Revisiting cancer

Our 10 year old black lab, Tally, was diagnosed with cancer this winter. She underwent extensive surgery, and seemed back to her old self for several months. Now she is struggling with lymphedema, swelling in the leg and chest from her mastectomy, which is also a common complication in women who've undergone the same surgery. Overnight, she deteriorated rapidly, and seems to have aged years in just a few days.

Wanting the children to be ready, we talked about Tally's health and seemingly imminent death this afternoon. The tears fell fast and hard, and there's been a lot of cuddling for Tally. She's loving the extra attention.

News like this is even more difficult for children who've had a parent with cancer. Anything cancer related, even in their pet, brings out buried fears and grief from those cancer years of mine. They are afraid that if Tally dies of cancer, I might, too.

And so we make plans to take our beloved black dog on our South Carolina vacation with us, to form some last memories. I'm sure the time spent at the beach and on the river with Tally will loom large in their memories of childhood. We've wrapped her leg and chest to help relieve the swelling, and she seems a bit better this afternoon. My heart aches for the kids as theirs aches for their pet.