During the past two weeks, the question I’ve heard most often (besides queries about Biscuit, of course) is “how are you coping?”
The answer is one simple word: candy.
Okay, let’s take a quick detour. A couple of years ago, my favorite librarian and good friend, Kay, recommended to me Steve Almond’s book Candy Freak based on my love of odd little non-fiction books. As always, her ability to find a perfect book for me was spot on. Candy Freak is a delightful book, full of the sort of acerbic yet earnest observations on the world of the candy industry in America that I really wish I could write. Almond explores what is left of the small candy companies around the country, how the big three (Hershey, Nestle, and Mars) are doing their best to eliminate them, and how many of the small companies continue to survive, and in some cases, thrive in their communities.
So, this has what to do with Kokoro? Well, in the darkest days, those first few after the surgery and initial diagnosis, I dove back into this book to read descriptions of the Starch Mogul, of Clark Bars and Goo Goo Clusters being made, of a man trying to love himself through his hard times with candy. It was terribly distracting, and enormously comforting. Almost as good as eating the candy itself.
On Wednesday of last week, only two days after our trip to Madison, D called me on my mobile phone while I was out on my rounds. I can’t even remember which dog I was walking at the time. I can recall clearly something new in his voice – a touch of lightness, of relief. “Madison just called,” he said. “It’s b-cell lymphoma.”
This was the best news we could have hoped for. Not only was it lymphoma, the most treatable form of cancer in cats, but the most treatable form of lymphoma itself. After a series of coordinating phone calls between the vet in Madison and our vet here, we agreed to go ahead with chemo, like, now, and arranged to begin treatments at our own vet’s office.
We dropped Kokoro off the next morning and waited for another call, this one telling us we could pick him, that he tolerated the chemo well and we could proceed with the entire protocol.
I received that call around 2pm. I was just finishing a walk with a pair of standard poodles – yes, show dogs – who are very good girls. My brain was focused, however, on a very good boy, my Kokoro. Kokoro, who, according to my vet, was feeling fine and acting as if nothing had happened to him that day. Koko, who was ready to go home and begin this new phase in his life.