The Next Chapter in My Dog Loving Life

Something really big is coming our way. I don’t know what it is, but something really big is coming, and I feel it coming soon. It’s the next chapter in my dog loving life.

It was the summer of 2017 and those are the exact words I said aloud to my wife. This blog is called Fidose of Reality and there are so many things I am now wanting and able to share so that you, my family of followers, readers, friends, and dog lovers of the highest order know what’s going on in my life and where I am headed. Here’s our (fi)dose of reality:

dog loving family

Feelings…Nothing More Than Feelings

In the fall of 2017, within the span of one week, my wife learned she had lung cancer and my dog was diagnosed and hospitalized for a life-threatening immune-mediated disease.

I told my wife, Darlene, that I still felt something big was coming, and that this wasn’t the end of our uncertain news brigade. Do you ever get that inner feeling that something isn’t right, you cannot put your finger on it, but you know or sense that something is about to change, and maybe that something is even for the better? I was getting that feeling in epic, overwhelming waves.

We Will Survive

Darlene was diagnosed with stage 1 adenocarcinoma of the lung. During a routine pre-op chest x-ray before kidney stone removal surgery, a few unremarkable nodules appeared. Although her family doctor recommended watchful waiting and just following them because apparently millions of people have lung nodules these days, Dar wanted reassurance and not to just sit and wait. I agreed then and now, thank Dog. We aren’t people to sit and let grass grows under our feet.

Bottom line: A CT scan to assess the lung nodules evolved into a PET scan due to two suspicious areas with an eventual lung biopsy at a cancer center. Adenocarcinoma, early stage, no spread to lymph nodes was the diagnosis. During the fall of 2017 and eventual holiday season, we spent much of Thanksgiving week and Black Friday at the cancer center where Dar received five separate high dose radiation treatments. The treatments are not the typical radiation, but rather akin to cyber knife where highly targeted radiation attacks the cancer with a 90% success rate versus 100% success rate to dissect and remove it.

Option B for cancer removal involved a procedure called VATS, which is basically where they shut your lungs down, remove the offending nodules and surrounding tissue, and you spend nearly a week in the hospital to recover with a solid three month recovery. It isn’t for the weak of heart, but Dar had this procedure a year earlier for when the nodules were first discovered. We learned from much research and talking to the pros, that you want to preserve lung tissue.

For the next several years, as has been the case since late 2016, Darlene must undergo CT scans of the chest every 3 months. She has many lung nodules, and as stated, apparently this is a more than common occurrence in people these days. Doctors are finding them due to the advancement of technology and CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, etc.

If there is any change in shape or rapid growth rate, a PET scan will follow and if the areas light up, then a biopsy to determine if it is cancer or not. The nodules, by the way, are millimeters in size.

After struggling with anxiety and sheer terror at this lifelong sentence, I came to this conclusion: The alternative is much worse. If we let this go and Dar ignored her desire and innate need to know what was happening, this would advance and be more of a struggle to control.

We’ve learned of a term called scanxiety where folks, like Dar, must be scanned in regular intervals and the not knowing simply sucks. It is that not knowing that can consume a person’s thought process. I know because it has consumed me for a very long time. We never shared any of this on social media.

My wife is a warrior. She prefers not to talk about stuff like this with friends and on social media and to just deal with it. Me, I am the talky, feely, let me talk to someone so I don’t fall apart type of person. She told me not to share the news but that if I needed to deal with it, then to form a private and confidential support group of friends. Yes, that’s my wife: Facing cancer and worried about my own feelings. So a private group of friends was formed, learned of the news, and they even wore custom bracelets during her fight. I will never forget the generosity and love they showed and continue to show.

dar dog
My beautiful family.

The 3-month scan in February of 2018 showed the two cancerous nodules were gone and the radiation was a success. I cannot begin to tell you the sheer joy and gratitude we felt and continue to feel. The next scan and oncology visit is late May. Bear with me and keep reading because this will evolve into where I am headed career wise. These are the most frequently asked questions we have received:

  1. Is or was Dar a smoker? She quit over 25 years ago, but yes, she smoked cigarettes for many years. We don’t know if that caused this issue with the nodules. It could be because we live in an area where asbestos in schools was the norm growing up. We live in an area where radon testing in homes was not the norm until we were adults. We just won’t ever know.
  2. Can nonsmokers get lung nodules and/or lung cancer? Yes! We are told that a large percentage of people with lung cancer have never smoked nor been around smoke.
  3. How can I prevent this from happening to me? Don’t wait until you have symptoms. Trust your gut. Insist on further testing if in this situation. By the time there are outward symptoms, the cancer is generally a higher stage. Dar had NO symptoms.
  4. Why are we talking about this now? To help others and to share our journey.

