His Name is Thunder

His name is Thunder and my boy is eleven years and a few months.  He, at one time, was very regal looking – both parents were yellow labs and his dad was 125 lbs.  Thunder was barrel chested, with muscular legs and just an all around strong looking dog.  His bark could scare anyone – a deep, throaty, husky “a-woooof!!” as he looks at you, his muscular frame seeming to say that he is, by all accounts, a dog of stature.  Now he is very frail, and you can count the amount of ribs sticking out.   I won’t pretend that Thunder is an overzealous guard dog or that he stalks small dogs for kicks.  Thunder is loyal, I’ll give him that, but he is timid, docile and is constantly fretting about something or other.  Everything makes him nervous and jumpy, like walking across the floor, going downstairs, if someone hollers while watching a hockey game on television, or a loud rain storm.  The dog shivers and shakes himself into a frenzy. 

Right now Thunder is lying on a warm dog bed in my bedroom. He’s got all of his favourite stuffies lying all around him, and every so often he gets up and stumbles around, looking confused.  Thunder has dementia…along with water on his lungs, hips that are giving out, and a lack of appetite.  My husband and I have been constantly monitoring him; we refuse to keep him here any longer than should be, as that would be selfish.  When his time comes to put him down, we will, and have known this all along.  We have taken him regularly to the vet to get assessed, to pick up new meds, and to let ourselves know that he will be with us for at least another short spell – he always is deemed okay when he is examined.

Thunder, in a matter of a week or two, has declined to such a degree that we know that keeping him alive is not an option.  He is no longer Thunder – in fact, he’s no longer a dog.  We have an appointment to take him in one final time to the vet’s office tomorrow.  We’re letting our little boy free, to remember where he is, and to no longer endure constant panting.  I told him earlier that we’re taking him to see his sister tomorrow and to get himself ready for a wonderful visit.

I’m crying as I write this.  He is my baby.  I’ve said it so many times before; the only bad thing about a dog is they don’t live long enough.  I wish I could help Thunder somehow, but it looks like the only help I can give him is to make him free from pain.  If there is a heaven, I know he’ll head there to meet up with his sister who passed on seven years ago and who he loved.  He’ll also meet up with other dogs that were a part of our family long before he became such a wonderful family member.  I’m hoping my Dad is there waiting for him, ready to take him for a long walk with no sore joints, and above all, a beautiful lake to swim in.  Thunder loved so much to swim. 

You were a true friend, Thunder.  You were part of many highs and lows in my life, and you loved me unconditionally.  Know that you are loved so much, that you have given us only beautiful memories, and that we will, one day, meet again.  I love you with all my heart, little guy.  Give the others a kiss for me and tell them they are remembered as well, and even after all of these years, the love I have for them (and now you) will never dissipate – somehow it only gets stronger.  I love you, my good boy.


A Lifetime Friend

They say that people come into your life for a reason, season or forever.  What about dogs?  Why do they come into your life?  Usually you are the one who knows that answer as you’re the one that purchased or adopted that furry bundle of joy.  Maybe you need some extra exercise, so walking a dog every day would accommodate that.  Maybe you’re concerned about safety – a guard dog would help alleviate your fears.  Maybe you just want to feel that feeling of unconditional love.  Take a deep look into those eyes and tell me you don’t feel an immediate tug at your heart.  You’re smitten, and so is your dog!

We bought my dog Thunder eleven years ago at a dog breeding facility close to home.  The day arrived when we were to pick up our new bundle of joy.  We had a dog reserved for us – a male, and we were given his litter number.  We arrived and were taken to the barn where both the boys and the girls were kept.  We were about to be introduced to our reserved pup when the telephone rang and the woman who worked at the kennel had to go and answer the call.  She said to take a look around and she’d be back in a minute.  I had my handbag on the ground and Thunder came scampering up and tried to run away with my purse! He was just a furry little bundle of yellow, no make that white fur.  Even though he is a yellow lab he really has a white tint to his fur.  I checked the tattoo in his ear – he wasn’t our reserved pup and my heart kind of sank a bit.  He definitely wanted to bond, and I was anxious for the kennel employee to end her phone conversation and return to us so we didn’t get any more attached to this beautiful dog.

“He ran away with my purse!”, I laughed, when the employee returned.  My husband came over and casually intervened.  “A cute little guy! Is he taken?” 

No, Thunder was not taken.  In fact no one had reserved him.  His sisters and his  brothers had all been reserved, but he somehow fell through the cracks.  “You can take him if you want him.”, advised the employee.  Right on queue, Thunder grabbed my purse and headed for the door and my life really has not been the same since.

Thunder is a sweetheart.  Saying he’s timid is an understatement.  He’s afraid of stairs, flooring, and changes in the surface of floors.  Sudden noises startle him, and the vet’s office petrifies him.  Naps are a hobby; any time of the day you can find Thunder sleeping peacefully on his couch.  In the computer room we have an old loveseat left over from years ago and we cover it with an old comforter.  That’s Thunder’s couch, and does he ever know it! And does he ever use it!

