Every face tells a story

Every face has character. Aging accentuates the underlying character. Add a little adversity - like Maia's chemo to treat lymphoma - and you're got a face that tells the story of a big life, well lived. 

A road map of life.

Maia's bald patches around her eyes and on her nose.

After her second dose of chemo, I started to notice some bald patches appearing on Maia's face - on the inside of her eyes, the top of her nose, and a couple dime-sized spots on the side of her muzzle.

Before starting treatment, the oncologist told me that hair loss occurred only in dogs with hair - like poodles. 

Maia proves him wrong. Again. She's an outlier. I so love her for that. She and I are alike in that way - we delight in proving people wrong.

What's interesting to me is that the skin underneath Maia's white muzzle fur is black. Really black. The skin on her forelegs where they've shaved for the infusion of her chemotherapy drug, or to do blood draws for lab work, is pink, or pink with grey spots.

Maia's oblivious to the change in her looks. She doesn't care. I don't care, either; I just notice and take stock. Like I notice my own hair turning grey, or the skin on my neck wrinkling. We age, we change. Maia teaches me that it's best to simply accept the changes without worry, because there's nothing to be done about them. They are what they are. And they make us what we are. Brave, strong, and alive. Individuals.

Maia also reminds me that patience is a virtue. After each dose of chemo, she's lethargic and has a loss of appetite for 7-10 days. Then, she has a day like today - twelve days after her last dose of chemo - where once again she's dancing with anticipation when we get ready to go for a walk; treats she turned her nose up to days ago are now delightful. With patience, she gets through the tough stretch. She begins again to find joy in the simple things, feeling good.

These are the days that make my heart soar.

Each day is a gift, and I tell her so.

The standard protocol for this cancer treatment with Maia is five doses, one every three weeks. She's had three doses. Each dose is cumulative and harder on her. After doing some research and talking to the oncology tech - Amiellia, a fabulous woman who takes the time to answer my questions and seems to genuinely care about Maia - I've decided to give Maia a "drug holiday" and see how she does. She's in remission, based on a physical evaluation. Maia's fourteenth birthday is the 9th of March. I want that day to be free of the nausea and lethargy of chemo treatments. I want her fifteenth year of life to start feeling good.  

The goal has always been remission, and she's there. It's time to enjoy the rewards of the treatment.

Rebecca WallickComment