So we deal as it comes, make healthy lifestyle modifications, and live life to the fullest. We cannot let scanxiety rule our emotions and we won’t, despite my own ease at succumbing to it as the re-scan date approaches. Due diligence and quarterly followup is now a part of our lives. Catching things early, if there is anything to be caught, is the key to tackling this head on. She also had every test known to mankind to assure nothing had spread. It hadn’t. Thank Dog.

During this time period, as stated, our dog, Dexter, was diagnosed with a very aggressive immune system disease, for which he is now in remission. We get by with a lot of help from our friends.

Read Dexter’s journey with IMT here.

Things Come in Threes

Remember that “something big” feeling I just could not shake? Boom! It happened.

In March of 2018, I learned that my position at BlogPaws under Chewy’s leadership would be eliminated. For those who do not know, I was the Marketing/PR/Social Media Manager at BlogPaws for close to seven years. My family and I, Dexter included, attended all 10 BlogPaws Conference and I helped to grow the community and company to the social media pet industry icon it is today.

BlogPaws through years

 

When I engage in something and for something that is my passion, it never feels like work. BlogPaws never felt like work to me because I loved what I did. I worked remote, as I have since 2001, and I found my place in the world.

This was my third layoff from a full-time employee position over the years at three separate companies, all as a result of corporate acquisitions and mergers. I began to realize that full-time employment is not necessarily the secure future it once was…at least for me.

One thing I have learned in my life after three corporate mergers with eventual layoffs: It’s not the action of the corporations that define you…it’s how you react, rise up, reinvent, and own your destiny that says it all. I will never walk away from something that is in my DNA and I feel so strongly about.  I am never leaving the pet blogging world. I can’t change some things, but I can change me and my direction so that I am a part of this amazing tribe that I love from the bottom of my heart. Pet bloggers, unite, our time is now. We are a force with which to be reckoned. I wish nothing but success for the company I helped to grow.

The second thing I learned from this experience is that losing your job pales in comparison to the thought of losing your spouse and dog. Jobs can be replaced. People and pets cannot.

I worked my final BlogPaws Conference in Kansas City, Missouri the week of April 17th and now I can focus on new horizons and that inner “big” feeling I’ve been hinting about. The friends and pet blogger pals I have made along the way will not go away; they are an essential part of who I am. The cool thing about this BlogPaws Community is the friendships and bonds form do not end with the closure of my full-time employment. I am not bitter and I am feeling pretty darned blessed these days.

The “big” thing that was due to descend on my life was not the news of family health issues nor job loss….it is to finally follow my heart, my passions, my goals, and forge my own way.

idea book

Wow, wow, wow. What a very powerful tale and imagery in this book that I was just gifted from a very special friend. She knows who she is, she inspires me, and I look forward to all of our shared greatness ahead. If you need a boost, are ready for a new path, and/or need inspawration, snag this book because at present I can’t clone my very special friend. Thank you.

What Do You Do With an Idea?

I love:

  • Dogs
  • Helping people, including dog parents and pet bloggers
  • Writing
  • Teaching
  • Working with pet industry brands I trust and love
  • Education
  • Working remote in my fully functioning home office
  • Traveling with my family
  • Keeping up with the pet industry
  • Speaking to a group and speaking on camera

In letting go and being let go, I could now embrace who I am supposed to be. I could claim my destiny as my own. A cloud of relief washed over me and poked at me as if to say, “It’s time to stop being afraid to take a chance on you.”

I give permission to myself to be who and what I want to be: A dog lover of the highest order who affects the world via the bulleted list above.

Ironically, I’ve been feeling like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz throughout 2018, in that I have had the power all along. It’s time to use it. As I stood with my co-workers in Kansas City, Missouri I felt like my team of a scarecrow, tin man, lion, and Dorothy with Toto, too, all embraced our inner fire and are poised to glow.

Team that rocks
L to R: Maggie Marton, Bernard Lima-Chavez, Aimee Beltran, and Carol Bryant

My New Career Path

I received the Dog Writer’s Association of America Distinguished Service Award sponsored by the American Kennel Club earlier this year. Coupled with the success of my blog, the encouragement and messages of support I’ve received from dog parents over the years, and my wife’s encouragement to be a part of this new chapter in my life, I am forming my own business!!!

