(Above: My mutt mutt Bella-Boo)
Almost two weeks ago, I gave my dog a bath.
“And?” You’re probably thinking, “Why the heck does that matter?”
Well, let me walk you through all that en”tails”…pun intended 🙂
My dog Bella is a sixty-pound, “no way in hell am I getting in that bath tub”, has every possible imaginable allergy under the sun, type of dog. Which means after picking her heavy ass up and placing her into the bath tub, she then has to be shampooed twice. Once with a yummy-tropical-smelling, hypo-allergenic dog-shampoo to get her clean. And once more with a medicated, prescription, dog-shampoo that has to be left in…for twenty minutes. Did I mention that she really really doesn’t like taking a bath?
The last time Bella had her bath, I was still going through chemotherapy treatments. It was exhausting. I could barely find the strength to pick her up twice. In fact, I’m pretty sure I let her jump out of the tub when her bath was over. Picking her up again simply wasn’t happening.
After her first round of shampooing, I was ready to call it a day. It took me just about two hours from start to finish. (That’s a very loooong time!)
But on this particular day (a few weeks ago) I was the victorious, alpha, rescue mom. Just as my soapy hands became full of dog hair, my children reminded me that they too were part of my multi-tasking agenda. I micromanaged my son’s appetite plus my daughter’s sudden need to become Queen Elsa of Arendelle then went back to work on my soapy pup.
I couldn’t help but be overcome with an enormous sense of gratitude. My back didn’t feel sore. My legs weren’t becoming weak from the constant strain of bending to lather, rinse, repeat. It felt damn good to be accomplishing a normal everyday task without feeling wiped out! Healthy again. My body, while not back to 100 percent, was getting there.
Bella looked up at me, tail between her legs, ears back, eyes begging for release from this tiled prison. I was laughing and smiling the whole time. Being healthy enough to do something so simple was such a blessing. Something that, just a few month ago, would have winded me for sure.
I took it for granted that I would always be healthy. Just like being in an unhealthy relationship can give you new eyes of appreciation and admiration for the healthy one that comes along.
Cancer taught me to give thanks for everyday my heart is pumping. For each day my lungs allow me to breathe. Cancer could have owned me, destroyed my life, taken every precious intangible thing away. It may have been a very cruel teacher at times, with harsh lessons to learn. Without everything I gained because of it, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.
I’ve lost quite a few people in my life to cancer. I can count on more than one hand how many family members have been afflicted by it. Maybe this was cancers way of repaying that karmic debt. By giving me invaluable knowledge, appreciation for days I may have taken for granted, moments that might have slipped through the cracks of my life–it made up for all the pain it had caused in previous years.
To be a survivor, I know how fortunate I am. Why fate chose to keep me here, I don’t know. I don’t know why so many have to lose their lives to this terrible disease. Why I wasn’t one of them. All I know is that I believe everything happens for a reason. So rather than saying “fuck you” to cancer, all I can say is “thank you.”