Tag Archives: cancer

Dogs, Their Testicles, & Cancer

13 Jan

In a moment of weakness in which I lacked inspiration, a friend of mine wanted to know how I feel about neutering too early, a correlation with cancer, and behavior problems.

First of all, I’ll say I’m not a vet. I did, however, do a brief search on the topic and was almost instantly overwhelmed. The most glaring problem I see with the statement “neutering too early causes cancer” is how much we like to throw around the word causes. Are we sure it causes cancer? If you ask me, and this is even coming from someone who lost someone to cancer less than a month ago, everything causes cancer. Eating eggs, drinking too much milk, not jogging enough, jogging too much, looking at cats on the internet, sex, everything. This means that I don’t really care. BUT, just because we see an increase in cancer does not mean the cancer is the cause. It could be just a correlation without any causative effects.

This could be something as convoluted as neutering causes a decrease in secondary sexual characteristics and behavior, that could lead to behavior patterns leading to an early death, thus extending the lifespan and due to the lengthened life span and the natural course of senescence, cancer becomes more frequent. If a human dies at 34, they are much less likely to have had cancer than someone who dies at 95. Plain and simple.

Finally, to someone who is not a vet (I can’t stress that enough), I don’t immediately see a reason why this would cause cancer. Cancer is just a tendency for cells to lose their regulation and divide uncontrollably. This procedure doesn’t continually damage cells, causing them to need to grow and divide. But like I said, I’m not super up-to-date on my literature, so that is just a speculation and a plea to make sure you question everything you read, even science.

On the other side of this testicle fence lives the behavior behind neutering. By neutering a dog, you are ridding that dog of hormones that cause secondary sexual characteristics and behaviors to arise. Mounting behavior is one of these, and is usually very problematic for dog owners. Other dogs don’t generally like it, and it tends to cause fights to happen. Energy levels see a decline in dogs that are neutered as well, as does aggression. If we neuter a dog before it begins to develop sexually, we can stop these behaviors before they happen or become very, very hard to change.

I think the biggest thing to consider here is how dedicated of an owner you are. If you adopt a high energy dog such as a lab or pit bull, and choose to keep him intact, you are likely going to see extreme levels of energy, mounting and sexual behavior, increased likelihood of aggression, and marking. Lots and lots of marking. Once these behaviors are solidified, it is difficult to intervene and most of the time owners tend to just manage them. If an owner can’t manage them, that is when shelters see dogs with behavior issues such as “marking”, “inappropriate mounting”, and “dog aggression” come through their doors. From what I’ve seen, most folks can’t handle a high energy dog, either.

There is a reason why we look at dogs that come in the shelter with behavior problems and say well maybe if they neutered their dog they wouldn’t have this problem…a

BUT. If you neuter your dog before these characteristics develop, you’re much less likely to see them develop in the future. Dogs are more likely to stay in their homes with their owners, and with a healthy lifestyle, can look forward to many, many years…without marking the couch, the chair, and the door frame.

You’re also much less likely to have any oops-my-dog-bolted-out-the-door-and-got-all-the-neighborhood-dogs-pregnant incidents.

Thoughts? Are your pets spayed or neutered?

[Hopefully] Happy New Year

31 Dec

While I know that when I wake up tomorrow, life won’t be suddenly rainbow and butterflies, but with the beginning of a new year upon us, I can only hope that the next one will be better.

I hope that it will be a time of healing, a time of self-discovery, a time of exploration, and most of all…a time of happiness.

The past year and a half has challenged me with multiple deaths, homelessness, losing friends, and more downs than ups. I can’t imagine what life could possibly throw at me in the coming year that would be worse.

Actually, I can imagine. But I’d rather not.

I’d rather just hope that the universe has kept me down and out for long enough, and that I’m on my way up.

I sure could use a bit of that happiness I hear of…

Cheers!

Dear Dad [Rest in Peace]

26 Dec

DSC00466

Dear Dad,

I called you dad, pa, daddy, Roberto, papa. You called me Michelleeanna, Annie, hot rod…Anner Nanner.