In writing this post, Rick Astley’s “Together Forever” came on the radio. He bellows what I am doing:

So don’t stop me falling
It’s destiny calling
A power I just can’t deny
It’s never changing
Can’t you hear me, I’m saying
I want you for the rest of my life

In my acceptance speech at the Dog Writer’s dinner and awards in February, I shared the (fidose) of reality of who I am:

Two things got me through my childhood, which was not an easy one, and those two things are books and dogs. Here I am as an adult, and two things continue to save me and those are books and dogs. (although now I have the love of the most incredible human being on the planet, but that’s another blog post).

My heart beats dog® and I know I am not alone in this canine cardiac rhythm. We live in a country divided and I think it’s safe to say that dogs unite us. Dogs are the best of us when the worst of us let us down. My life is truly a celebration of dogs’ time here on earth.

Those who have learned to love more richly because of a dog I have found carry a light in their souls. Dogs welcome us into their worlds and they want us to celebrate with them. Dogs have taught me to be more of a human being and less of a human doing.

Today, tomorrow, and until my final breath, I celebrate dogs.

You can watch my speech here:

Distinguished service award sponsored by the American Kennel Club at Dog Writers Association of America in New York City:

Posted by Fidose of Reality on Saturday, February 10, 2018

 

My Next Chapters

I will be working with brands I believe in and sharing them with you so that your dogs can live longer, healthier lives. I will be writing books…books for life. I will be speaking and teaching online and in person as my career evolves. I will be helping dogs and dog parents in a variety of ways. I will continue fundraising and working with pet lovers who want to become influential online through a blog, social media, and a number of ways. I will be taking on clients who believe in healthy dogs and allow a closer look into who they are. I’m a dedicated, committed kind of gal: I am loyal to the brands and companies I work with and I will make an indelible imprint on your business, your dog, your shared goals better than you could ever imagine. I love making pet people and their dogs happy. I am pulling back the green curtain, clicking my heels three times, owning my destiny, and taking the ideas to task. Goals, for me, are dreams on a timeline. I am poised for success and to leave this world a better place for dogs than when I entered it back in 1968.

If you are a pet brand wanting to work with me, let’s connect. I have so many things in store, that I am certain you’ll want to be a part of them. If you are a dog parent reading this, please connect with me in any of the links below. I promise you’ll learn and have fun in the process.

This year, I turn 50 on Christmas Day and I feel better than I ever have internally and emotionally. Stay with me on this journey, walk with me through this exciting new chapter, and let me continue to be a part of your lives. It won’t be an overnight launch, and it will take time to build, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Good things come to those who wait, but greater things come to those who act on their goals. I am taking my female-owned entrepreneur status to the next level, and I am so excited that I no longer have to hide it! I have a very secret weapon who is the most creative and intelligent person I have ever known: my wife, Darlene, and oh the ideas she has! #Squee

The best is yet to come.


* Special thanks to planner queen extraordinaire and friend, Jodi Chick, for the above.

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Comments

  1. Wow, wow, wow, wow! Carol Bryant you’re the real deal and I just know your creativity, energy, and passion will soar! The dog world is so lucky to have you as their advocate and I can’t wait to see the next chapter in your life. I’m your friend and follower for life. You’ve made such a difference in my life with dogs.

  2. Sqeeeeee!!!! I have a saying on my printer that I repeat every day, “TODAY IS THE DAY”. Today is YOUR day, Carol! So honored to know and love you!!!! Aim higher than the clouds and I’ll be ready to watch you soar! (and, learning from you along the way as I always have…!)

  3. Carol, congratulations on the next chapter of your life. I know you’ll be brilliant!

  4. You have been through so much in this last year! I am in awe of your strength to bear it. It looks like the future holds some awesome things for you. Thank you for all of the work that you’ve done with BlogPaws and with all of us pet bloggers. You’ve made a difference for me. I think your new business with be a big success. I’ll be praying for Dar and Dex with their medical issues. They have been very courageous in their fights so far. I hope that they both see complete healing. 🙂

  5. I cannot wait to see how you blossom and grow. I’m so excited to see just what you do next because nothing you do is less than fabulous. You have an been an absolute inspiration for me and my personal journey to help pets and pet parents. I’m so happy and lucky to call you a friend. <3

  6. Holy cow! Knowing two of the three items was bad, but that third one really got me. Enjoy you new business doing what you love! You will be successful!

