet kisses on her velvet ears. She would make the happy moaning sounds of delight and slowly rise up, stretch, and we would go outside for our short walk. She was still a quad-pawd at this point but the stairs were hard on her. We would then have our ‘happy dance’ time around DINNER.
As I sat down on the couch, with a glass of wine and my best girl next to me, my phone rang. Advanced Critical Care on the caller ID. I figured they had the results of Shelby’s spleen removal. I didn’t want to answer the phone but I knew that I had.
It was, of course, the worst possible news. EVER. As I tried to contain my tears and shock, I “heard” what the doctor said. I vowed to fight. We would do chemo. We would prove them all wrong.
I hung up and called my mom and burst into the biggest tears. I couldn’t breathe. I felt suffocated. I felt scared. I felt alone. And I felt anything but strong. As I looked at my beautiful Shelby, I saw that there was no fear in her eyes. Her world hadn’t changed. She didn’t know what was wrong. I knew then, as I had back in June when she broke her leg, that I needed to be strong for her. I needed to rely on her strength to guide me. And I knew that I had to believe in positive thinking and prayer.
And I knew that I couldn’t mess up this job so I needed to put on the biggest happy face and channel that positive energy the best that I could to get me through the days, the weeks and months yet to come.
I made plans for us to go to Santa Barbara (which on a level I did know would be our last trip up there). I made the decision not to leave the state or Shelby while she was ill. I made the decision to make Shelby my #1 priority. And I made the hardest decision of all – to fight this alone. I didn’t tell a soul. I alluded to it on Facebook, etc with the hashtag #shelbystrong and #dogisafighter but no one knew for many, many months what we were fighting at home. Because Shelby looked good – the whole time. She looked like a puppy. She acted like a happy dog.
As the days, weeks and months wore on, it got harder to put on a happy face and hide my internal fear. But I am proud that Shelby almost never saw me cry. She saw concern, compassion, helicopter parenting but she never ever saw the incredible fear that I felt. We had the best doctors; we made going for chemo a happy experience. I treated her the same – told her to “suck it up, buttercup” when I knew she could and would do something.
So today marks one year in which our short seven month journey with cancer began. I miss you, Shelby Lynne. I love you more than life itself. And I think about you every single day. And I still dream about you. You remain – the absolute LOVE OF MY LIFE!