You’ve been the best father that a girl could hope for, and you’ve been with me through every moment of my life, big or small. As we go through your belongings, we find things that bring back the best memories…memories I’ll cherish the rest of my life. You may be gone in body, now, but you’ll never be gone in spirit.

The day of my wedding, you’ll be there.
The day I finally buy a house, you’ll be there.
The day I graduate with my next degree…you’ll be there.

You live on in me and my sister, our mother, and your grand children.

I find solace knowing that you are finally at peace, and that your pain has ended. You fought a good fight, Dad, and I knew that no matter the outcome, the day you told me I’m going to fight this damn cancer  that everything would be okay. And I know that as much as I love you, and I admire you that you love me and are proud of me.

Everything I’ve done until this day, and everything I’ll do in the future is to make you and Mom proud of me. You are such a major part of who I are, and who I’ve become. You’re the fire to my phoenix.

I know that you held on as long as you did for us, to make sure we were ready and that we would be okay once you were gone. Thank you for that. I know it was a hard, long struggle. I know you were worried. But we will be okay. I got to spend one last Christmas with my papa, even if you were only hanging on by a thread, even if you couldn’t sit with us next to the Christmas tree…I got to sing Christmas carols to you, and buy you one last Christmas present, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

I’ll miss you. I love you.

Give ’em hell, Dad

Rest in Peace
12.26.14
2:19 pm

When “Alone” Doesn’t Begin to Cover It: Being the “Balanced” One

2 Dec

Over Thanksgiving, I was once again reminded of my role in the family: the balanced one. I don’t know how I got stuck with that title, but it appears I have no choice. My sister and my mother can’t seem to stand each other. One owes the other, and one can’t see that she’ll never be repaid. They are both anxious and nervous, and can’t seem to talk to one another even on the eve of my fathers death.

So Mom comes to me to cry about everything because my sister isn’t talking to her. My sister comes to me to cry about everything because she isn’t talking to my mom. No one seems to be able to remain calm but me.

Balance.

Being the balanced one means I don’t get a lot of time to be unbalanced, which sometimes I so desperately need. I have to be balanced, because if I become unhinged like everyone else, the world plummets into chaos. And I can’t handle chaos.

It’s lonely when you’re balanced.

My mother told me something on the phone the other day that I just can’t seem to shake. I know it’s true, and I know that means I’ll be alone. She told me, when talking about the grief counselor that hospice sends over once a week, that herself, my sister, and I will each need someone to be our rock on that day, and that my mom doesn’t think she will be able to do it.

I haven’t heard such a truthful statement.

And on that day, I will be the loneliest, most alone person on the planet. My mom has the grief counselor, my sister has her husband, and me…well…

I have no one.

But I’m the balanced one. And the balanced one must remain balanced, so naturally I will use logic to assess my emotions, that my emotions are valid, that death is necessary and predictable, and that having no one is a result of being balanced. Because only the balanced one can be okay without someone else to balance for them.

And on that day, I fear nothing more than my entire family becoming unhinged and estranged from one another, simply because the person who made the balanced person balance, is gone.

Death: Logic & Reason VS. Feelings & Emotion

27 Oct

I tend to be a very logical person. A great example (at least to me) was the time that I blacked out in a hotel. Once I started to come to, my first full thought was “Please don’t need to go to the doctor to get IV fluids”.

Or, when I get broken up with or rejected or anything of that nature, I always acknowledge that it’s okay if you don’t like me. It is. You can’t force anyone to like you or to love you, and we don’t have control over our feelings.

I do tend to be a very sensitive individual, too. I don’t have any great examples for that one, so you’ll just have to trust me.

With death, and this may be a “me” thing or an “everyone” thing, I find that these two seemingly contradictory processes makes dealing difficult.

My dad has officially been placed on hospice care. The treatment for his cancer is too hard on his body, and he has been given only a couple of months to live. I can only hope that is a conservative guess, and that he might have something closer to 4 or 6 months.

Being faced with my father passing soon, I find myself conflicted. I just don’t know how to feel.

