Nobody wants to be here. Yes, we are all grateful this place exists. But, truly, nobody wants to be here. As I log into Facebook, it’s one of the first posts that pops up:
“It’s Monday. How are you and your sweet doggie today?” Always followed by three purple hearts.
That’s when I start reading all the replies about which of the members are on their third round of chemo for their dog, what meds are working, what side effects are increasing or decreasing, whose dog is nearing the end, and what decisions need to be made by the humans who would do anything for a little more time.
Earlier this year, on my birthday, we found out that our ten-pound ruler of the house, Moose, was diagnosed with High Grade B-Cell lymphoma. Not knowing anything about this particular disease in dogs, I thought, “Well, we will fight it with everything we can and get her cured.”
But there is no “cured” from canine lymphoma. Without treatment, most dogs live a few months. With treatment, a year.
It is overwhelming to get a diagnosis like that for anyone, including a three-year-old spicy squirrel like our Moose. You feel like you need to become an expert overnight: knowing treatment options, what food and supplements might make a difference, where to get the best treatment, and a million other questions that no one in your life has dealt with, but you have to figure out.
And so that’s why I joined a group of strangers on the internet called Fighting Canine Lymphoma, where we support each other, ask for advice, share hope when something is going well, and cry together when things are not.
Nobody wants to be a part of this group because it has only one criteria — your dog is sick and is going to be taken from you way too soon.
Nobody wants to leave this group because that would mean you’ve lost your dog to lymphoma. But everyone who is a part of this group? Is so grateful it’s there.
As someone who is in this most hopeless of battles, I have found one of the most hope-filled groups of humans I have ever been a part of.
While I know some of the people in this group follow Christ, this isn’t a Christian group. But these people have been the hands and feet of Christ to me, and to others who are going through this battle.
- They share hope. When things are going well for their dog, they share that part of their journey to give others hope. We learn to cherish the good days.
- They share comfort. The love shown in this group, from hurting person to hurting person, is remarkable. We begin our own healing by helping others heal.
- They are patient with one another. When a member is venting against a doctor, a spouse, or this terrible disease, other members patiently listen and “get” why there is so much anger in ways that someone who hasn’t been through this would have a hard time understanding.
- They give what they can. So often, someone is offering to ship their dog’s food, supplements, and even, when appropriate, medications to a family that is still fighting this battle.
- They mourn together. When someone is grieving (as is almost a daily occurrence in this group) others come alongside them, speak words of comfort, and ask them about the one they lost.
Without even realizing it, this group is living out Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
No one knows anyone’s religious background, financial status, or who they voted for in the last election. What we do know is that we are all going through something terrible, but it’s made a little less terrible because we are going through it together.
I am learning to be a better, kinder follower of Christ, and, well, just a better human being by being a member of this group.
Some things in this life we can’t control, but love and support from others can take a little bit of the sting out of hardship. And on the other side, loving and supporting others who are going through what you’ve gone through gives value to an experience that you would never want or wish on anyone.
We are designed to be in community with each other. Our hearts long for community, not just in celebration, but in mourning. Community helps us fulfill the purpose God created us for.
Are you overcommitted, overstressed, or just plain overwhelmed? Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory have been there. Their devotional, An Abundant Place will give you greater peace and perspective, and a plan for managing your busy life.
Krista C. says
I’m sorry to hear about your pup, Kathi.
I appreciate this reminder of ways we can show up for others during difficult seasons & how it can be a reflection of God’s love.
I had a dog several years ago that was diagnosed with a heart condition and given just a few months to live. With amazing specialized veterinarians, she made it a few more years. It’s a challenging battle for sure. Sending prayers!
Andrea C says
Sorry to hear about your beloved Moose. Hoping you are able to give him some comfort during this season, and I’m sure all the extra love he can handle! As much as I don’t love social media, I’ve also landed in a FB community group for infant loss, again the group no one wants to be part of, and I too have found so much encouragement there, as well as shared much with others. We have very parallel experiences and your blog made we smile with gratitude this morning for the redemptive qualities of FB and that God can build community and his kingdom anywhere.
Ruth Mills says
My heart hurts for your journey with Moose. I also rejoice for the gift of community you have been given. Another slice of God’s character & kindness revealed thru the hardship of life this side of heaven! Sending prayers, hugs & belly rubs to Moose & “his pets”. Blessings!