Thunder loves to cuddle and can sense my emotion with a quick sniff of his snout.  He’s been with me for eleven years now, through happy times, sad times, and now my cancer journey.  He is there for me.  Sadly, Thunder is getting on and having health issues of his own.  His hips give out a little on occasion.  He has water on his lungs that he takes medication for.  He pants and drools, and we notice he gets “lost” outside in our back yard, and have noticed other signs of dementia.  He’s in no pain, and absoluely loves his life with us, so for the time being, he’s still our Thunder.  I feel badly; the last year or so my patience hasn’t been the best with everything going on with my cancer, and he and his sister get a lot of my attention and love, but the patience just isn’t there as before, as much as I try.  And just when I’m too hard on myself, his eyes seek mine and a long gaze is held.  I see my furry little pup running through the barn with the strap of my handbag in his mouth, dragging it along the sawdust floor.  I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and as my arms open up wide for a hug we both look forward to, I know he thinks I have all the patience in the world for him and I do, I really do.  My aches and pains subside, the thoughts of my cancer’s progression are put on hold, and all I want to do is melt into my eleven year old puppy’s soft fur and have him give me reprieve from the everyday battles that life can sometimes offer.  And I know that everything is going to be just fine. 

Sometimes I Worry…

Sometimes I worry.  I give off the impression that I am strong, determined, and that nothing can make me break.  I try and see my cancer as a learning tool; something that is shaping me for something better to come.  My friends see this side the most; the worried side is someone they rarely see as I keep a lot to myself.  Sure, even I believe I am strong and I will beat this disease.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I get scared.  And I break a little.  And I cry to myself in the safety of my home office or on a walk by myself.  I’m so scared.  This is just crazy – this amount of cancer in me, and for what?  Why?  I feel that I am destined to do something else.  The life that I had before cancer was not fulfilling, and my God did I know it.  I went off on sick leave, not so much for the cancer but just to give me some peace of mind.  At the time I was dying, and well, I didn’t have to be dying there at work.  I received a card from my co-workers.  Written in very small letters, in a little corner of this huge hand made card were the words “God has a special plan for you”.  It was initialled, but no matter how many times I try and figure out whose initials those belong to, I just can’t determine who the author is.  Even though this person remains nameless, they have kept me going.  

Cancer, as you can well imagine, is a horrible, debilitating disease.  There are times, however, when things can sometimes go well, and right now I’m at that stage.  “Stable Disease” they call it.  I get tired out easily, my body aches at times, but I am alive.  I am so thrilled to just be alive! So when things go wrong, they just don’t seem so bad.  In the big scheme of things they are such small items of worry.  But they are there – financial worries are the main ones.  And those small, trivial problems are what create more fresh tears.  I can handle cancer, I can handle never knowing when my time is up, but I’ve had it with the other parts of life this disease has eaten away at.  

But as soon as I ponder the predicament I’m in, or rather the predicament that my husband and I are in, the tears stop flowing.  I’m alive! I woke up today! Another day to explore and enjoy! So things are wonderful and I accept what life has brought to the table as an offering.  I just wish the hot water tank was not dying! 

This Really Is “Just a Thought”

I was flipping through the internet, attempting to get ideas for a few good blog entries.  I came across The Daily Post at WordPress.com.  There were a few great suggestions but nothing I really wanted to write about.  Let’s face it – if all bloggers out there in cyberland chose this method of planning a topic idea, the blogs would be pretty much the same.  But then I came across one that said “Do we live life forward, but examine it backwards?”.  Every person out there with a terminal illness will tell you the same thing – you look at life very differently when it becomes precious to you.  When there is a risk of letting it slip between your fingers, one thing that will never cease to be reflected upon time and time again is our past; those years of sweet ignorance of what lies ahead. 

We steadily live life forward, day in and day out.  We surround ourselves with the familiar; our loved ones, a great career, or maybe even a dismal job but one that holds great benefits or salary.  We have “stuff”, whether it has been passed down to us from past generations or a collection of something that we hold near and dear.  Some of us may participate in recreational activities, such as camping or horseback riding.  These are all things that make us feel safe and give us a sense of stability.  We live life, every day, and we try and get a sense of satisfaction and a large percentage of us indeed achieve that feeling of fulfillment.  Stable.  Safe.  We live life forward.  But tell me something – if you were to die tomorrow, next month, or next year, would you live your life differently?  Would you still feel the same satisfaction?  Would you quit your job that brings in a paycheck but does not fulfill you?  Would you remember that painting hanging in your parents living room from decades past?  The sense of nostalgia running through your veins?  Would it matter?  When you live life forward, you think that these things are what are going to cocoon you, to keep you free of suffering, to keep you close to your roots.   They don’t.