Death is probably the most logical, reasonable, and expected thing in life. We know it’s coming from the second we know what death is. It happens to everyone and everything, and the only thing we don’t necessarily know is when and how. Because it is such a logical thing, I feel like I’m being somewhat cold to the situation. Of course I think it is too soon, and if I had a choice my dad wouldn’t have to leave me, but he does. If it wasn’t soon, it would be later, and it would still happen. It  will happen to my mom and my sister, and eventually me and my husband. My nieces and nephews. All of us.

But like I said, I’m a sensitive soul. I’m torn up that I’m losing my father. He won’t get to walk my down the aisle when I get married. He won’t see me get my next degree. I won’t be able to take care of him when he gets older and I have the ability. There are so many times I turn to my father to make me feel accepted, and happy, and justified in my feelings. I feel frustrated with myself when I start being logical about the situation.

I’m stuck in the middle. One part of me says that I should stay strong and carry on, that feeling overwhelmingly sad is unnecessary. The other part of me says that I should quit my job and glue myself to my dad’s side until he passes and that there should be no moment that I’m not crying.  One part says that it is time to accept what is happening and the other part says do not accept defeat – you aren’t ready to lose Dad yet.

On one hand, I’m quite fortunate to be able to sort these things out [somewhat] before he passes, but on the other, it gives me more time to think things over too much.

How do you deal with death? Do you reason yourself through it, or do you just let the emotion flow? Is this a weird “me” thing, or is this an “everyone” thing? With the death you’ve had to deal with, was it sudden or did you prepare prior to it’s occurrence? 

Quote 22 Oct

Every time I tell someone that I want to get married soon, they say that I have all the time in the world. That I don’t need to rush. What they don’t understand is that the single most important thing to me about getting married is having my father walk me down the aisle. And for that…I have 2 months.

Peace of Mind

12 Sep

This weekend I was finally able to visit my father since the news of hiscancer. I was nervous at first, and then frustrated, but I’m really glad I went because even though the news hasn’t changed and progress hasn’t really been made, I have acquired some peace of mind.

The peace of mind came from two things. Two very simple things.

The first thing was something I’ve been contemplating since we found out. Should I or shouldn’t I move back to be with my family? My mom tells me just as frequently as I tell her that I should move back. While it definitely would have some perks, I find it hard to abandon my job and my home here to move back home where I may not find a job in my field. I decided that I would ask my dad, and whatever he said I would do. So I did. I’ll not be moving back. He said that there wasn’t anything I could do, and he loves me of course, but he also is pretty level-headed. And its true. I did spend every second I could with my dad on Thursday, but he was only awake for about 8 hours, so while me being there was nice it isn’t like he is spending 16 hours awake alone.

The second thing, which is probably more comforting, is what he said to me this morning before he left for a doctors appointment.

I’ll come up to see you soon. We’ll get this thing shrunken and I’ll come up. I’m going to fight this. I’m a fighter, Annie.

To see that fight still left in my dad was everything I could have asked for. Even if the treatment renders him unable to actually visit me, knowing that he hasn’t given up and wants to win his battle with cancer makes it all okay. And even if we all feel completely defeated right now, he gives me hope.

Faith: A Desperate Man’s Prayer

23 Aug

As I’ve grown older, I’ve almost completely stopped telling people about major events in my life that might garner some sort of sympathy. This is one of those times, but I find that it would be out of character if I didn’t make a point out of life events. It’s kind of my thing.

So, I regret to inform you that my dad has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

I don’t know the type or the prognosis or really much of anything, but my mom says that, while the doctor didn’t say much, it sounds like its terminal. If she is correct, she also didn’t give me a time frame to consider.

I’ve only actually disclosed this to 3 friends, and it was because I knew they wouldn’t have much to say on the matter. No amount of “I’m so sorry” will do anything. Nothing. My situation is not unique. And knowing that my friends are “there for me” doesn’t really do anything for me either (the only thing that might make me feel better is having a man in my life, but oh well).

Death is a fact of life, and I plan to treat is as thus.

