Friday, July 22, 2011
Health, happiness and Barney.
I am not sure why, but in the past week or so I have been thinking about my diagnosis and treatment and the horror year that was 2010. Which I can now do without having bursts of angry tears - woo hoo! I have met quite a few women who have also had their lives hijacked by breast cancer and we all have things in common - great family, great friends and other support. In addition to the cocktail of cancer drugs we were on, some of these women were also on anti-anxiety or anti-depressants whilst going through treatment. I did utilise sleeping tablets as my sleep was disrupted by the steroids after chemo, but I didn't take valium or any anti-depressants. I was thinking what was the difference between me and these other women? We are all strong, vibrant and confident women who are tough and have come out the other side - so why was I different?
Upon reflection I have come to the conclusion that the difference was my big hairy horse dog - Barney. There were some people who were not supportive of the puppy idea and 18 months down the track I can see why. Dealing with cancer is stressful, but when you add in a pooing weeing puppy machine, it takes stress to a whole new level. However, I wouldn't change a thing! I got Barney the week after my first chemo treatment and he was born the week I was diagnosed - he is very special to me. No matter how sick I was feeling, I would take him to the dog park or kick a ball in the backyard, even if it was only for 10 minutes. On the days that I didn't have the energy, mum would take him to the dog park while I sat in the car and watched. It always made me feel happy and relaxed and I would momentarily forget about all the bad things I was going through.
I will never forget the day that I had my head shaved. As you can imagine, I was pretty distraught about the idea of being bald and sick and ugly. I came home from having my head shaved and went straight to my bed and cried and cried and cried. I didn't want to talk to anyone or see anyone. I heard a knock on the door and my mum came in saying that there was someone who wanted to see me. I didn't want to see anyone and told her to go away, she walked over to the bed and placed Barney next to me. He snuggled into me as I cried and started licking my head. I remember feeling very comforted by that little tongue licking my bald head. As gorgeous as he was, he didn't make up for the fact that I looked like Uncle Fester for months on end, but he did a bloody good job.
He was amazingly aware on the days that I wasn't feeling well - which was a lot. On the days that I struggled to walk down the stairs, Barney would patiently wait at the top of the stairs until I had reached the bottom and then run down; he would also do this as I ascended the stairs. Now as soon as I stand at the top of the stairs, he pushes past me and runs down to sit next to the hat rack - looking at his lead and then looking at me as if to say 'there is my lead, where are we going?'.
I was recently talking to a friend who has just finished chemo and was contemplating getting a puppy. I am definitely a dog person and would highly recommend Puppy Therapy. However, Puppy Therapy does come with side effects - you can think your puppy is a child and treat them as such, you can talk in a high pitch cutesy voice that only dogs can understand and no matter how hard you fight it - you will frequently find your bed half-taken up by a 40kg hairy horse hound who farts and snores all night! Ok, maybe that last one is just me.
So this entry is a salute to my big hairy horse dog Barney. He is a doggie celebrity in his own right, we go to the dog park and people who I have never met call his name and give him treats. Barney was the only one who was by my side more than my mother last year and he always manages to put a smile on my face even on my darkest days and for that I will be forever grateful. Thanks Barney.