She has a lot of nick names:
None of them really made much sense until we started calling her Benjamin Button. Have you ever seen that movie? It's terrible, to be quite honest. But just in case you missed out it's about a baby who is born looking and feeling like an old man (wrinkles, arthritis, etc.) and as he ages gets younger and younger. My dog exactly. She's my hero.
I get a lot of questions about Daphnie ever since she was diagnosed with cancer back in September. It's no secret she's a huge (if not the most important) part of my life. I've had people who have never met her tell me they feel like they know her because she's so often the star of my blog. Those of you with dogs can probably understand why. I'm 24 and this year she'll turn 12. She's been with me for half of my life. And honestly sometimes I don't know how I ever lived the first half without her. My boyfriend says he's met a lot of dogs and never met one with as much personality as her. So, I decided a public update was long over due.
The type of cancer is mast cell skin cancer. She apparently has had it for a very long time because the first skin growth appeared years ago when I lived in Oklahoma. The vet reassured me it was nothing to be concerned about. Looking back on that moment now is hard because if they would have just done further testing a lot of where we are today could be different. The second growth showed up not long before I moved to Colorado. It was smaller but I started to get concerned. She had also struggled for a couple years with being overweight (something again the vet told us was my fault.) I had done everything I could, changing/monitoring her food and making sure she got daily exercise. Nothing seemed to work until we moved to Colorado. Having access to so many trails was wonderful. I was able to take her off the leash and let her run and play. In addition we started going to a new vet clinic that has been nothing but wonderful. They tested her skin lumps and did a full senior screening. The lumps were cancer and her weight issue was a severely high thyroid.
Ever since then she's been on medication for the thyroid and a pain reliever for her arthritic pain. I had a lot of options for the cancer, none of which I did. The financial, emotional, and physical expense it was going to put Daphnie and I both under wasn't worth it to me. The new medications alone were already improving her overall mood, health, and appearance. I just wanted her to continue living her natural, healthy life. I knew the road ahead wouldn't be easy, but that we'd take it one day at a time.
The last 8 months have been amazing to watch. She actually lost so much weight that I had to change her food to help her gain a couple pounds back. When we take our daily walk at least one person asks:
"How old is your puppy!!?"
"No, eleven years."
She walks with a bounce in her step, her fur started growing in fluffy (thanks to her regulated thyroid), and she could now do amazing stunts like jump onto the bed or couch all on her own. (Something she hadn't been able to do in years.) I even went running with her. Running. When we first moved here she could barely go uphill without getting out of breath. Like I said, she's my hero.
And then two weeks ago we had a scare.
Long story short, the cancer has started affecting her digestive system. After 5 new medications and half my paycheck later I had her home on a strict new diet and pill schedule. Chad and I gave her reiki and I cried a lot. My nerves were so shot that even I got sick. We've slowly weened her off of half the medication and as she felt more and more normal, so did I. I've never been more excited to see her poop! A good, old fashioned, normal poop. Of course the cancer isn't gone, and underneath neither are the problems I'm sure will arise in the future. But for now, things are good. I'll say it again, she truly is my hero.