Hannah's Hospice: Home Away from Home for the Holidays

To be honest, today wasn’t our best day. I brought Hannah into the office with me to take three view chest x-rays (standard views when evaluating cancer in the chest), and to drop her off with Abby and Argos for a long holiday "retreat," so to speak. She is going to have a blast with the two of them, but it did not take away the guilt of leaving her for what could be her last Christmas with us. Unfortunately, the news provided by her x-rays today was not good. The large golf ball sized tumor was slightly bigger than a month ago and also darker than a month ago. There were also two other smaller nodules that appeared to be in their early stages. Considering there was nothing there six months ago, this was not the news we wanted to hear, as it indicates a quick progression of her disease.

Being in my professional mode at the office, I showed the x-rays to my wife Patti so she could better understand what we were looking at and what it meant. She asked what it all meant in the larger context of what Hannah is experiencing now, and what she will experience months down the road. Answering Patti’s questions today was difficult because I don’t really have precise answers. She may be a little extra tired, or unusually quiet in the car where she’s usually very nervous, so I know that she's not feeling 100%. That said, there are no glaring warning signs that she is in pain or deteriorating quickly. The truth is that even if there were, it wouldn't change very much aside from some minor changes to her pain management plan. This process is not in our hands at this point.

Because we are leaving town for the holidays, I left Hannah at the hospital to join Abby and Argos at the end of the workday, which meant coming home to a house with no Hannah. Being home without her was more intense than either Patti or I realized it would be. It was far too quiet in the house, and it was very difficult not to think about what it will be like at home when she is really gone. At dinner, Patti asked me if Hannah would be much different when we got back and I said I certainly hope not. While the x-rays we took today did not change my medical course of action at this time for Hannah, it did confirm that we really need to enjoy each and every day we have left with her. We are dedicated to making that happen.

Hannah is still on her Galliprant for chronic orthopedic pain, but based on her mild lethargy today we may need to add additional pain management in the near future. For now, we wish everyone Happy Holidays and extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has expressed love and kindness towards Hannah. One of the best things about working with animals is that they have very little desire to sit around feeling sorry for themselves, no matter what the circumstances, and that has been absolutely true in Hannah's case. While we are out of state visiting our human family, she is having an absolutely incredible time with Abby, who she has known for nearly a decade, and Argos, who is quite possibly the best friend a lab could have. 

Heading to New York for a little holiday "retreat"


Ferry friends


Enjoying the fresh air


Any weather is beach weather when you're a lab


Christmas in New York


Guarding the presents


Heading home to Newton


Time for a snooze. Traveling is exhausting!


Hope you're all having holidays as happy as Hannah's,

Dr. Hawk