Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
Sydney didn't make it. She was due to be discharged this morning but an unexpected cascade of events occurred last night that was unstoppable.
She never made it home but after she was given rest, we got back to Valerie's house and found Hudson on the pile of comforters and pillows
meant for her as though he was awaiting Sydney's return. And Valerie asked me if I believed Sydney's spirit did make it back.
Do I believe in that, she asked me.
As a man of both science and faith, I've borne witness to many inexplicable, unresolvable things on my travels. Long ago, I wrote a poem whose opening lines were;
"Cast before a silver sheet,
Tracing lines that never meet."
Reflecting now back on those words I once wrote, I think what I meant was that a life, a love, a mile, a moment in time can be captured photographically but never truly and wholly represented.
I believe that there is a spiritual connection between loved ones that does and maybe should defy our scientific understanding. Energy is an expansive thing that is neither created nor destroyed. And though the lines never add up and never meet - that connection may change, it is never lost.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Recently my good friend, sous chef (she hates it when I call her that), and the princess of pastries - Valerie - her dog Sydney went from seemingly happy, healthy, full of life and love to lethargic with loss of appetite.
An ultrasound Tuesday revealed a 17 cm mass in her spleen with possible liver involvement. Valerie had to make the heartwrenching decision most of us have had to make but in a fraction of a moment. Once hemangiosarcoma is suspected, time is of the absolute essence.
For Sydney, 13 years old though a spirited lass by all accounts, the clock was ticking. Valerie opted to spare no effort to save her life.
Her surgeon, Dr. Taylor, successfully performed the splenectomy and a liver lobectomy as well as removing an intestinal tumor that wasn't evident through the ultrasound and I'm happy to report that Sydney has made it to Day 2 of postoperative care. Though her status still guarded, hopefully Sydney can go home today and be with her mother.
Three times I've gone through this personally with Malcolm, Murphy, and Hudson and I've been by the side of many friends with dogs with cancer. That is one of my jobs. I awakened early this morning relieved by the promising news of Sydney's condition but reminded of a poem by Robert Frost.
"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
YBD's Notes 1: I want to thank Valerie for her courage in not only fighting to save her girl's life against all odds but for allowing me to share Sydney's story. She just isn't able to speak about it yet but she knows I must.
YBD's Notes 2: Nearby is a pic of Sydney with my Puppy Up neck gaiter I gave her to keep her warm. Isn't she a beaut?
YBD's Notes 3: Perhaps the main reason we got Sydney into the vet before her spleen ruptured is by noticing her distended belly which will be added to our list of early warning signs of cancer.
YBD's Notes 4: BTW Sydney is NOT a boy (inside joke).
Friday, February 20, 2015
After pitching a tent in a grove of Eucalyptus Trees along the Elkhorn Slough of the Pacific Coast Highway just outside of Moss Landing - there's a video somewhere about it- , a song got caught in my head and like some things on our journey, I didn't understand its significance at that moment.
Invariably life is reduced down to one step, one song, one mile, one moment, and even just a snuggle, all of which inspire us. To keep going.
The more ironical thing is - I'm not sure if I ever heard this song before the slough so why did it resound relentlessly in my tent that night?
Maybe the love of a child never needs a rationalization no matter the kind and that's the message.
Does Anything Else Matter?
Does Anything Else Matter?
Monday, February 16, 2015
It's president's day but I'm in no mood for celebration.
Oh it's not because I'm not a patriot as I believe in values like freedom and equality - all of the things that we've fought for as a country. That I've walked for.
But we have a fight of a different kind now and we've been abandoned by our leaders.
This blog is about the funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), this government's, our government's, decade long disregardment of, what the World Health Organization called the deadliest disease in 2010 and nothing else.
Let's take a look at the numbers. They represent the total budget of NCI in billions of dollars.
Let me give you some context. This past fiscal year, the current administration earmarked $6.3 billion for Ebola virus research, a disease that affected, what, 1 or 2 people in the US and yet 1/2 of all men and 1/3 of women will be diagnosed with cancer. Nevermind the 2-4 million dogs that develop the same types of cancer every year. Why?
But I get it - it's politically expedient. Ebola grabs headlines.
On my first walk, I met with a few legislators and lobbyists and what they said was, 'Great cause, just get a spokesperson and a celebrity around it and then we'll listen.' And so I walked the entire expanse of the West Coast in search of someone who would stand up. No one did.
Even though celebrities talk about how devoted they are to animal causes.
In my little world of walking 4k miles for this cause, you get tired of those that just talk and talk
which is why I've walked the walk. No one has the right to present themselves as a dog lover unless they stand up to the number one killer of dogs. Cancer.
I return to DC in June without a celebrity or a spokesperson. I am no longer a naif. Having witnessed all of the death I have from cancer I will stand up and be heard.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Divers have to decompress before resurfacing and the greater the depth of the dive the longer the decompression. I've pretty much been unplugged and down and out right disconnected since the completion of the West Coast Walk because I needed to.
But I haven't just been making angels in the tons of snow that's blanketed CT - tho Hudsy and Nanners (nice snow stache BTW) have - I've been deep in reflection on the enormity my accomplishments but more importantly how to tell it. The right way.
The story's the thing.
Beginning March 16th, the 7th anniversary of the start of the first walk, I'll be posting a seven part interview with Yer Big Dog wherein which I will talk not only about the great and the glory of this grand adventure but the trials and tribulations, too. From the fantastic people we've met on our path to the fantastical things we've experienced.
And we're making it interactive. I've gotten thousands of questions over the expanse of our journey and haven't always been able to answer all of them so also we're opening this up to you. If you have something you'd like to personally ask YBD, send me an email by Feb 15th. Not via FB or TW or in a comment here. Hopefully we can get it and we'll try our best because I have a lot to say. Over 4,000 miles and 1,044 days, I've walked the walk now it's time to talk the talk. #4000miles