Regarding Hamsters, Taxol, and Regret

Regret.  It’s the houseguest that has overstayed his welcome.  No matter how irritable you become, how uncomfortable you try to make them feel; they stay.  Each morning you look across the breakfast table at this guest hoping today will be the day they say,” we should really head out this afternoon.”  But instead, Regret looks at you over his bowl of steaming oatmeal and says sheepishly,  “So what’s on our agenda for today?”

Regret. It comes with decisions. Decisions accompany choices; and sometimes, choices lead to regret.  I have made two decisions recently that have brought this overnight guest into my house. The first was my choice to let Maeve get a baby hamster.  This 6 week old rodent which she affectionately named, Molly, was my consolation prize to Maeve for having to deal with the fact that her mother has cancer and to follow through on a promise that ‘when I am done with the bad chemo’ that we would consider getting her a pet of her own. The fact that I hate caged animals and that I offered to buy another dog did not sway Maeve’s insistence that she have her very own pet – a cute cuddly rodent that would live in her room.

The cost of the cage, exercise wheel, organic food, yogurt treats, wooden chews, running ball, lavender scented wood chips, cotton batting, and the hamster itself: $98.00.  The look on Maeve’s face when we set it all up: priceless. I was happy with my decision, even though the boys looked at me like I had lost my mind and the dog began to drool and run in circles from the minute little Molly, a natural enemy to the canine species, became a part of our family. It didn’t matter, Maisy was happy, and when Maisy is happy the whole world is happy.

Within a few days something else happened.  I became somewhat fond of the little bastard – dare I say attached?  We had taken it from it’s mother so I felt bad for Molly.  When Maeve was at school I would sneak up to her room and check on the cage, make sure Molly was sleeping, or if she was up, I would watch in fascination as she ran on her wheel, getting nowhere, and feel a kinship as to our own rat-race that we seem to run everyday.  I did not admit this to Maeve though.  When she came home from school I would say, “go play with the rodent.”

“Her name is Molly!” Maeve insisted, “Why can’t you call her Molly?”

“Sorry, I just can’t get my head around that name,” I would say, “It’s just a rodent to me.”

She never knew that I did call her Molly, when I talked to her in our one-on-one sessions in the quiet hours of the day.

So yesterday when I found Molly on the dining room rug, stomach up with her little paws curled, staring at the ceiling, it didn’t register at first. Our dog Carly skulked by me and it took a few seconds to put the scenario together.  Oh, this wasn’t a gift that Carly brought in from outside, it was…oh, poor Molly.

My regret in the decision to house this pet is thinking that an 8-year-old little girl was old enough and responsible enough to take care of a pet on her own.  The fact that she left Molly “asleep” as she said in a pocketbook in the den when she went upstairs to play, is proof that she wasn’t responsible enough.

“But I put a dictionary next to her to protect her,” she said.

Well, you can see the reasoning there.  Just in case a large dog comes to eat her, Molly could wow the canine with her mastery of the English language.  Or maybe they could play a little word-find game long enough to distract the drooling mutt so little Molly could run away and hide.

Anyway, a regretful decision when I think that someone else, with a little more caged-pet experience could be loving Molly right now, sleeping happily while listening to the squeak, squeak of her exercise wheel.  Still this was a minor regret, kind of like a weekend guest. The regret that has started to set up semi-permanent residence in my house, the one that leaves their toiletries out in my bathroom and begins to get personal calls on my phone is my decision to forgo the last nine weeks of Taxol.  

At the time this decision seemed easy. “No thank you, I am all set.” I had said to the Doctor when she recommended that I continue with the treatment. I was very confident in my choice.  Now, 6 weeks later, I am not so sure.  It is a nagging thought that lingers in the recesses of my mind –what if?  What if the cancer comes back because I didn’t take the Taxol? Did I base my decision on vanity, because I so much wanted my hair back? I wanted to feel good and run and bike and breath. Was I too hasty?  I think now that nine weeks in the scheme of life is not a long time, but when faced with the decision it seemed like an eternity.

Every time that I tell someone the story of being taken off the chemo and asked to resume it and then deciding to skip it, I get the same reaction.  A puzzled look comes across their faces as if to say, “Hmmm, do you think that was wise?”  It’s disconcerting. These people care about me and want me to be around for a while; they look at the long term.  I, unfortunately was concerned with the short-term.

I will not know for a long time if I made the right decision regarding the chemo.  With Molly, it took only took 6 days to learn my lesson. But regret is a terrible thing.  It can become insipid and fester the longer it sticks around. I will try to put it out of my mind, stay busy, and forget about my houseguest. But the problem with a guest that won’t leave is that whenever you come home at the end of the day, hoping for peace and quiet, there they are, keeping you up at night.

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About francesbarrie

Cancer survivor,mom,triathlete,writer,jewelry maker, baker. Staying happy and healthy,living life and enjoying it one moment at a time.
This entry was posted in breast cancer, chemotherapy, health, regret, taxol, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Regarding Hamsters, Taxol, and Regret

  1. Summer says:

    Franny,
    What an amazing way to look at regret and so beautifully written. We all live with regret on a daily basis especially if we have kids. I regret not spending enough time with Ashley or too much time with her thinking I am spoiling her. I regret being on the phone if she is around or not teaching her constantly. It doesn’t seem to stop when you are a parent but it is true…you have to listen to your insticnt and do what seems right or else we will be second guessing ourselves constantly and who wants to live like that. I am sure you made the right decsion for you at the time regarding your treatment. And if something changes down the road, you will face another decsion based on your gut feeling.
    I am sure little Molly will be missed and even though she may have lived longer with someone else, she may not have had as much fun as she had with all of you. Now how many hampsters can say they got to stay in a purse. She had a happy life although short.
    Take care and I hope to read more of your writings.
    Love
    Summer

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