Friday, May 22, 2015

Dear Sugar,

One year ago today, I held you in my arms for the last time.

We had a great last day together. I smelled your fur and listened to your soft meow. I felt your purr as you laid on top of me.  I scratched your chin and your whiskers brushed against my cheeks. You ate your favorite foods and you laid in the sweet grass under the geranium in  the backyard. You gave me lots of "sugar" and I kissed you at least a million times. We put a lot of love into that day.

And then, the time came and you  flew to the Rainbow Bridge, where there is no pain, no cancer, only love and light. As your spirit left your body, I stroked your fur and told you over and over, "I love you".

Some things have changed since you left. I have a new job, and I drive a new car.

We have two new kitties in our family. And Sugar, they are boy cats! Yes, boy cats! I think you would like them and I know they would love you.

Chai is no longer with us here on Earth, but then you know that. I know that your paws were the first to take hers as she left my arms and crossed the Rainbow Bridge in February.

Little Bit is the new counter kitty. Who knew? I know you're whispering in her ear because she does so many of the things that you used to do as she sits beside me every morning and evening. She walks across the keyboard and nudges my hand as I use the mouse, just like you did.

The princess trees in the backyard have grown even taller. And now a lovely windchime with your name on it hangs in one them among the beautiful purple flowers. It was a gift from dear friends who love you and miss you too. When I hear its lovely chime I know it's you letting me know that you are flying by on your angel wings.

The lavender bed is gone. It has been replaced by a catnip garden where memorial stones for Chai and you rest, side by side.

But one thing has not changed, my Sweet Brave Warrior. I love you today as much as I loved you a year ago. You are always with me, my heart kitty, because Love Wins. I think of you and I miss you every day.

Your legacy here on Earth continues. The Sugar Rub Feline Mammary Cancer Fund at Penn Vet is at over 50% of our goal and growing. I hope to see the study start next year.

Through Sugar Rub!, you are saving lives. Miracle's mom found her mammary tumor because she gives her kitties monthly Sugar Rubs. More than one kitty has been spayed before first heat, because her parent read on the Sugar Rub! Facebook page that it lowers the likelihood of mammary cancer by 90%.

In October, I will walk 39 miles in New York, in your memory. Your aunties and I will walk together in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk to end breast cancer and raise awareness that pets get breast cancer too. And once again, you will walk with me.

Although you no long live with us here on Earth, you are still doing extraordinary things, Sugar. You and your valiant fight against breast cancer have not been forgotten.

I love you Sugar Bear, now and forever. Give Misty and Chai a cheek rub from me OK?

Mama J

In Loving Memory of Sugar
9/27/2001 - 5/22/2014
Loved beyond words and missed beyond measure. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

This is a fact of which I am painfully aware. We helped our Sweet Sugar to the Rainbow Bridge last May due to lung cancer that had spread from her mammary cancer. And just three months ago, our beloved Chai made her journey after an eighteen month battle with lymphoma.

In my humble opinion, every month is pet cancer awareness month. In fact every day is pet cancer awareness day. Because cancer doesn't wait until any particular month to strike. As pet parents, the more we know about the cancers that can affect our pets, the better equipped we are to recognize the signs and take action. 

Taking action does not necessarily mean surgery or chemotherapy. In fact it might mean nothing more than providing palliative care and giving the final gift of release from pain when it is time for your pet to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

But just like with us, the earlier you catch cancer, the better the odds of fighting it. As a pet parent who has fought the C Monster with everything I had, I encourage you to know the signs and be proactive in noticing them:

  • Give your pet a monthly Sugar Rub! to check for mammary tumors. 
  • Do an overall head to tail exam each month to feel for any lumps or bumps.
  • Do a visual examination - see anything suspicious on his/her skin, ears or nose? Notice any discharge or unusual odors from his/her nose, mouth or other body area? Are there any wounds that aren't healing?
  • Tune in to his/her physical activity - has it changed? Is s/he coughing or having difficulty breathing?
  • Has your pet lost weight? Weigh him/her monthly and record it in a notebook.
And what if you find something? Does it mean your pet has cancer? Maybe. But maybe not. All of these signs could be something else. And God help you, I hope it is something else. But you won't know if you don't get it checked out. Waiting won't make it better and you just might miss an opportunity to help your pet beat cancer.