What is NOT cancer 18

Driving up to my Aunt Nancy’s ranch in the Trinity Alps in far northern California, where she has stunning views of snow-capped peaks, a few hay fields, a lovely ranch house with a wrap-around porch, chickens, a root cellar, and a litter of seven German Shepherd puppies. My daughter’s idea of paradise.

Keeping our promise of a puppy to our daughter. We made a commitment that we would get a puppy when we moved, then a biopsy made us edit that to: “We’ll get a puppy when the worst of cancer treatment is over.” We make the drive just four days after my last radiation treatment.

Marveling at how much the puppy has grown in a couple months. Jake was about the size of a human baby when we saw him about seven weeks earlier. He’s not-so-miniature dog by the time we pick him up.

This is how big he was on June 14. He has grown to practically double this size as of this writing, three weeks later. He grows like a tomato plant. You can almost watch it! Is it possible for him to outgrow a crate originally purchased for adult Rottweiler? It seems so...

Questioning our sanity, as sweet as Jake is. Everyone we meet tells us how gi-normous he’s going to be.

Mediating between the puppy and the other animals in the house. The older dog, Kit, 12, pouts for several weeks, and snaps a couple times over food. She’s now figured out that Jake arrival means a shower of training treats. She even plays with him. The cat, who affects complete unconcern about undignified canines has yet to rake the puppy across the nose.

Wishing the cat would make a clawed statement. The puppy can fit the cat’s entire head in his mouth, for heaven’s sake.

Remembering the joys of house-training: urine remover, old rags, and a turn outside every 90 minutes.

Saying “No bites!” over and over and over. Saying, “Good pee, Jake!” over and over and over. Saying, “No!” over and over and over.

Giving thanks that German Shepherds are so smart. He learns “No bites,” and “sit” in about a day. He’s mostly house-trained now, except for an occasional territorial squirt.

Jake keeps watch over Erin, swimming in a wetsuit. Note all the snow at Donner Pass in the distance. That water is COLD.

Remembering many lovely childhood camping trips at Donner Lake, by going camping there yet again.

Going puddle jumping in Golden Gate Park during a freak June rain storm.

Mud is good.

Getting a little stressed about the three weeks of June “puppy camp,” with Erin and dogs and endless time but no time off. How do teachers manage it?

Stinson Beach, July 4, 80 degrees. Husband and dogs cavorting. What could be better?

Enjoying fog-free days at the beach. At least 7 or 8 in the last couple weeks!


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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