Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cornell plus three months

On February 3, 2005, the veterinarians at Cornell told us that if the tumor in Haley's chest continued to grow at the rate it had since it was first observed in November 2004, it would probably kill her in two to three months.

It hasn't. She is still alive and kicking, still insisting on her morning walks. Outwardly she appears more healthy than she did when we took her to Cornell. Even as far as symptoms go, her major one - her coughing - has largely subsided.

This may not be as good a sign as it seems. The last time I saw an X-ray of her chest, taken about a month ago, the tumor had gotten much larger than it was in February, expanding to fill almost the whole of one of her lungs. Her coughing at that time was getting more and more desperate, and then one day it stopped - mostly stopped, anyway. I think (I am no vet) that perhaps the presence of a tumor in a partially-functioning lung was a source of irritation to that lung, and the coughing was a futile attempt to dislodge the tumor or increase the capacity of that lung. Once the available space on that side was squeezed to zero (again, I am surmising), the irritation stopped, since there was effectively no more lung to be irritated.

She started coughing again last week, but that seems to have stopped. Has the tumor begun to invade the other lung? Is it just sitting there idle? Or has it spread to other organs?

I don't know. I think the walks do her good, beyond the beneficial effect of exercise in general - maybe the cool morning air is soothing, maybe the semi-brisk pace is helping her to increase the capacity of the remaining lung, maybe something else is going on. I don't know.

Haley is happy. She enjoys her walks. She is not miserable. She is not curled in a ball waiting to die. She has an active life, and a fun one.

And when she dies - and she will die - I will not regret times I didn't spend with her, things I didn't do with her, places I didn't go with her. I will remember the times we spent together, the things we did together, and the places we went together. I will remember her and smile.

And I will mourn.

But not yet.

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