  7. Concats on this being the first day of the rest of your life. Live it to the fullest (and don’t forget the talented cats in your life)! You have the talent and creativity to own whatever you set out to do. Happy I finally got up the nerve to talk to you (and Dar) in Myrtle Beach. I love you both.

    PS: My mom never smoked a day in her life and died of lung cancer in January 2000.

    • I have your name on my list of calls to make in June. I am so thankful for you, Susan.

  8. OMD, I am SO happy for you!! Working for yourself and continuing to do what you love, that is awesome!! I wish you the best as “Carol 2.0” grows from dream to reality to soaring success!

    I just signed up for your newsletter this morning so I can watch as you grow.

  9. I am so glad I know you and so glad I know Darlene. I am forever grateful for the kind words at the BlogPaws Nose to Nose awards when i was at my lowest ebb. I have nowhere near your challenges but I am with you every step of the way.

    Love you all.

  10. Poppy and I adore you, Darlene and Dexter! Can’t wait to read your first book. How about a novel? You’re both so very creative and talented, I know wonderful things are in store! 😍

  11. Carol you never cease to amaze! I’m so happy for you and look forward to hearing more about your new journey. Blessings to you and your family. So happy to hear Dexter and Darlene are on the uphill path 💜

  12. So I totally lost it while I was reading this. But I know you are going to go on and accomplish amazing things because you are coming from such a place of strength, love, and light. Plus, I believe in karma – and you my friend have helped SO many people (me being one) and dogs and all that good is going to lift you up to wonderful and unimaginable places.

    And if there’s ever anything I can do to help just let me know! As I have now said 10 million times, you (and all my Blogpaws friends) helped me rise from a really dark place in my life to start again and I would love to give back some of what was given to me!

  13. So sorry to hear what you and Dar have been through! I am glad she got a clean bill of health and hope you all have continued health!!! Not going to wish you luck on the business ‘coz you GOT THIS! 😜 thanks for sharing all this…now go kick butt!

  14. Congratulations Carol! I once again stand in awe of your and Darlene’s strength and resilience, and am so excited to read all of the wisdom you are willing to share with others!

  15. OMG. I can’t believe Darlene was sick when Dexter was sick last fall.. Wow. I’m glad you’re optimistic. When companies let passionate people go, that’s a big red flag. I’m still processing but all does not sit well in my gut.

  16. You and Dar are awesome, Carol! Sending healing prayers and vibes to Dar. and Dexter. And I’m so excited about your new ventures.. as with everything.. you and Dar will be awesome! Bless you all..

  17. Wow, you’ve been through a lot – I’m so glad Dar and Dex are both okay! I know whatever you set your mind to you’ll be a rockstar at! All the best in your new endeavors!

  18. Congratulations Carol! You re so talented and creative and you have a heaping portion of a very special ingredient needed for success: you care!!! I’m glad I get to watch your journey and so glad Dar is doing so well, too! All this, from a cat person, too!

  19. Carol I am so happy and so excite for you. I am looking forward to see where this new adventure will bring you, Dar & Dexter!! Love you girl, you got this!!

  20. You’re the consummate dog blogger – as I told you I always thought BlogPaws was YOUR company!
    You’ll out-blog the competition and I’m sure your next adventures will be big successes.
    I’m so sorry for the sadness you and your family have gone through – you kept your secrets well -so glad the light of good health and happiness is shining again. Big hugs and wags and much good luck 🍀🐶

  21. You and Dar are amazing smart brave and passionate – you will rock your new business I have no doubt. I look forward to watching and supporting and staying in touch. Thank you for all the help and inspiration over the last 3 or 4 years!! Pug hugs and all the best Susie

  22. What an extraordinary post Carol! I went from being terrified in the first half to being inspired and in awe of you by the end of it. I am so happy that Dar’s health issue was discovered so early and that you were able to attack it. I will add her to my prayers and pray for continued clean bills of health. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and I will never forget that fear of possibly losing her – I could NOT accept or bear it. She’s been clear for over 20 years now and I wish the same for Dar! You have more potential in your pinky finger than most people have in their entire beings. I have no doubt that you will soar to incredible heights – and I want to be there to not just witness it but be a part of it so let’s stay connected! I respect you, admire you, make feeble attempts to emulate you, and most of all I adore you Carol!! I know the best is yet to come for you.