I love to write and I have always been a writer.  I have helped friends with university assignments when I have never been to one of their classes.  I have written long emails to close friends helping them stay afloat when a relationship dies, only to send another one later on that cheers them on when they are feeling triumphant in achieving a goal or a dream.  I’ve written short stories, contributed to a blog about nutrition and other healthy therapies in combating cancer.  I’ve been told that I’m good and that I can pour out my emotions onto a computer screen.  I’ve thought of doing it more, but the thought of doing that was always pushed forward to another time when I might have less stress or life just might be easier.  I examine this backwards; I don’t feel like I’ve let go of a dream.  Even with Stage 4 cancer, and even “terminal” as the oncologist seems to like to call it, I could very well still have time. 

I was thinking today about a painting that hung in my old childhood house in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario.  It was an oil painting, one purchased from a gallery that my mother used to work in.  My mother is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.  My father has been gone for ten years.  I remember that painting, a snowy picture of a couple of cabins nestled in very frigid woods, but with a light glowing inside one of the cabins.  A promise of warmth from a fire that greets the visitor walking up the crisp pathway.  My Dad used to say that it reminded him of where he grew up in Quebec.  He would tell me why he found the picture so peaceful and soothing, and I would catch him gazing at it many times.  After going through my mother’s things, the picture is one of the last things to go.  To ship it somewhere to a relative would cost an absolute fortune, and it would not blend in with the decor in my home, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself.  In fact, I find myself hanging by a thread, swaying in the breeze that surrounds me, and I find myself wanting to move forward, not backward and never allowing life to get stagnant.  That beautiful picture, the one that promised the person visiting the cabin on that freezing night a reprieve from the bitter cold was just a picture.  It exuded a stable atmosphere but it did not offer me any such stability.  I found solace in that picture when I was young, but now that I’m fighting cancer and literally fighting for my life, that picture does not belong in my home.  It represents a different perspective than the one that I now know.  Life moves on.   

So am I living life differently, now knowing that my life is fragile, and not really knowing exactly how long I’ll be around for?  I’m living life now to make up for the 43 years of a life that I played safe – but wasn’t overly happy in.  I’m writing and I’m trying to get my articles published.  I want to succeed at this and I know I still might have time.  But the very best part of my writing?  I love it.  I have never had so much passion for anything else in my life.  It brings me peace; it may even be keeping me alive.  I see the beauty in everything, even the bad.  I’ve learned that every day is an absolute miracle.  I’m living life forward but when I examine it backwards, I hold no regrets.  It’s just that I’m living differently now and absolutely loving life.


Up and Running (Sort of!)

I am a writer.  I love everything there is about the process of putting words onto paper.  My only regret?  That I didn’t attempt to make a living at it! I was well into my forties by the time that I realized I really am good enough to write.  You will find many writers have low self esteem when it comes to their writing ability.  They can be confident and exude charm, but when it comes to pen to paper they turn into a ten year old child.  I started gaining a bit of confidence when various friends saw what I wrote – an email here or there, a written report at work.  Then came along a blog that I have about my cancer and people really took notice.  The only problem?  I pictured these people, some I know well, others not so much,  reading it and wondering, “What does she mean by this or that?”.   Sometimes I feel like I am even possibly being judged.  That puts a damper on the writing, as I write from my heart and from my gut.  It ends up being very personal.  That is the type of writer that I am; emotional and raw.  I talk to many writers about this feeling; everyone seems to feel judged somehow.  And since my other blog is written completely about my cancer, it’s can at times be a very private affair.

Please bear with me while I get this blog into the format I would like.  I’m not particularly fond of the jumbled “justathoughtinmymind” but after trying to change the words to something that can be easily understood, I got a reply back from WordPress saying that this task cannot be completed right now – and try back in a few days!   I’m sure I’ll find some other interesting details and some changes in appearance that I can do with WordPress. 

The photo at the top of my blog is of my “kids” in Tofino, B.C., Canada.  A beautiful area, one that I would enjoy eventually returning to.  The photo was taken during the spring before last, but when I had not yet been diagnosed with my Stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to various parts of my body.  I remember wondering on that trip why I was so tired, and why walking a short length of the beach would leave me exhausted.  I soon found out.  I feel better – my tumours have shrunk in size, and I no longer have debilitating pain in my back and ribs.  I can walk relatively pain-free – and I want to walk that beach once again, this time a walk of someone who is surviving this disease.  Now, as one last learning task for the day, I think I’m going to include some photos below:



The photos are taken of, you guessed it, Tofino, B.C.


I am a 43 year old writer who lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  I am married and have 2 dogs who are like my kids.  Oh ya, and I have this crazy disease called Stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized to various bones and my liver.  One thing I’ve learned is that the world does not stop turning so I’m going to hang on with both hands and enjoy every minute of this wonderful ride!