This whole cancer journey has made me a firm believer in the healing power of pets.
This week marks six weeks since I quit the ten-consecutive-day round of radiation treatments on my brain. Friday morning I went in for a follow-up MRI to see how (or if) my brain tumors had reacted to the treatments. The day before treatments started, my MRI showed seven small metastases in various locations in my brain, all measuring 1cm or less in size. As of this Friday’s MRI, four have disappeared and the remaining three are all 1mm or less in size. My radiation oncologist is pretty optimistic that they will continue to shrink and quite possibly disappear along with the rest. I have another MRI in three months to check again – keeping my fingers crossed. If there is no change, I will have to go back for more radiation, but this time it will be more of a gamma knife situation where they can go in and radiate those specific tumors rather than my entire head.
Of course, I can’t wait to get another CT and/or PET scan to see how the Xalkori is affecting the rest of the tumors that had managed to spread throughout my body. I’m just thankful they found the ALK gene mutation in me and I don’t have to do general chemo. I think I’ll be setting up those scans during my next appointment with my clinical oncologist on Wednesday.
I also attribute a lot of my healing toward the immense amount of support I’ve been receiving through old friends popping up and saying hi, the vast reduction of sugar and grease in my diet, and even prayers from family, friends, and complete strangers.
I have to give tons of credit where it’s due – my miniature dachshund, who came into my life just over three years ago when he was just a wee lad – little guy was barely walking and fit in the palm of my hand. This little guy seems to be extremely in tune with my body. So much so, in fact, it turns out he knows exactly where my tumors are. For giggles, this past Friday I asked the oncologist to show me where my brain tumors actually were. Lo and behold, the locations of every single tumor corresponds to locations my dachshund targets and licks. I’m not talking little puppy kisses here and there. He will climb up on my chair, pins me in place with his paws on my chest, and lick all of them vigorously till I have to push him off. I firmly believe he’s actually doing something to help me heal.
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Nah, seriously though. Not only does my little puppy lick the ever living hell out of my head, he also cuddles with me in my easy chair at night, sitting upright so his little butt is resting on my hip and his head is in my armpit. After a few minutes, he shifts a little and turns his head and lays it precisely on the spot where my lung tumor is and falls asleep.
He began exhibiting this behavior shortly before I was diagnosed back in December. After the diagnosis, it became far more frequent. I like to think that through his actions, he’s literally sucking the life out of my cancer cells.
I’m not really looking forward to the day he finds the tumor in my tailbone.