The Glory of Hope

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Why we call them fur family members

It had been almost three years without having a dog. Yes, three years without hearing paws racing across the floor. Three years without having a sweet happy face and wagging tail greeting you at the door. Three long years without having a loving dog to simply cuddle up to. This was a major thing missing in our lives in the nearly 23 years that Kevin and I had been married. This was the longest stretch that our marriage had without having a dog.

It was November 2012 and it was ending a year that had changed our lives forever. You see, in January, I was diagnosed with Stage 1c ovarian cancer at the age of 50. This diagnosis came out of nowhere. I was probably in the best physical shape of my life, feeling great, no pain or discomfort anywhere. Then in November and December of 2011 I had a couple cyst ruptures within this two-month period. Having those cyst ruptures made me see my GYN, and from there I had a total hysterectomy and diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2012. No one ever would have seen this cancer diagnosis coming, other than God, of course.

I had six rounds of chemotherapy and, by the grace of God, I completed everything without any problems. Such tremendous peace and gratitude I felt during all of this. Yes, gratitude that I caught this cancer at an early stage, for ovarian cancer is typically caught at a late stage. Gratitude that I truly felt God’s presence through all of this. And, gratitude for the incredible support from family and friends. However, there was something missing. I did miss having a sweet loving dog to cuddle with during this difficult time.

In the midst of this health crisis, yes, it did make life “easier” not being tied down to a pet who needed walking, feeding, etc.  Funny how God knows just how things are meant to be at the exact moments of our lives. God knew our lives needed this break from having a dog in order for Kevin and me to concentrate on my health. God is indeed always in full control. But, then, it happened . . . a bit of guidance from our loving Heavenly Father.

So, in November Kevin was having one of his moments of truly missing having a dog. He began searching various pet websites unbeknownst to me. I had gone off to the gym that morning and when I finished my workout, I realized he had left me a voicemail. His message was all about this incredible dog that he came across on the Pet Placement website. I could hear the pure joy and excitement in his voice and how he wanted me to make an appointment to see this dog that day. And, here comes the interesting part of this story. How did he come across this dog, you ask? I say it was none other than God’s divine intervention. I say that because Kevin, for some reason, was “directed” to search our church’s website. He was guided on the church website to a Mission page listing various organizations our church helps out with, one being Pet Placement. And, while being “directed” to this website, Kevin came across our new angel.

Well, to not further drag on with this story, I made the appointment that day to visit this dog. YES, of course, it was love at first sight. This dog was so beautiful and her personality was infectious. Pet Placement had her name as Maddox at the time, which we soon changed to Sasha. Maddox just didn’t capture the pure essence of this dog, not only her incredible beauty but her unique personality, too. Sasha was the name we arrived at and we felt it fit her true self.

Sasha had her typical puppy adjustment period with us for the first few months. I will be honest, there were some of those puppy moments where I was truly wondering what we got ourselves back into. But all in all, I knew she was a blessing sent by God. God even “confirmed” this with me one day when he whispered a message to me “The dog will be OK.” It was one of the most amazing moments I have ever had – sobbing holding Sasha wondering if I could get through this puppy stage and hearing God’s simple message. What a loving Father we truly have.

The best yet, though, was the incredible joy that returned to our home by adopting Sasha. Having a dog back in our lives was what we both needed. 2013 was a good year and a year that brought yet another life-changing event. We were moving!!! This in itself is another God-driven story, but I will not get into those particulars at this time. The purpose of our move was to down-size and to move off the mountain. We had decided our “future years” should be in a smaller 1-story home and with no mountain road driving. Well, we came across our present home perfectly and the move went very swiftly. Thank you, God, for your provision!!! We were set up in our new home by August of 2013.

The months passed and we were enjoying our new home. Sasha adjusted quickly and very easily. She enjoyed this neighborhood, which had lots of children and new fur friends to meet. All was going well and then, life changed again.

It was March of 2014 and I had been having good checkups and bloodwork for almost two years now. However, something was telling me that something just was not right. I asked to have my checkup moved up to an earlier date, and low and behold, my bloodwork came back elevated. Yes, my cancer was back. I had a CT/PET scan and nothing really showed up. But, we knew with my CA-125 marker elevated, and my having some vague symptoms, we knew the cancer was back. Once again, I give God all the praise for having me catch my cancer very early. Kevin & I met with my GYN oncologist and we decided to go with the most aggressive treatment possible – intraperitoneal chemotherapy. I would have a total of 18 treatments, one treatment per week. Yes, this was going to be more intensive than the last time, but it was my best shot to being free of this cancer.

But, we now had a dog. This added a bit more to our schedule than the last time I went through chemotherapy. And, these treatments were going to be longer and entail more side effects. How were we going to handle all of this? God provided. God always provides. All I can say is that we could not have gotten through all of this without the wonderful support from our family (who took care of Sasha during chemo days) and our friends. God encircled us with the necessary people to get us through this time. How God always provides, even during those mighty storms. How, to this day, I give Him all the glory and praise.

Again, I was extremely blessed to get through these chemo treatments with very minimal side effects. I truly believe that with FAITH, FAMILY and FRIENDS you can conquer anything. Some days were definitely harder than others. One thing, though, that helped me get through these difficult days was having Sasha by my side. How her smiling face brought a smile to my face. How her “talking” with me made me laugh. Yes, this dog will sometimes just burst into conversation with you. She is definitely a girl who knows what she wants. Lastly, there were those days where just lying next to her and stroking her silky smooth fur brought me such peace.

Today life is good! Life is extremely good. I have been in remission for almost 2 ½ years and everything continues to go well. I end this saying Thank You, God, for always knowing what we need in our lives. Thank you for guiding Kevin in finding our Sasha. And, most of all, thank you for allowing our hearts to be open once again to loving a “furever’ Best Friend.

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