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by Teri Modisette
“Ironically, I didn’t know about Luke Robinson’s walk until a few days before he arrived in the Washington/Oregon area,” says Diane Reyes. “I was online looking for information about Great Pyrenees, because we fostered one for a while. Then I saw these two gorgeous dogs and thought, I wonder what that’s about? When I found out Luke was passing by so closely, I was excited. I started calling every number I could find, and looking up every person with a website, saying, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’”
Cancer itself made an unwelcome, surprise visit to Diane and Vince’s doorstep in 2003, coming to their beloved golden retriever, Molly. A tragic diagnosis for a household committed to health. Diane, a dietician herself, is wife to a cardiologist and sister to an oncology nurse.
With canine cancer, treatment options were quite limited one decade ago. At age six, Molly did a year of intense chemotherapy that thankfully obliterated her mast cell tumor--and just like that, the tail wags were back. “I was so concerned that the treatment would hurt. I went to the oncology center in Beverly Hills, and everyone there was so wonderful. The tumors are so much like what [humans] get. Back then only two places in the state of California even dealt with canine cancer.”
Molly lived until age 13, when new cancer cells started to rapidly multiply in her lungs. “There was nothing anyone could do,” said Diane. The day she started going downhill, I took her to her favorite pond to do her favorite thing: swim with the ducks. At midnight, she was dry heaving and wouldn’t eat or drink, so we went to the vet. I was with her during those last breaths, just hyperventilating, but she wouldn’t leave me until I calmed down. After a minute, I calmed down, and took one long breath--and I finally felt her head drop on my arm.”
Molly’s battle is like many other accounts of human and canine lives ended too early--accounts that got Luke Robinson walking America’s pavements in the first place. “He walks with such commitment and authority; it’s almost reverent,” says Diane. “I read about Malcolm and Murphy and what happened to them. My husband read his blog and said, ‘Do you know how many miles he’s walked?’ Luke loves his dogs. It’s scary how often [cancer] happens, and no one seems to understand why.”
With the phones and computers stowed and the dogs trading shy sniffs, Luke, Diane, and Vince swapped stories of bereavement and healing, becoming fast friends. “I have three step-children, and it was like they’d visited,” said Diane. “Luke came down in the morning with his sheets and towels and told us he’d made his bed like his mom always taught him.” Diane laughs. “He is so considerate of people’s homes. He said, ‘You know, I can cook!’”
“And I said, ‘Well next time, you’re going to cook.’ He’s doing a good thing. It makes me want to do my own 2-mile walk.”
”There’s always something we can do.”
Teri Modisette is a Houston-based writer, Pinterest pinner, and speaker. She has an energetic Yorkie, Jake, and considers it an honor to write in Molly’s memory.
If you're interested in walking with Luke, Hudson, and Indy, you can contact Ginger (email@example.com) to find out how.