  23. You have all been through so much but have pushed through, persevered and are showing all of us what it takes to be a true warrior! Anything you all need, please don’t hesitate to ask. Much love, hugs, and prayers!

  24. Sending big hugs to you and Dar. Health issues just suck. Plain and simple. Dar sounds like me, the strong and suffer in silence one and you sound like my daughter, “I want to talk about it.” You two are perfect for each other =)
    I can’t wait to see what you do next and I’m happy to come along for the ride. If I can help you in any way, please ask.

    Hugs, Kimberly

    P.S. Cats and books got me through my childhood.

  25. wow, i knew about Dexter but did not know about your wife. you were so lucky that both came out of those diseases okay. i wish i had been so lucky with my oldest dog with her cancer last year. it was a rough year for me, my finances and my other 2 4 legged girls. she fought so hard and had such a strong will to live but she died in my arms while i was hand feeding her. i never got to go to Blogpaws. i wanted to go so much to the one in SC. but my oldest was so sick. i just could not leave her. i hope this new path does not mean the end of your newsletter. i love it. i have learned so much. i love your coverage of the dog shows. i wish you the best in your new adventure. i have been a very long time reader of your newsletter and look forward to it. i have kept most of them. best of luck to you, Darlene and Dexter. i think you need to change your name to begin with a D, so you can be called The 3 D’s!

  26. It’s gonna be great! I look forward to seeing what you do, and being a part of it too. Proud of you and Dar for being aggressive against cancer. You go!!! ❤️❤️❤️

  27. You continue to inspire me with all you’ve been through…..still you persist! 🙂 Hoping this year holds only good things for the duration. You and your family deserve it! Keep on keepin’ on, you’ve got an army cheering for you!

  28. Can’t wait to see what you are going to do ! You are an amazing woman, and I am glad to have met you online (I wish we could meet offline one day). We cross our paws and fingers here and hope the whole family has clean health bills in the future. I am looking forward to following your next adventures ! Purrs from the kitties, and hugs, Claire

  29. Girls (you and Dar) on fire! I love your positive attitude and drive (always have), and I know it (plus your talent) will take you to exciting new heights. Always in the light! (Next time you see Alison on Zoom, tell her to get it out and light it for you. Best BlogPaws take-away EVER, literally and figuratively!) ♥

  30. Leaving a quick comment here because I am going to PM YOU NOW………….I LOVE YOUR PLAN, LOVE IT!!! You GOOOOOOOOOOOOO GIRL!! You are going to be an even bigger success than you are now…you can do ANYTHING!!!!!!!!! Everything happens (career-wise) just the way it is supposed to……..I know how you devoted your life to BlogPaws EVERY SINGLE YEAR you were there WILL BE REWARDED!! BlogPaws isn’t BlogPaws without you! xoxo

  31. Carol, I was 53 in 2008 when I lost my last job, I’ve been through way more mergers, etc. than you so I understand so much of where you are at. But, not long after that I got a dog, started a blog and found you and BlogPaws. I would not be here if it was not for you, you gave me the confidence that I could start over again doing something I loved with animals and writing. Then, when I had to decide between keeping Taffy or giving her up I didn’t worry if I had to make the hard decision because I knew I had you to turn to for help. I will always be grateful to you. Your passion will make your next journey so exciting. We will have all fingers and paws crossed for Dar, I’m sure you learned that women are more prone to lung cancer even without a smoking background so there should be no guilt there. Not to mention how early it was caught. Hang in there! Sandra and Dolly, Taffy sends Dexter big smooches.

  32. What an awesome post, Carol. Although I have kept a presence on social media, I have been away from pet blogging for a couple of years. I had just decided to start coming back so the news from the conference was pretty disheartening. I was afraid of losing the community but I now know that will never happen. Thanks for being you and helping us carry on. Wishing the best for you and your family.

  33. Wow Carol! You’ve been through so much in the past several months yet have such a positive gracious spirit. I was so happy to learn Dexter and your wife are in remission and doing well. I wish you and your family many more blessings and good health. And and extra ‘Thank you’ for introducing me to the BlogPaws community. Being a part of the social community really provided a great support system for me when in the midst of grieving my cat Dusty that passed away. Keep chasing your dreams and touching hearts. I wish you the best of success in your future endeavours.

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