Many of you have asked, 'how is Chara'?
She's still with us. The cancer has progressed, she doesn't have as much energy as she did but is still 'full of life' and we're able to enjoy her for a bit longer. We may have the option of an oral chemotherapy to consider but we may also be at the point of just letting her be and then trust we'll have the wisdom and compassion to know when 'it's time to let her go'.
Thank you for asking.
As many of you know, Chara was diagnosed with canine lymphoma in October of 2017; she was just three at the time and we were told if we did nothing, she would be gone by Christmas. We opted to give her chemotherapy treatments which were effective and she had a period in which there were no signs of the cancer. We knew it would return at some point and it did in the summer of 2018. The first round of chemo was hard on her body, so we opted for a single treatment, which helped for a few months; we repeated this process later in the fall. We were still enjoying our furry friend as we moved into 2019. When the cancer returned in the spring, we opted for a different form of chemotherapy, which has had limited success. As I write this today, May 29th, the cancer has progressed significantly, we're taking her in for a final treatment, hoping it will hold back the progression for a short time until we get back from Ontario -- we're praying that we will be able to come home and be with her through the anticipated decline; just to enjoy her for a bit longer.
We've had an extra year and half with Chara, she's five now and we have been blessed by the joy she has brought into our lives. (Her name means 'joy' and she has certainly lived up to her name!) The thought of seeing her decline is sad, but in this season, she is teaching me some important lessons.
In the movie 'A Dog's Journey' -- Bailey's mission in life is to find his way to C.J., no matter what; to be with her through the highs and lows of life. Chara has been my constant companion for the past five years; a faithful friend through the ups and downs of the journey. To have those in our life who will walk with us through the dark valley and on the mountain top is truly a gift from God. Chara is teaching me to give thanks for such friends in my life.
Proverbs 17:17 says...A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Thank God for the friends He has put in your path; nurture those friendships, lean into one another for strength and courage when the path is difficult and celebrate with great joy the good things you share together.
In the movie 'A Dog's Purpose', Bailey concludes it is a dog's purpose to have fun, to love and laugh, not getting caught in the past or regret, finding someone to be with and living for today. Wise words, would you not agree? Chara is teaching me to live for today. As one who has constantly struggled to live in the moment--my mind is always racing ahead, I am seeking to slow down and just enjoy the present. Yesterday I sat on the back deck with Chara, just enjoying the sunshine and quietness and being with 'my friend' -- those few moments where a gift.
And of course, God desires for us to have those moments in our lives--moments with Him. James writes...Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8) Jesus invites us...Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) And He has told us...Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
I had thought at this point in my journey, I might be farther along the path; being able to abide in, to rest more fully in the presence of my God and enjoy the moments as they happen; I'm still learning; and I'm thankful for a four-legged friend who's helping me during this season and for friends at Valley who are also sharing the journey with me.