Dying with a Dog.

Sometimes I forget that I have stage IV cancer, and I even forget that there is no stage V.

I will be sitting at my computer, surfing the internet, enjoying a blog, feeling happy and free, and then I click on the far right tab of my internet browser.

Suddenly I remember that I was previously looking at the cancer.org website. On that web page I can see a picture of a man’s lip. It has a hideous, bleeding open sore on it, the size of a small grape—which is a malignant lesion.

And that is when I say to myself, “Oh yeah, my immunotherapy, the drug which fights my type of cancer, it can actually cause another type of cancer in my body, as a side effect.”

That is just one of the health-giving side effects of my immunotherapy. Not to mention full body rashes, liver and kidney failure or just outright dying because the medicine interferes with my heart beat.

After I finish my panic and self-pity, I take a deep breath, turn my office chair around, and see my dog in his dog bed. I talk to him about being scared. He does not understand a word of what I am saying, but he knows the tone of my voice. And he mentally registers something, and at that point he puts his cold wet nose on my shin.

And that is when I know that if I wake in the middle of the night, at home, alone, and I realize that I am dying, I do not have to be afraid; because my dog will be there, in the bed, sleeping right there beside me. I will just reach over, and put my hand on my dogs’ body, I will feel his warmth, and I will feel his heart beating against my palm. And at that moment I will know that everything will be o.k.—no matter what.