We have gotten a similar diagnosis for both a collie and a cat in past years. It’s a rough road, for sure, but glad you have the support and an example of what we all should be to one another. I know you are appreciating every moment and every day, another lesson this teaches us. By the way, I rather think the cat’s diagnosis was a God thing, (He and I did have a discussion about this but I finally accepted it as part of His loving , good will.) My vet, who’s is also my friend was dealing with her mom having brain cancer. She is an incredibly private person and never talked about what she was going through except when we talked about dear Willoughby, his treatments, his quality of life and how hard all of this was, soon she would start talking about her mom. It sounds unlikely but I truly believe it was part of His plan to help her deal with what she was going through…..
Blessings and big hug to you and Moose!
Kathi, so glad you are blessed and a blessing in this group!
Wish that most Christians and churches would provide this kind of support and encouragement to families and individuals affected by disabilities.
Debbie Nance says
Oh Kathi. I am so sorry. I hurt for you and your family and this sweet love bug. Praying for all of you.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Kathi been were you are with your dog. They an animal they become you life. You live for them and you love them maybe more than you love yourself. I broke my heart over a beautiful cat we had we called her Mittens. She was all black with four white paws. One day I saw she couldn’t walk probably this years ago. I looked at her and saw her foot was swollen and badly. She was one of those cats me and my Husband loved. If you didn’t give her attention she jump up on your shoulders and pur round you and gently head but you for attention. Then when she got your attention. She sit on your knee to get stroked. She followed me everywhere like a dog. I had her spoilt. I love her like a baby. My Husband said Dawn you adore mittens and she adores you. I wrap her up at night in a blanket with a soft pillow under her. She fall asleep there until morning. But we broke our hearts when the vet tried everything to make her well. She couldn’t be made well. My Husband and I had to get her out down it broke out hearts. But a friend of mine a good friend sent me a message in the post it helped me alot as I took it worse than Husband when we had to get her out down. My friend said Dawn she gone to Rainbow Bridge. She be there until you day to leave earth. When you go to glory. Then she be waiting for you at the gate Heaven for you and her to live with Jesus for ever. I took comfort in that. Even if that not true or it is true. I know God gave me Mittens for the time we had her to spoilt her. Like a dog we had too. We had to get him put down a Labrador we got at animal sanctuary heard were we live. He took throat cancer. We couldn’t make him better or put him on treatment. As were the cancer was in throat. Even if we tried to cut it away by letting the vets do that. He would have stilled died. He was in pain and not eating. So we had to also have it put down. No matter what when an animal dies no matter how they die should it be old or have to be our down. Or going to die through time because they are ill. You break your heart over them. Like me and my Husband we thank God for the years we had all our pets before they died of ill health in the end. As we had a cross labour. She just dropped dead after a short walk. So we said no more animals. As too heart breaking when they die. We thank God for giving them to us for the years we had them all our pets. I do feel for you with your dog. For the time he has left you if I was you. I just spoilt him and thank God he came into your life when he did. I will keep you in prayer for you dog. Love this post. As I read it. I said God thank you for all the lovely pets you gave me and my Husband to look for the time you did so we could love them and spoil them. Now my elderly Dad has a black Labrador she is 14 now. My Dad has over fed her. So he is bit over weight. My Dad can’t walk her anymore as not able. So I walk her for my Dad. I got l love her as if she was my own. I buy her special dog bones for her teeth and bones. To help her as I love her so much. I knowy Dad will break his heart when she dies. It could be because he over feeds her he can’t be told not to give her human food. Just her own. The vets have told her to give one her own food. But he doesn’t listen. I said to him too. So I break my heart when that happens too. But God showed me in all things in life even animals as well as Humans nothing lives for ever. We just have to love them and spoil them for time God give them to us. My Dad dog loves to see me come every day as she knows I will spoil her and she loves to go for short walks with me. Can’t because of her age anymore go on big walks. My Dad will say when see the dog excited to see me. There your friend so glad to see you. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Xx
Beth Williams says
We were not designed to do life alone. God said it is not good for man to be alone Genesis 2:18.
It is important to tell your story so others know they are not alone in this journey. Each person understands the long journey you are on. Everyone can offer hope, comfort & a willing support system. That makes life a bit easier to handle. Prayers for your dog & family.