I met Candy in the spring of 2010. She came in to the animal hospital with a slight limp. Bright and alert, we imagined a muscle strain at worse. To be safe, we decided to grab a radiograph – truly expecting to find nothing. Instead, we found that Candy had metastatic lung cancer. Her humans, Stephanie and Keith, wasted no time and started treatment immediately at The Oncology Service. The wildly talented doctors there began treating the metastatic disease but could not locate the primary source of the cancer.
Through most of a year Candy remained happy and seemingly healthy as her treatments continued. She had a syncopal, or fainting episode, on Christmas eve. Though never truly explained by the emergency room doctors, it was felt that somehow the episode was tied in to her disease. Throughout that year I followed Candy’s progress as all of her oncology visits were forwarded to my office to be kept with her health records. Then I saw Candy for her “annual exam” just a few weeks ago. She was still feeling good, according to Stephanie, but there were signs of slowing. I even took a second to snap a few images to put on our hospital Facebook page as Candy is a hospital favorite.
Only a few days later I received that dreaded update. The cardiology team had located a large, heart-based tumor – likely her primary cancer source and most likely the cause of that fainting episode at Christmas. A week or so after that, Stephanie contacted me to see if we could come out and do a photo session with Candy. I have to be honest and say that after reading the reports from her specialists I expected to be greeted by a rather debilitated dog. I should have known better.
Candy brought her “A” game to what we all knew would be an “end of life” photo session. Still greatly inspired by her tennis ball, Candy romped the yard and woods around her family home with almost as much enthusiasm as the young healthy dog she was only several years ago.
That young and healthy dog came to be with her family 8 1/2 years ago at 1 1/2 years of age. A rescue from the wonderful golden rescue group GRREAT, Candy had a special mission – to help her human Stephanie deal with and heal from breast cancer. Stephanie told me her own cancer story and how much Candy meant to her healing way back in April of 2010 when we made that first dreaded discovery in Candy’s lungs. I knew then that this family would do everything in their power to extend Candy’s life. Because sometimes, when we think we’re “rescuing” a dog, the reality is that they’re rescuing us.
The family is making Candy’s last days comfortable and deliriously happy. We extend our thoughts to them during this time, and our thanks for allowing us to care for and photograph this lovely golden girl.