“Hi Ed, how are you?” – I knew who it was straight away, one of our good friends from just down the road. “Our old girl isn’t seeming to be so happy, could you drop in to check her out for us? It feels like she has a big lump in her neck. And we could have a cup of tea too!”
“No worries,” I said. ” I can drop in this afternoon on my way home, about 3:00.”
“See you then,” came a cheery reply.
My heart had sunk when she mentioned the big lump, but I kept that out of my voice. She was a lovely old border collie dog, I’d helped her with Whole Energy body Balance sessions in the past. I put it out of my mind for the moment, and focused on getting everything I needed into the van.
It was a hot, dry old day, the hills still green, but the paddocks were browning off. A gusty wind buffeted my van as I rolled over the roads. I enjoyed the unfolding of the landscape, big tall trees swaying their branches, houses tucked away in little valleys, birds dancing across the sky. Before too long I was pulling into their driveway.
“Hi there, come on in.” I was greeted with a cheery wave.
We got settled down, and I asked what was going on with her old friend.
“She just seems flat and hasn’t got her normal get-up and go, and I felt a big lump in her neck this morning. She is an old girl now, but it seems quite sudden that she’s lost her spark.”
“Let me have a look at her then,” I said.
We had to winkle her out from under the table. As soon as I ran my hands over her body, I could feel the grim reality. Two big lumps under her jaw, another two in from of her shoulder blades on each side, the size of tennis balls, and then two more big lumps in the back of her legs. It was exactly as I’d feared when her mum mentioned the lump to me that morning. I sat there for a moment more, collecting myself to share the bad news.
“All of her lymph nodes are very enlarged,” I explained. “It’s not good news… She has lymphatic cancer. Unless you go down the specialist route, there’s not a lot we can do to help her – and even then they don’t get fantastic results, and she’d have to go onto chemotherapy.” Her mums face crumpled gently with grief as I spoke, and I had to hold back some tears myself. She loved her dog very deeply. “What I can offer you is some palliative care for her – we can put her on high doses of cortisone, and this will give her some relief for anything from a couple of weeks to maybe a month or two. She’s likely to perk up, and then when she get’s worse again, we will have to help her move on.”
Her mum looked at me, eyes miserable, and took a deep breath.
“Ok,” she said, bravely. “I’d like to try some herbal tinctures first though? And if they make no difference I’ll use the cortisone.”
“Of course,” I replied. “I’ll dispense the tablets for you, and then the other very important therapy is to spoil her rotten with all the love you have in you while she’s still here. Do be aware that the cortisone will make her very hungry, and she’ll probably get fat.”
“She does love her food,” her mum said, with a sad smile.
We sat and chatted about this and that, avoiding the topic of her dog like a deeply embedded splinter while we enjoyed our cups of tea. I had to get home, so I farewelled her mum with a hug, and got into my van. I heaved a sigh as I backed out – it’s never easy to have to share news like that, and the closer friends the people are, the harder it gets.