If you’d have told me three years ago that this little ball of fur would completely change my world, I’d have scoffed it off. But that’s exactly what happened. Stringer Bell just has this way of lifting your spirits. A couple of months ago, he was diagnosed with advanced Lymphoma and given two months to live. Life since then has been endless vet visits, medication, tears and cuddles. But because he’s Super Pup, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
My ex and I brought him home from the breeder when he was 10 weeks old and Stringer and I quickly became inseparable. When my relationship with my ex ended, he very kindly agreed to let me keep Stringer – only now, faced with the prospect of losing him, can I appreciate how difficult that decision must have been. I’ll be forever grateful to my ex for that.
So Stringer and I set off on our new adventure. We moved to the other side of London, I started a new job, became a spin instructor on the side and went about the business of trying to rebuild my life post-break up. I was flat broke, super scared, overwhelmed and drowning in a sea of change. But the one thing I had was Stringer.
It’s hard to explain the bond between dog and owner to non-pet people. Truly, I was never a dog person myself, so I would’ve thought this was all bollocks before experiencing it for myself. When I’d get home from work in tears, completely overwhelmed with everything life was throwing at me, Stringer would quietly curl up in my lap and stay there til the tears stopped. He got me out of the house when all I wanted to do was hide. He made me laugh with his endless puppy silliness. As he grew, we worked each other out a little more, he’d follow commands better, be on his best behaviour when we were out and about. My world has been all about him.
Bottom line: Stringer Bell has made me a better human.
Cut to July 25th this year and me sobbing in the vet’s office as she told me Stringer has advanced Lymphoma and probably only had a couple of months to live. Everything just seemed to stop.
Treatment started; antibiotics, pro-biotics, chemotherapy – Stringer’s taken it all like a champ. Every day, I’ve gone to work to teach spin and try to uplift and inspire people. On more than one occasion, I’ve cried on the bike. My colleagues, friends, riders, everyone has been so supportive of our situation. Being an eternal optimist, I chose to believe that Stringer could make a come back. He’s only three, he can’t possibly die yet. I’ve been showering him with so much love and positivity, I’m sure if he could talk, he’d be saying ‘ALRIGHT! ENOUGH ALREADY!’
Then last week, the vet called and gave me the results of his latest blood test. The abnormal white blood cells that had been circulating in his system (the nasty cancerous ones) are no longer there! The vet’s as shocked as I am. She’s being very careful to state he’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s approaching remission. That phone call came exactly two months and three days after he was given two months to live.
Stringer Bell is nothing if not a fighter.
If he goes into remission, we don’t know how long that’ll be for and his Lymphoma was very advanced when he presented with it, so we’re taking it week-by-week, but love and good vibes have brought us a long way.
To say his treatment has been expensive would be an understatement. Two days ago, I got word from the insurance company that they won’t cover it. It’s for sure a stress that I don’t need at a difficult time, but Stringer and I will soldier on.
What I didn’t expect when I woke up this morning was that a wonderful friend of mine in New York has started up a Go Fund Me page to help with Stringer’s treatment. I can’t even find the words to adequately explain how moved I am that someone would do this for us.
Stringer means so much to so many people. When I’m with him on the tube, I see people’s faces light up. When I take him to see friends, they can’t get enough of cuddling him. When I take him up to Leeds to see my family, my mother cooks him omelettes and my dad loves to take him out for muddy, country walks.
He is so loved.
And I don’t want to lose him. Not yet.
So, if Stringer has brought a little joy to your life, or you’re just a pet owner who gets it, and you feel moved to donate, I would be so so grateful.
For now, Stringer Bell: Super Pup fights on.