I know it’s been a while since my last blog, its funny how writing in those early days of recovery really gave me a sense of purpose, and perhaps it was a way to handle the boredom of endless hospital and specialist appointments. After the radiation was over I just got on with living.
A whirl wind of family made life feel normal again. Sarah and I found ourselves doing more than we ever did with continuous adventures around the north island playing tourists with my English family. I was back massaging clients and I even started training again riding 60km on Saturdays’ with my good mate Matt and I even got back to running which felt fantastic.
Things were back to normal, except the ongoing chemo treatments and visits to the oncologist to see that things were progressing as they should be.
But just as things seem to be going well we face another challenge. We woke up on the 25th May the day before my birthday to see my guide dog Zorro looking really flat and unwell. Sarah and I took him to the vet for tests and they said they would keep him overnight. I woke up the next morning to a birthday breakfast in bed with Sarah and the kids and what promised to be a great day. By 4pm that day my world was shaken when the vet called us in and told us Zorro had been scanned and his whole body was riddled with cancer and that if we took him home for the night that he could well internally bleed and die. He was such a strong boy and incredible companion. I keep thinking that he was so sick but just didn’t let me know and just got on with walking long distances and guiding me until his body physically couldn’t do it anymore. I was in complete shock and could comprehend that he wasn’t ok and that we had to make this decision then and there to put him to sleep. Sarah was incredible helping me to do the right thing for Zorro. It was heart wrenching holding him as the vet injected but he was now in peace.
We came home to the kids’ happy faces ready to celebrate with my birthday cake, but when our nine year old son Thomas who saw our red eyes and faces he said ‘where’s Zorro’, neither of us were able to speak and he immediately understand what had happened and he started to cry hysterically as we held him. Our 6 year old daughter Molly hadn’t comprehend what was going on and was crying too but she really didn’t know why everyone was so upset. Sharron, my mother in law, gently explained that Zorro had died and was now in heaven. The kids had grown up with Zorro and to them he was a loved family pet, but for me he was so much more. He was always by my side and it was just so easy to call his name and with enthusiasm he and I would head out anywhere at any time for a walk, he gave me freedom and independence.
It was a hell of a hard time for all of us. We now focus on remembering our beautiful boy who was a fantastic guide and mate.
Rob Matthews MBE. Paralympian