Do you want the bad news first or the really bad news?

My 45th birthday party in October.

How’s your pandemic going?

Ours has been bad, epically bad. The worst thing that happened is that we lost Mia in May, but it wasn’t unexpected. We were so so lucky to have her in our lives as long as we did. I actually went to a pet loss support group in February, thinking we were close to having to make the hard decision.

When the world locked down, having Mia in our home for those first couple of months meant everything. Caring for an elderly dog is much easier when you can be home with her all the time.

In April, seemingly out of nowhere, I found out I had ovarian cancer. I had three chemotherapy infusions and then surgery in June. The chemotherapy didn’t work on the cancer, but the surgery did. I have a rare type called low-grade serous ovarian cancer, which did not respond to chemo, but at this time, I have no evidence of disease.

In September, twelve weeks to the day from my ovarian cancer surgery, I stumbled over my own stupid feet and fractured my ankle in three places. The injury is called a trimalleolar fracture, and the surgery to fix it is called an open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). That experience was worse than having cancer. I spent a miserable night in the emergency room in Seattle, and then I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg for six weeks. However, once the cast came off, I progressed very quickly from walking with two crutches, to one crutch to no crutches.

So I had two really terrible medical experiences within a six-month period. Neither hurt as much as losing Mia.

While all this was going on, Leo started having seizures more frequently. He’s been on anti-convulsants since his second seizure a little more than a year ago. In July, he had an MRI that confirmed what I suspected: he has a brain tumor. He also has intervertebral disk disease. In August, he had three treatments of stereotactic radiation, which we hoped would give him up to a year and a half to live. He’s 10 years old now, so that sounded like a good deal.

Leo poses with a lion the day we learned that his seizures were caused by a meningioma in his brain.

But he had increasing mobility problems with his hind end, and continued having breakthrough seizures. A follow-up MRI in November showed that not only had the radiation not shrunk his brain tumor and his IVDD was worse, but that he ALSO has two tumors in his abdomen.

Remember in E.T. when Elliott and E.T. were so linked that they seemed to be dying at the same time? That’s me and Leo. I had three tumors. He has three tumors. In October, neither of us could walk.

Then the psychic link was broken and Elliott got better and E.T. didn’t?

My tumors were removed and my ankle got better. Leo has three inoperable tumors and can’t walk.

But he’s still here. And for that, I’m thankful.

Four weeks after my cast came off, I could walk around the block with one crutch, but Leo couldn’t. Rob got him an XXL wagon to take him on adventures.

8 thoughts on “Do you want the bad news first or the really bad news?

  1. Hi Leo, Kari and Rob. I have been following your posts for quite some time. I was first intoduced to you and your book while taking a class from Carmen Williams several years ago, with my Miniature Schnauzer, Brody…..you had just published it. Then I watched the love and care you and Rob gave Mia as she transitioned to cross the bridge. Then came the news of your cancer and OMG, your broken ankle as well as Leo’s meningioma and other tumors. Your Karma cup must be running over! And you are very blessed to have such a supportive partner in Rob.

    On July 9th I went into Virginia Mason in Seattle for a hip replacement expecting to come back home the next day…but found out that while in recovery I had had 4 seizures…never had anything before that. After CATs and MRIs they found I had a left frontal meningioma the size of a lemon. I had not had any indications and was so lucky to have been at Virginia Mason with a wonderful Neurology Team. Five days later they found that the tumor had not spread into my brain and it was removed. I finally left the hospital July 21st. I had an MRI last Monday which showed my brain had moved back up to its normal size with no further tumor…and I have a great bionic hip…so I got a great “twofer”.

    I mention all of this because as you know life can suddenly throw unexpected challenges at us at any time. And the attitude we throw back can help in our recovery. I have no idea when and what new challenges will come up and because of the pandemic Brody and I are living alone. But he is 11 and mostly blind but full of piss and vinegar so we will take each day as it comes and be thankful for getting to share another day of good health. I wish you, Rob and Leo a special day of Thanks tomorrow and future days of good health….Diane & Brody

    • Oh my goodness! You have been through it too! I’m so glad you’re on the road to recovery and that they caught it when they did. My ovarian cancer snuck up on me too. I had no symptoms that I was aware of. Here’s to early detection!

  2. Love to you all! I love the short blue hair with the purple cast you were rocking. Mango sends an extra special lick to Leo. I know you already are treasuring these moments with him, but wishes from all of us for lots of sweet times together. I think of you every time I see a shepherd in need of rescue…I’ve known no better shep parents, ever!

  3. Wow, sorry for all that you have gone through. Where did you get the cool wagon from so I can get one?

  4. Have you looked at cbd oil for the seizures and the disk disease? It does wonders with all sorts of things for pets and people.

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