Chapter 68: Sickness Part 1

Call me when you get there,” I mumble against his lips.

 “Mmmhmmm,” he says deepening the kiss.

 He was leaving again for until Friday for the first pre season game against the Blue Jackets.

 “I should probably go,” he says breaking away and looking at his watch.

 “Play well, but don’t put everything you have into it… it’s only preseason and I don’t want one of you boys to miss most of the season like Gonchar did a few years back,” I sigh.

 “Yes mom,” he grins, “Oh, and just a heads up the boys are planning on coming here when we get back.”

 "YES! I’ll dust off the poker chips for them,” I smile leaning into to press another kiss to his lips. He hesitates for a moment before relaxing and putting his arms around me.

“I need to go,” he says picking up his hockey bag and slinging it over his shoulder. I walk out to the car with him and he turns to me before hopping in the car.

“I love you,” he says suddenly extremely serious and a look of worry passes his face.

“I love you too,” I smile. He had been telling me that a lot lately, not that I was complaining but it seemed like something was bugging him.

He smiles weakly and presses his lips to mine for one more kiss before he gets into the car.

I let out a sigh, looking at Bran and Finn who were by my side. I had seen him for a week and he had to leave again. I should have went up to Nova Scotia to see him, I could have found time some how. I really was hoping I could go up for his birthday, but it ended up being one of my busiest weeks. I had called him that day and apologized like crazy for not being there. He said it was fine, but I knew he was upset. Oh well, can’t do anything about it now. It’s not like he was going out with the guys and getting laid every night anyway. He was just relaxing and fishing.

I bend down and pat Finn on the head before turning to Bran. I felt his neck. He still felt swollen, actually more swollen than before and that worried me. You could actually see that his neck hung down a little more.

I sigh and walk into the house biting my lip. I pick up the phone and dial the number.

“Hi, this is Caitlin Shaw, I want to make an appointment for Bran… he’s had some swelling in his neck that I would like to get checked out.”

Sid’s POV

“Did you tell her yet?” Flower asks sitting down beside me on the plane.

 “No,” I sigh, “I figure I’ll tell her when we get back.”

"The longer you wait the harder it will be.”

“I know.”

I couldn’t tell her that I cheated on her, but at the same time I had to. This was big, and I didn’t want it hanging over my head for the rest of my life. We were moved in together so of course the thought of marriage had popped into my head. But marriage worked on honesty right? So how could I keep something like this from her. But at the same time it could permanently damage what we had. We didn’t fight very often and if we did it was small. Maybe it was because we were both so laid back and we seemed to understand each other so well.  But fighting was not something I wanted to get into right now. Ugh, I couldn’t make up my mind and I had no idea how to tell her. So I just kept putting it off. But Flower was right. I did need to tell her, I think.

Caitlin’s POV

The week seems to fly by, work was starting to slow down but I was busy with the pups and paper work that needed to be caught up. Anyway before I know it it’s Friday. Sid was coming home sometime in the evening and Bran had an appointment at 2:00.

I took him to a vet I had been going to for years. Even though it was over an hour away, I trusted the vet and knew the whole clinic well.

We walk in and I tell the vet techs we’re here. I’m nervous as hell but trying not to allow Bran to pick up on it. But of course he does. He nuzzles my hand as we wait in the waiting room. He lifts my hand and it flops back onto his head.

"I'll be ok bud. Everything is going to be ok," I tell him; I know he doesn't understand but it's more of a comfort to me then to him. I was afraid that it was something serious, but I kept telling myself that I was working myself up over nothing. It was probably just something that antibiotics could help him fight off.  I had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I tried my best to ignore it.

"Caitlin, you and Bran can come in this room," I hear one of the vet techs call from one of the two rooms.

"Alright let's go Bran," I say taking a deep breath and getting out of the simple wooden chairs.

We walk in the room and the tech asks for my description of why Bran is there after taking his temperature.

"Well, I recently felt a little swelling in his neck and his glands are pretty swollen. And they have grown in the past week. So I just wanted to come in and check it out," I sigh.

"Is there anything else? Lack of energy, not eating?" she asks writing things down.

"No not really. I mean he's been hanging back a little on our jog, but other than that, nothing," I say.

"Alright, his temp is normal so that's good. Dr. Cameron will be in soon," she says closing the folder and walking out the back door.

I sigh and wait patiently, looking at the various charts that I had seen multiple times before.

A little later the door opens revealing a rather tall man in his 60s. He had white hair and a lab coat on, holding Bran's file.

"Caitlin, good to see you," Dr. Cameron says shaking my hand.

"You too Dr. Cameron," I smile.

"Caitlin how many times have I told you, call me Bruce," he sighs shaking his head with a smile.

"Sorry," I smile back. 

"Well Bran, how is our most noble dog doing?" he asks receiving a tail wag from Bran as he pets him. "What seems to be the problem?"

"Well, I noticed Bran's Sub-mandibular lymph nodes have been a little swollen lately, and I just wanted to see if anything is wrong," I state.

"Caitlin, I tell you this ever time you come here. You should really be a vet, you're more than qualified. Alright, let's see," Dr. Cameron says feeling Bran's throat, "Mmmhmm, I see what you mean. Has he been eating?"

"Yeah, he's been eating fine. But he's still lost a little weight. And he has been kinda hanging back on the jog."

