August 25, 2016

This story starts with, “A Year Ago – August 17” …

August 17, 2015 – It was ultrasound day (I coined it, “can’t deal, get the hell out of my face and leave me alone” day). I am sure that any pet parent going through the cancer journey would agree that ultrasound day, and the days leading up to it are filled with anxiety, doubt, fear … to sum it up, STRESSFUL!

It was a warm and sunny Monday in August. Layla had a re-check and ultrasound at 3 pm that day. I was not planning to go to her appointment because we had no cause to worry … she had been doing well and even though the tumor was growing a bit and we had to change chemotherapy drugs, we thought for sure it was working. She wasn’t showing signs of straining to go potty and seemed like her sweet self. I had just left work and my phone rang … my husband was calling and I thought he wanted to know if I was planning to stop over at the clinic before I went home. His voice sounded calm – too calm. He started to tell me that Layla’s Oncologist wanted to switch chemotherapy drugs again … Ummm … why? I was confused at what he was trying to tell me, and the next thing I know, her Oncologist is on the phone telling me the ultrasound showed that Layla’s bladder was almost completely full of tumor. WHAT? WAIT!!! This can’t be, I’m having a nightmare right now, right?! All I remember from that conversation was, bladder full, try different chemotherapy drug, let her go, not the right time – that’s it. I was shaking, sobbing, completely hysterical and trying to drive home. I called my friend and co-worker to tell her what had happened … she was going through a cancer journey with her dog too and I knew she would understand my hysteria. We talked long enough for me to calm down and get home (thank you, BB). I raced in the house and immediately went on FB and started to read through all the posts in our little (now not so little – fucking cancer) FB group for dogs with TCC. I found several posts about laser ablation and one mentioned a doctor in IL. I started to Google like a mad women and found the clinic that does the laser ablation surgery for dogs with TCC in IL AND it was only 2 hours from our house – score! I explained to my husband when he got home with Layla that we were taking her there to get the surgery and he had no clue what it was, but trusted that I had done all the research and knew that this would be our last chance to save our baby.

The next day I called the animal hospital in IL and the surgeon actually got on the phone to talk with me (that rarely happens). He was so nice and explained how the surgery would go and how it works and that he could get Layla in the very next week – 7 days to go! He had called and consulted with Layla’s Veterinarian and Oncologist and they all agreed that this was the best plan. They both told me that the surgery sounds promising, the surgeon is a nice guy and that they hope it works – hey guys, me too!

A year ago today, we packed up once again and drove to a different state in an attempt to save Layla. It was 4:30 am, dark and cool out as we drove away from our house and on to what we were hoping was an answer to many, many, many prayers. I kept turning around in the truck to look at Layla and tell her, “we’re almost there, Boo Boo – hold on, sweet baby girl.” Only a few people (no family) knew what we were doing. We had to stay positive and didn’t want any negative thoughts or worry to surround us or Layla that day – only good thoughts and more prayers than I have ever said in my life. We ended up arriving at the small animal hospital about 15 minutes before our 8:30 am appointment (the traffic in and around CHI really IS bad). I walked in, filled out the paperwork and my husband and Layla come in and sit down. We sat in a corner nervously waiting for our appointment … we passed the ten minute wait by watching the fish in the beautiful fish tanks in the waiting room – it was almost calming. They finally called our name and we took Layla back to an exam room and met with the surgeon. We handed over our girl and her overnight bag (yes, she had one and it was FULL) and before they reached the door with Layla, we called her back, reached out and hugged her, telling her how much we loved her and that she was a big toughie and would do great!

We walked out of the room – already exhausted by the events of the day (it was only 9 am). Layla’s surgery was suppose to happen at 1 pm and for the most part we spent the morning in the waiting room … sitting at the table, drinking coffee, pacing, sitting in the seats next to the window, by the hallway, in the lobby, sitting in the truck, walking the hospital grounds … we couldn’t sit still. My stomach was doing flip flops all day … it was 4:45 pm and no one had called me … I was started to worry. The phone finally rang and it was the surgeon – he was telling me the news wasn’t good … Layla’s bladder was more diseased than what he could tell on the ultrasound images. He cleaned out as much as he could without getting too close to the bladder wall and that hopefully a new chemotherapy drug would work for her. I walked from the waiting area to the hallway when he called and after we hung up, my knees gave out and I slide down the wall onto the floor and curled up in a ball and started to sob. I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted to die at that moment – why was this happening to her? WHY?! My husband and a staff member we befriended during our all day stay helped me off the floor. I don’t remember much about what happened from the time I got up, got into the truck and drove 50 feet into the hotel parking lot (thank goodness it was in the same complex as the animal hospital). The next thing I remember was being in the hotel room heating up dinner when my best friend called to see how things went … insert (sobbed like a baby for 20 minutes here). She shared her day with me, which made me smile – thanks MC, you can always make me laugh! Later that evening I called the hospital to see if we could see Layla and they told us we couldn’t, even though the surgeon had mentioned we could earlier in the day. You can imagine that I was thrilled with that answer, so, we left the hotel to roam around this little IL suburb. I couldn’t go back to the hotel until I stopped in at the hospital to drop of Layla’s teddy bear we bought her on our trip to Purdue earlier in the year. I wanted her to know that we had been there all day, waiting to see her … I just wanted to see my baby! Neither one of us slept that night …I kept saying over and over how much I missed her. She was in a little white building right outside my hotel window … so close, but so far away. Why is this our story … why did this have to be our story?

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