My name is Jane and my dog's name is Max. He is a German shorthair pointer, and I've had him since he was 8 weeks old. He turned 13 last January. I am disabled and extremely poor. I have a severe allergy that makes it impossible for me to be around about 80% of humans, about 80% of the time. Most of my everyday life is pretty isolated from other human beings, but my dog Max is my constant companion. I have no husband or children, no siblings and other than my mother and her husband, Max is my only close family. Though not a certiﬁed service dog, Max's lifelong job has very much been to partner and companion me, a person who is almost completely unable to have regular social interaction with people, due to an illness. In March 2012 I noticed that Max, who has always been incredibly active and healthy, started to have difﬁculties with his back legs. People kept telling me this was just a sign of his aging but I felt sure it was more than that, so the vet ran tests and it turned out that he was suffering from severe hypercalcemia, brought on by a very large T shaped mass growing around his colon and urinary tract, and categorized as a cancer called anal-sac neoplasia. Knowing my precarious ﬁnancial situation, the vet informed me that without treatment, I could keep him comfortable, but that deterioration would be quick, and within a month or two the mass would begin to impede his ability to eliminate and he would have to be put down or toxins would begin to infect his body.
I was devastated, especially as other than the cancer Max was still in undeniably perfect condition. I decided I could not let my ﬁnancial limitations be the cause for my losing my best and most loyal friend. I consulted an oncologist, Dr Joshua Lachowicz, at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in NYC, who told me that anal-sac neoplasia was in fact highly treatable, but that the chemotherapy medication most effective was also very expensive. My mind was racing with how I might come up with cash: who could I borrow from? What could I sell? Dr. Lachowicz then told me about a foundation, which if we qualiﬁed could probably cover about 1/3 the total cost of care over the next 6 months, if I could come up with the rest. That fund was Frankie’s Friends. I agreed, and they stepped in immediately to begin covering the cost of care so that Max wouldn’t get any worse, and so I might have some time to raise the money needed for the rest of his care.
It all went beautifully and by the second week of Max's treatments he had regained his strength, and was no longer struggling with his hind legs. By the fourth week the mass had shrunk by nearly half its original size, and what had been solid mass was now primarily liquid. By the 6th week they were able to operate and remove what was left of the cancer.
None of this would have been possible without the help and support of Frankie’sFriends.
It is now been almost 18 months since Max’s original diagnosis, and there has still been no reoccurrence of the neoplasia, though in March of this year he was diagnosed with lymphoma.
We are treating it the best we can, though because Max seems to have a sensitivity to the chemotherapy drugs that ideally would put the lymphoma into ‘full remission’, we are only able to give him small/weak doses in order to maintain his status of ‘partial remission’. For the time being Max is in no pain, has lots of energy, and is currently in upstate NY, enjoying a dog's summer, doing all his favorite things.
I feel incredibly blessed that we are now in the midst of this second summer on borrowed time. My understanding is that the chemotherapy, the partial remission, will last until the day that it doesn’t, and from there things will likely move very fast.
Over the last 18 months, since being originally diagnosed with cancer, Max has perhaps had 2 or 3 weeks total where he struggled or was in pain in any way. Every other day has been happy and healthy and lived to the fullest.
I have accepted the reality that our time left together is likely not much longer, but have chosen to save my grief for when he is gone.
Having Max in my life has been the most precious gift. He has been with me almost every day of the last 13-1/2 years, and he is the relationship in my life that I feel most proud of and most loyal to, and when the time comes to say goodbye I will try my hardest to experience even the pain of letting him go as a gift; to have the honor of ushering out such a gentle and pure soul to whatever waits beyond will be an honor and a blessing.
I want to thank Frankie’s Friends.
I want to thank Frankie’s Friends for the gift of time. For the gift of jumping of porches. Of swimming in ponds and hunting frogs. For the gift of running in snow and lounging in grass. I want to thank Frankie’s Friends for snuggles and treats and pats on my head. I want to thank Frankie’s Friends for the gift of life.