I wrote last week about Emmett and his lump, the tests that were being done, the hopes and fears we had for the outcome. On Monday night, our vet called with the news. “Cancer,” she said. “A nerve sheath tumor.” Those words, they ripped a hole in my chest. My heart shattered into a thousand shards that I can still feel stabbing me. Emmett, my puppy soulmate, the doggy love of my life, the boy who brings a smile to everyone with a wag of his tail, he has cancer. How can this be?
What is this thing, this ugly little thing inside his lovely little leg? We were all business on the call. We managed to ask the right questions: What does this mean? What can we do? How could this happen?
She referred us to the Veterinary Specialty Center of Indiana. We meet with a surgeon and an oncologist tomorrow morning. They will look him over, examine the tumor, and make recommendations. Our vet prepared us. There are two courses of action, she said. Surgery plus radiation, which will cause it to go into remission, but the recurrence rate is high. Or amputation, which could eliminate the cancer altogether because it probably hasn’t spread past the tumor site.
Amputation. The word pounds through my head every second of every minute since we hung up that phone. Amputation. If that means Emmett will be cancer free, then I’ll help with the surgery. I would trade his leg for his life a million times over.
I know I will mourn the loss of his leg, of his wholeness. But deep down I know that the loss of the leg won’t break his kind-hearted, soulful spirit. He’ll still be Emmett, he’ll still love doing therapy work, he’ll still rest his head in my lap when he gets sleepy and wag his tail when he wants a little piece of my lunch.
Would Lucas treat him differently? I think not, only because Lucas watches Emmett as if he’s a god, following and mimicking his every move.
Will Emmett’s temperament change? Maybe he’ll be testy at first, as he gets used to his new gait. But Emmett radiates love, and I’m confident that nothing can shake that.
I started researching recovery and strengthening exercises for amputees. It seems dogs fare much better than people – most being entirely used to their new hobble in 10 to 14 days. I know the first time he stumbles, the first fall, the first struggle he has to lay down or get up or climb the stairs, the little pieces of my heart will shatter into even smaller bits. But if he’s cancer free, if amputation is the answer, if it rids his body of this insidious little monster, then I will be able to find a way to put all the little pieces back together.
More tomorrow, after our appointment.