When Cosmo was diagnosed with cancer about four months ago, one of the hardest things to come to grips with was not knowing how the story would end. I did so much research and also read about other dogs with cancer, and so I knew what their stories were, from beginning to end. I was convinced our story would go on much longer than it did.
Last Sunday, Cosmo's four-month journey with cancer came to an end. The average survival time for a dog with his type of cancer -- a metastatic pulmonary adenocarcinoma -- is nine to 12 months. But Cosmo had responded so well to surgery and then to his chemo treatments that his future was looking pretty bright.
In mid-October, six weeks after surgery and after two of five scheduled chemo treatments, Cosmo looked like he felt great, zooming around and chasing squirrels, above.
I took Cosmo to do all the things he loves, like the lure course he got to run near the end of October, above.
By mid-November, Cosmo seemed a little off but blood work came back normal and chest x-rays showed no sign of lung tumors. Still, we already knew that some of the cancer had metastasized to his lymph nodes. And there was no telling if the Carboplatin chemo treatments were getting rid of all the cancer. He was cleared to travel to Chicago with me for Thanksgiving, and while he was just a bit subdued, he did fine with the trip and seemed to enjoy it.
Above, Cosmo enjoyed some reflection time at the Chicago lakefront.
Cosmo lived every day to the fullest up until his last week in mid-December when he declined rapidly. I had wondered how I'd know when the end was close, but Cosmo made it perfectly clear by his actions. He had trouble moving and the pain seemed to be too much. We tried every kind of treatment to help manage the pain but it kept getting worse. Cosmo let me know he had lived a full and wonderful life and now it was time to go. His body was failing him, and the Cosmo we all knew had already left us.
Cosmo went to the Rainbow Bridge on December 23, but his life was not about cancer. He was the life of the party -- a sporty, fluffy, handsome fellow who greeted everyone he met with kisses and wags before he asked for belly rubs. He attended every BlogPaws and BarkWorld Expo social media conference, traveled to Italy twice and all over the U.S.
He used social media to help raise money for animal rescue groups across the world. He loved to zoom, catch discs, play agility, run a lure course, herd sheep and he had started to learn nose works. He just liked to come along, whether it was shopping or to a restaurant.
He'll be missed greatly by both me and young pup Rocco, who came to live us with just four weeks before Cosmo passed on.
I had expected them to have a least a year together and I secretly hoped for a few more, but even in the short time together Cosmo seemed to have an impact on Rocco, teaching him all about toys and treats and how to enjoy a good chew.
And while I miss Cosmo so much, I have absolutely no regrets for the life we led together or the attempt to save him from cancer. I wouldn't do a thing differently, and in that I can find a lot of comfort.
I never really thought about how many folks both Cosmo and I met, through agility, social media and other outings we took. The support of everyone -- from the time Cosmo was diagnosed, up until the end -- has meant a great deal to me and I can't thank you all enough. I'm so grateful to have Rocco now, and what's ironic is that I started the process of getting another pup even before Cosmo was diagnosed with cancer.
These last few photos are some of the last action shots I took of Cosmo, when he was feeling great in October. He was always ready for a great adventure.
RIP sweet Cosmo Havanese. You may be gone, but you'll live in our hearts forever. ♥