A month ago to the day, Ben, my boxer dog, was diagnosed with lymphoma. It’s hard, but that’s life.
Since then Ben’s treatment has been adjusted a few times, I’ve come to judge dog food by how well it’ll disguise medication and I’ve learnt to appreciate injectable anti-emetics.
More importantly, Ben is his lovable, clownish self and I’ve already enjoyed his company for longer than nature would have allowed (without medical intervention).
As they say in the media: This is a developing story.
It was a cold Friday afternoon on May 7, 2021, and I had been crouched uncomfortably on the floor next to the low table where Ben had been subjected to a number scans for what had felt like days when the specialist vet paused and looked straight at my fogged-up glasses.
Then she said, “Okay. So, it’s bad.”
And before that could really sink in she added, “But you knew that when you walked in here.”
She was right. Although a small part of me had desperately hoped that she could just fix him up, I knew that would not be the case.
Sooner or later bad news comes your way — that, too, is life.
Ben is 6 years, 8 months and 4 days old today. He has stage IVb multicentric lymphoma. He’s responding well to treatment.
Boxers typically have a life expectancy of 10 years. Neither of my previous two boxers reached 10.
It is now likely that lymphoma will eventually take Ben, and it most probably won’t take 3 years.
But life can’t really be measured in numbers.
I want to stop short of stringing together a bunch of cliches about the fragility of life and the need to savour it.
What I will say is this: Now more than ever my heart goes out to everyone who has had to face a process like this under any circumstances whatsoever.
I’ve loved Ben since the first time I saw him. Every day with him is precious and even when the inevitable heartbreak comes — it’ll all still be worth it a thousand times over.