It’s almost like a clean slate when you might be dying. You can do whatever you want. Even be reckless if you so desire. Maybe its even liberating.

But, of course, I don’t want to lose my father. I assumed I had at least 10 more years with him, but remarkably, I’ve been preparing myself for the loss of my parents since I was a small child. One night when I was probably 6, I woke up from a nightmare that both my parents had died. I told my mom, through tears, about the dream. She comforted me about this plan God had that one day, he will save the world and people will live forever again as they were once meant to.

I held onto that for years.

Unlike the rest of my family, I have not held onto that faith in a higher power. There are moments when I wish that if I prayed a miracle would happen, and being agnostic makes it even more difficult. And that is how I feel about faith in religion. Desperation. So I hold my faith in science and medicine, as I should. There have been remarkable advancements in cancer treatment, and I think that even if God did exist, he would have given us these tools for us to use.

While I hope that something amazing happens and his cancer goes into remission, I hope, too, that my father is proud of me. The two things I wanted my dad to still be here for were to walk me down the aisle of my wedding, and to see me graduate from vet school. Unfortunately, I’m not close to accomplishing either of those things and I do feel some degree of failure because of that, but deep down I know he is very proud of me (all I really have to do is ask and he’ll boast).

I love him very much, and I hope that if it’s time, I’ll at least be able to get the most knowledge I can out of him before then. Because goodness knows, I feel like I call him every other day asking him how to change or fix or make things.

30 Day Letter Challenge: Dear Person Who Needs to Forgive Me

24 Jun

Dear Person Who Needs to Forgive Me,

In length, my life is remarkably short, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done my share of things that were probably on the edge of terrible.

There is one thing, that only you and a select other few people know of, until now at least, that I’ve done that I really, really wish I hadn’t.

Maybe not done, maybe just thought or said. 

Every day I wish you would forgive me. It’s been about 15 years, and still, nothing.

When Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, I so vividly remember the multiple times I thought I’d tell my parents “I told you so” if they got lung cancer. Every time they lit a cigarette, I was so upset. I thought and maybe even said things that I can’t even get up the courage to say now, and I don’t even know if I told them or if I just kept it to myself.

Regardless…no, Dad. I will not say I told you so. I will not rejoice that you may have gotten a lesson for your years of smoking. I will not be happy if you lose the battle.

But if I did tell you when I was so young, you wouldn’t remember anyway. And you wouldn’t even hold a grudge that needed forgiveness.

I would though. So please, forgive me.

Always, Me

30 Day Letter Challenge: Dear Deceased

22 Jun

Dear Ty,

Yes. You get to be called by your name.

I think about you. Not every day, probably not as often as I should, but here is proof that I do. I talk about you, too.

There is one thing that I look back on every, single time I think about you. It’s kind of weird, but I long for an answer so much and I know I’ll never get one.

What is it, you say?

Let me tell you a story.

One day, the [female] manager of a football team of a small, podunk town was putting away pylons. A really nice boy was helping her. 

He wanted to ask her a question, and being naturally curious, she of course told him he could ask her anything. With a pause, the boy said 

“what’s your name?”

It was obviously not what he had wanted to ask, but no matter how much she pressure the boy to ask her his real question, he continued his strange behavior and refused to ask her the real question.

Ty. What did you want to ask me that night? Had I been less socially awkward and better able to read people, I would have handled the situation better, but I wasn’t and I couldn’t so I didn’t.

Of course I have my speculations. The only thing I could think that someone would be afraid to ask is if I would date them. That’s super scary. I’m pretty forward with my questions, though, so it probably could have been anything.

I think back to that moment a lot, and I wish that if that was what you were going to ask me…that you had.

I would have said yes.

And thinking about that always makes me think of so many other memories I had with you. There was the day when you poured a bucket of ice water on me. Or the day when you gave me a ride home, and out of habit I tried to kiss you on the cheek and said “I love you”. And way, way back in kindergarten, I defended your choice of underwear when the other boys made fun of you because you wore briefs, not boxers.

Oh, Ty. I’m sorry. But you’ll always be in my thoughts.

Always, Me