"Mmmhmm, I see," the vet says feeling that back of Bran's legs and where his front legs begin, 

"His popliteal lymph nodes feel a little swollen too. I'm going to take some blood and see how everything is. The results should come back in about 15 mionutes."

"What do you think it is as of now?" I ask, dreading the answer.

"Well, I don't think you really need me to tell you that. It could be that he just caught a bug and is trying to fight it off, or it could be cancer. I won't know until I run these tests," he says darkly, "Let's just hope it's the first one." He says leaving the room.

"Yeah, hope," I say looking out into space. In my gut I know what it probably is, but I pray that it’s not.

I pet Bran as I wait for the reply, subconsciously chewing my lip nervously as I run my fingers through his coarse black fur.

About 20 minutes later Dr. Cameron walks back in. His head low, from his body language I know my worst fears are about to be confirmed.

"Well, we got the test results back and it's..." he sighs taking off his glasses not able to meet my eyes.

"Yeah, I thought so," I reply quietly holding in the tears.

"It's lymphoma, Caitlin, Bran does have cancer," he says, he looks at me briefly and I can see that his own eyes are looking a little misty.

"It is extremely rare for a dog so young to get it. We usually don't have dogs getting it until they're at least 8. It's very rare for a dog that is only 6 to get it."

"So rare that it’s happened twice," I murmur.

"Twice?" he asks looking at me.

"Yeah. When I was younger I had a Border Collie that developed lymphoma at 4,"I sigh the tears threatening to fall, as I think back to Annie and what she had gone through.

"I'm sorry," he says, "But you do have options. We could do chemo and Bran could be cancer free."

"With lymphoma that is such a low probability and even then it comes back soon after. No that's not an option. I have seen dogs going through chemo. They are tired and weak. Bran would be miserable. I won't do that to him."

"But you could add time to his life," he tries to insist.

"Maybe a year at most, I know how it works Dr. Cameron, lymphoma is not an easy cancer in dogs," I shake my head.

"Well there are always steroids," he sighs, "But once you begin steroids you can't opt for chemo, it doesn't work after taking them. But it could put the cancer in remission for awhile, and we have seen very good results with it."

"Yeah, let's do that," I sigh.

"Alright, I'll put him on Prednisolone and then he'll have to take an antacid with it so it doesn't eat away at his stomach," he says writing it on Bran's file.

"Right," I say swallowing tears.

"I'm very sorry Caitlin. I know how much Bran means to you and how close you two are," he says shaking his head leaving the room.

"Yeah," I reply as Bran puts his head on my lap, sensing my sadness, "Alright Bran, let's go home."

I stop at the front desk to pick up his meds and pay before we leave. I keep it together through the hour and a half trip home to Pittsburgh.

I let Bran out of the car and we walk into the house where my pack senses my distress and leaves me alone. I walk up to my room, the tears beginning to fall from my face. I fall onto the bed in sobs. I needed to be alone and grieve for awhile, thankfully Sid was on a road trip.

"How can this be happening again?" I say aloud as sobs rack my body.

As I cry I think of Annie and what she had gone through. I was there with her until the very end. Her journey from diagnosis to her death plays over and over again like a horror movie stuck on repeat. I sob into my pillow knowing that there is nothing I can do.

Bran has lived his life to the fullest. Saving countless people and probably dogs from death. He helped me get through some of the toughest times of my life. He was my partner, what would I do without him? Keep living, that's all I could do. But I knew that our life could not change because he had cancer, and I knew that Bran didn't want it to change. He would go on jogs like always until he no longer had the energy to run, he would stay with the other dogs and be my second in command until he would step down, he would sleep with me when Sid was on road trips, and he would go to work and be with me until the day he died.

I cry knowing that in a few months at best, Bran would die.

August 21, 2009 at Friday, August 21, 2009

8 Comments to "Chapter 68: Sickness Part 1"

I know how she feels, I just had to put my sweet dog to sleep this week! It was a great 13 years with her. Always sad to say goodbye!

I hope that Sid will still tell her because she deserves to know what he did! Can't wait for more!

Ahhhh! Nooooooo!!! I my heart is breaking in two right now. First the cheating and now poor Bran has cancer. A definite recipe for impending disaster!! I hope everything works out okay and update soon so that we know what happens :D

Great chapter!!!!

Okay, you seriously had me in tears. Dogs are my weakness. :-( Too sad to hear about Bran. Now I can't decide if I want Sid to tell her right when he gets back or not. Something in the back of my mind is telling me he won't..

I can believe he cheated on her.... I really don't want them to break up. Poor Bran.

I feel so sad for Bran and Caitlin...cancer is awful in any being...

This certainly makes it more stressful for Sid to tell her the truth, but it has to happen and soon.

Great writing, girl!

Aeryn, I love you. I really do but seriously this story is causing me serious mental distress! I mean its actually making me so nervous i don't want to eat. Partially because of my one dog dying right before christmas and the other is now sick as well... factor in the Sid thing and... god you are such a good writer!!!

Please don't let this kill me, lol! But this is truly wonderful!

What an emotional roller coaster you have us going on right now. I feel so bad for Caitlin, to have to put a dog down in the hardest thing. Worst, Sid's definitely not going to tell her once he hears about Bran.

Posted by Anonymous ( August 27, 2009 at 9:53 PM )

i'm going crazy without an update lol!!

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Discovering...Love? by AS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.