For each PuppyUp Walk, the Event Manager and their Walk Team select both a Human Cancer Hero and a Canine Cancer Hero, to be honored during the Walk ceremonies.
These Heroes are chosen because of their exemplary attitude towards their particular type of cancer, showing bravery and hopefulness in their fight against this terrible disease.
Bob was rescued in 2009 in Southern California by my husband Brandyn. Bob had been pulled from a dog fighting ring, had been very clearly physically beaten and was a dog that the shelter considered hard to re-home because of his size, 100 lbs, and history. When Brandyn went to find a dog and they said “well there’s one in the back and today’s his last day if no one adopts him.” The decision was made. When Bob and Brandyn met it was a match made in heaven. Brandyn’s dad had recently died and he was looking for something to love and Bob simply wanted to be loved and have a buddy.
Brandyn is a tattooer and machinist. Bob has been by his side in the tattoo shop, the machine shop, driving cross country and moving from Los Angeles to Nashville in 2012. I met Bob in 2013 and he quickly allowed me to be his mommy. I gave him a schedule, a meal plan and love by adding some structure and mommy energy to his life and a break from the bachelor days.
Last April, Bob injured his knee while playing. We instantly knew it was probably going to be a big impact. He ended up needing an ACL surgery that happened the week after we got married. The next week our other dog Milton was diagnosed with an extremely advanced form of cancer. We went save him mode even against many opinions that it was futile. We changed his diet to a keto/raw diet, used chemo, had surgery to remove his spleen, and several other emergency procedures. In the meantime, Brandyn read a book about helping your dog through cancer and called naturopaths and vets all over the country. We fought for our Milton even though it was so hard for him to keep nutrition down. To his last day he loved taking walks and eating hamburger meat but eventually we lost him on July 18, 2018.
With sadness and loss in our hearts we moved on to saying goodbye to Milton and taking care of Bob and our other dog Crosby. For Bob that meant twice a week physical therapy in the water tank for rehabilitation of his knee as well as specialized exercise routines.
Last September we noticed some blood in Bob’s water bowl, which would not necessarily be abnormal because he has always had sensitive gums. When the bleeding didn’t stop, we took him to his Veterinarian. Bob was eventually diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer in his jaw. The tumor was fairly large and started impacting and putting pressure on one of his eyes. We were told that Bob had 4-6 weeks to live and they would be fairly painful for him. Alternatively he could receive radiation for the tumor and hope for several more months. On October 24-25, 2018 Bob received radiation therapy in Knoxville at UofT. While the recovery from radiation has had its ups and downs, we immediately noticed relief. Some of his discomfort fell away instantly and even while we had about two weeks of disturbance to his bathroom schedule, we saw interesting changes happening right away. His drool was this intensely stinky mucus-like substance that while not lovely to deal with, we learned meant the radiation was working rapidly and powerfully. We couldn’t believe how quickly the tumor shrank. Bob had one more procedure in December to remove some of the bony tumor in his mouth to make it more comfortable to eat.
I believe we have given Bob more life, maybe in length but certainly in depth, by giving him road trips and certainly by showing up to take care of and enjoy life with him through the journey. He will always need a “wheel barrow” up the stairs because he and Brandyn must sleep side by side. He will always sleep with a belly band so no one gets stressed when there is just too much water in that bladder when he wakes up. He will always need me to trick him into eating his meds and need a booty lift after he falls down drinking his water. It’s been a less than graceful at times growing experience but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve all done and the way we are handling the journey.