The Woodward News


April 4, 2014

Overwhelming act of generosity

Everyone has heard the saying that a dog is man's best friend.

Well, for me and my dog Phoebe, she is not just my best friend, she is my family.

She is the one I come home to each day. Her's is the first face I see every morning. She is always there as a comforting presence, who makes my small apartment feel like a home.

And since she is my family and means so much to me, when she hurts, I hurt.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she started limping on her front legs and I became concerned that something wasn't right. Then when she lifted her right front paw and was unwilling to put any weight on it, I knew something was wrong.

So I made an appointment to take her to the vet. But I tried to remain optimistic that she might have just suffered an ankle sprain and it wasn't anything too serious.

That optimism didn't last too long, because a quick x-ray of her leg revealed that she had a fracture in her radius, right by the ankle joint. More disturbingly, the x-ray also showed some dark spots on her bone around the fracture. It was obvious that something had weakened her bone enough to cause the fracture.

The vet said it looked like cancer, but they needed to do a biopsy to be sure. And with no hesitation, I made an appointment with the vet to have the biopsy done right away. Because after all she is my family, and you do what needs to be done for family.

I knew the biopsy surgery wouldn't be cheap, but that's what they make credit cards for right?

The worst part was having to wait nearly a week to get the biopsy results back. During that time, there was a slight hope that it might not be cancer, but instead a fungal infection that damaged the bone.

However, on Tuesday, the vet called and said the biopsy confirmed cancer. He then said this meant that we needed to act fast. The first step was to take a chest x-ray to determine whether the cancer might have metastasized because osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is known to be highly malignant and often spreads to the lungs, where it becomes fatal for dogs.

Fortunately, the chest x-ray didn't show any signs that the cancer had spread. But to help ensure that the cancer wouldn't spread any further, Phoebe's leg would have to be amputated.

I immediately told the vet, yes, go ahead and schedule the surgery. I could only think 'let's get it done' and get my dog, my friend, my companion, well and on the path to recovery.

He said Phoebe could stay at their office and they would perform the surgery the next morning and assured me that dogs often do just fine adjusting to life on 3 legs.

A practical part of me though began to wonder how much more this surgery would cost. I have a relatively low limit on my credit card and was afraid I might max it out.

There was no question about whether I wanted Phoebe to have the surgery, because I knew she needed it. The question became whether I could afford it.

And that was the breaking point for me. Even now, the thought of not being able to provide this life-saving surgery for my dog, brings me to tears. I couldn't face the thought of losing my family.

But sometimes it takes something tragic to show us how blessed we are.

Because all my worry over being able to afford the surgery turned out to be for naught, as I soon learned that I had a number of people watching out for me.

First, the vet agreed to allow me to make special payment arrangements. Then some of my human family members and friends came forward, offering to send me money to help pay the bill.

I was so relieved to know that the surgery would proceed as planned and that soon my Phoebe would hopefully be cancer free. I was also surprised to know how much my friends and family cared about me that they didn't hesitate to say they would help me out in this time of need. I was touched by their consideration and understanding of how much my Phoebe means to me. (And again I am crying at just the thought of it. Except these are tears of joy and thankfulness.)

However, my biggest surprise came a couple days later after the surgery when I returned to the vet to pick up some medicine. Before handing me the pill bottles, one of the staff members handed me a sheet of paper and told me I had received an early Christmas present. It was a copy of a receipt which bore the message “$300 donation toward vet bill.”

The only name on the receipt was mine. The donation had been anonymous.

I had to reread the note 3 times, because I just couldn't believe it. I was simply overwhelmed by this amazing act of generosity. It was the best Christmas present I have ever received, early or otherwise.

And I just wish I could say enough to this person, to let him or her know how much that donation meant to me. Just saying 'thank you' doesn't seem adequate, but please know you have my deepest and sincerest gratitude.

Because thanks to you, whoever you are, and thanks to my loving family and friends, who have also shown me amazing generosity, I can focus on helping my Phoebe through recovery. I now can take time to just enjoy being with her and to help give her comfort, instead of worrying about trying to pick up extra hours at work in order to pay back the vet bill.

Your help for Phoebe in her time of need means everything to me because Phoebe is my family and family means everything in the world to me.

I know I can never truly repay your kindness, but hope that one day I can honor that kindness by being able to pay it forward.

 Rowynn Ricks is a staff writer for the Woodward News.

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