the diagnosis

In this free podcast David Whyte talks about how each one of us will have to say goodbye to every thing, every person who is important in our lives. You will say goodbye to them, or they will say goodbye to you, until in the end, it is all gone.

I am not good at goodbye. Most of us aren’t.

In the past few whirlwind days, my dog Roxy, my baby, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. The “fast moving” kind. Without treatment her prognosis is around 6 weeks.

In these past days of tests, unknowing, waiting, and imagining, I thought a lot about what Whyte said.

The Buddhists say it in a different way—that praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow are all part of this life. No one is immune and no one gets out of here alive.

In her book, Lovingkindness, Sharon Salzberg expands on this:

No one in this world experiences only pleasure and no pain, and no one experiences only gain and no loss. When we open to this truth, we discover that there is no need to hold on or push away. Rather than trying to control what can never be controlled, we can find a sense of security in being able to meet what is actually happening.

In moments of complete overwhelm this weekend, it actually helped to dissect my emotional process and name the states: Attachment. Fear. Clinging. This allowed me to meet what was actually happening. Seeing and naming my feelings gave me a little room to breathe, to be.

During our late night appointment, last night Bubby and I decided on chemotherapy (which in dogs consists of pills and injections that do not make the dog sick). Roxy is 11, the cancer is in its very early stages, she is otherwise healthy, and the odds of this treatment are quite favorable. I can’t imagine not going through treatment that could extend her life.

The things that are truly important to me have become clear very quickly. I have been reminded. And they aren’t the things I spend much of my day stressing over or trying to do or get. They are simple things.

Even for the insight, I do not wish to always live in this state. It is far too intense. I’m getting how loss and grief can be teachers, as they say. And no, it does not escape me that I have not actually “lost” anything yet.

But the awareness that someday I will, someday I will lose it all, makes me appreciate this right now so very much more.

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16 Responses to “the diagnosis”


  1. 1 Elizabeth October 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    When I am in those moments, I appreciate Atlas so very much. And I always wish that I could remember the lesson in other, more ordinary moments, when I forget. (Yes, without the accompanying intensity.)

    Sending so much love to you and to Roxy. There is so much sweetness and love and knowing in her eyes.

  2. 2 jacqueline October 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I am so sorry. From my dog, Zeppelin, to yours, may there be many more moments of pure dog love. – J

  3. 3 Kelly Parkinson October 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    If there’s anything good vibes can possibly do, know that you and Roxy and Bubby have them to infinity. Blue pills, do your magic.

  4. 4 blogasana October 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    @elizabeth – yes, remembering without the intensity. i think it’s possible. thank you <3

    @jacqueline – thank you so much. give zeppelin a kiss from us.

    @kelly – magic blue pills… and sparkles and a wand. we'll try it all. thanks kel.

  5. 5 Frenzy36 October 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I think you’ve made the right call. I’ve been in the same spot and I am glad that I chose surgery to help my dog Riley live a loving and loved extra three years. In dog terms that extending their life 21 of our years, think about that.

    Money – if you have extra it just gets spent on crap, better to have a noble cause like this.

    Best wishes from my pack to yours.

  6. 6 Jenna October 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    That picture of Roxy is wonderful.
    This is the hardest part of life, and the quote and Buddhist words you added express it perfectly. You haven’t seen me around lately because I’ve been going through very similar emotions for the last 5 weeks. I had to keep reminding myself that every single one of us experiences suffering, and we never know when it will come. Things can change in an instant. That’s the reality, but so is the fact that it’s just so damned hard. I feel for you (and, on a positive note, remember that no diagnosis is a sure thing– the treatment may give her a new start. I know that firsthand.) Sending hugs and well-wishes.

  7. 7 Kelley M October 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I get it. I really do. My heart goes out to Roxy because she is the one who is ill and my support and loves go to you because you are the mommy dealing with it all. Hugs, support, love and time are all you need. I’m here if you need me. Hug Roxy for me.

  8. 8 Stephanie October 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

    woops… posted this in the wrong place before

    what an amazingly beautiful baby puppy you have. i am going through a similar situation with my ten month old chihuahua (not as threatening as yours) and it made me think SO MUCH about loss. i hope everything goes well, i am thinking and praying for you.

    xoxo
    Stephanie @Femmena Mala

  9. 9 blogasana October 20, 2010 at 3:11 am

    thank you thank you for this support. it helps.

    @frenzy – awesome to hear you had success with another 3 years. that’s amazing!

    @jenna – isn’t it a strange state? clearly you relate, and for that, i’m sorry! for everything we struggle with, i’m hoping for peace and space around it.

    @kelley – next time i see you it will be a big in person hug. thank you xoxo

    @stephanie – hugs to you and your munchkin too. nothing like a dog to teach us about LOVE. prayers to you guys too. xo

  10. 10 Brittany October 20, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Oh, Michelle. I am so sorry about Roxy. She is such a sweet, special dog. I had a dog with cancer and she got chemo and it gave her many more years. I’ll be praying for the same thing with Roxy.

    You know how much I love my dog. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    All my thoughts go to Roxy for healing and to you and Bubby.

    All my best,
    Brittany

  11. 11 Eric Dye October 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Michelle,

    I am so very sorry to hear about Roxy, but I hope the treatment you are getting helps.

    Loss is so difficult to handle. I am still not sure I have fully processed the death of my grandmother this past July or even the death of my grandfather from 7 years ago . . . I just keep moving forward. However, I know that the older I get, the more and more loss I will experience . . . I will certainly try to use this realization to appreciate the here and now as much as I possibly can.

    See you soon.

    Eric

    • 12 blogasana October 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      @eric – i so get it… i don’t think we know how to handle and process loss. it’s almost like we’re given a socially acceptable amount of time depending on the factors… and then we’re supposed to move on. but everyone’s process is different and you can’t rush the heart.

      thanks for the wishes for roxy. we’ll hold tender space for you and all of us who meet losses big and small. xoxo

  12. 13 Amy --- Just A Titch October 21, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I’m so sorry to read that what was just a worry when I saw you ended up being so scary. I would make a similar choice for Harry and I understand loving your pets like children. I’ll be holding a good thought for Roxy and especially for you, as you navigate this no matter what the outcome. Love you, friend.

  13. 14 Tracy October 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, sweet Roxy! So very sorry what’s happening, Michelle… Hoping very much the chemo/treatments will be successful and Roxy with you as long as possible. I’ve been listening to the podcasts at Sounds True for some time–great variety of topics. That one with David Whyte earlier this spring was fantastic. I long loved his writings and wisdom shared. Wishing you well on this new, difficult journey now… ((HUGS))

  14. 15 blogasana October 22, 2010 at 4:06 am

    @amy – thanks… ya, i think some part of me knew it wasn’t going to be good. defense is a funny thing. roxy sends kisses to harry and sympathizes about the fan-wear he endured. xoxo

    @tracy – thanks tracy. yes, those sounds true talks have given me a lot of fodder. i actually bought the david whyte program. also a long time lover of his work. (of course we have that in common!=) xo

  15. 16 searching4tadasana October 22, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Oh that ache in the pit of your stomach when you just want it to go away because you love them so much and how could this happen to such a sweet creature? then we realize when we let ourselves that this is how life is…this is truth. That section of Salzburg’s book goes on “when we allow for the mystery, sometimes we discover that right in the heard of a very difficult time, right in the midst of a painful situation, there is freedom. In those moments when we realize how much we cannot control, we can learn to let go.” You provide so much support and guidance to your yoga crew, but I think it is easier said than done. Here is hoping you and Roxy find some space…some freedom. xoox


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