I am experiencing the suffering of sickness old age, and death all around me. When a dog gets cancer, a series of processes begin to occur that are a natural part of the death process. The tumor is a fascinating piece of interdependent process- showing how at the most fundamental level, we are a process, and there can be deleterious process that occur in the biological container that are considered “diseases” but according to my experience it seems that these are more accurately referred to as “imbalances”.
With Cancer, once the tumor starts to spread, the process and harmony is already far off balance. The chemical and biological forces that brought it on, can be traced back to random mutations in the DNA – a purely random statistical error in the chemical formation of DNA. This initial random error can then be compounded due to it being inherent in the information copying properties of DNA. This can be compounded by environmental and habitual consumption of highly processed and chemically treated foods. These complex chemical preservatives and pesticide residues and any other chemical traces in the food can cause these DNA mutations that cause “runaway” conditions like Cancer. These factors are all very complex and interpenetrating, and so it’s hard to elucidate a clear cause and effect for the disease itself, but once it is underway, there is an imbalance in the homeostasis of the being.
When a dog gets a tumor they will lick the area and this exposes the skin to moisture and the abrasive force of the dog’s tongue is a survival mechanism- evolved to prevent infection and to soothe the discomfort and confusion associated with the tumor. Once a tumor reaches this level of proliferation, it likely has already metastasized to other parts of the body. The dog will experience pain and confusion and discontent- and the body will start to deteriorate due to the limited motion and pain associated with moving. They will keep licking the area because it’s the only thing that seems to solve the problem of the tumor and its effects. The wound will grow larger and eventually the wound may either get infected, and the dog will develop a fever and sepsis and likely die from that, or there will be some blood clot or some part of the tumor that travels to a vital organ and impedes function. <I am not a medical doctor these are only my layman’s opinions>
The animal will experience whatever pain is caused by the dyregulation and disease of the body- and the disease itself is only a process-it has no feelings and doesn’t care how much it hurts the afflicted animal. The random process will carry out this way without regard for the feelings of the animal, and eventually it will cause some vital error and the animal will die. The loving owners will witness the animal stopping breathing, running a fever, or any other painful death. The humans, acting in compassion, long before this point may have been nudged by others to consider euthanizing the animal, and they are in a tough position because of the love and attachment they have for the dog and because they don’t want the dog to die. But they also don’t want it to suffer. They make a choice, and they go take the animal to a veterinary clinic and lovingly say goodbye to the dog and hold him as the lights go out and pet his face so he’s not alone.
What about Humans?
The same thing happens with humans. People who become older and older are increasingly at risk to injure themselves and then never recover from the injuries and whatever related complications arise from them. Sometimes, our elders will often make decisions that seem to be counter to good sense and survival instincts, perhaps because they are prepared for death, and they just want to ride a bicycle Dammnit. So a 94 year old can somehow walk out of a hardware store with a three-wheeled tricycle with his wife’s permission and then proceed to crash and burn not a half block down the street and bust his ankle.
This is a common theme for elderly downfall- one precipitating crash or event that causes an injury like a set of dominoes that fall, one by one. Problems arise and diseases, have no feelings, they are simply dysregulated processes, and they don’t care about the suffering they cause. Our elders know that old age and death and sickness are simply parts of life, and what may seem like disregard for safety may actually be simply a lack of fear about what or how they may die. They already know they will die soon and they are not afraid of it. They may actually welcome death, our elders may indeed be spiritually advanced and see death as simply a process. They can often have incredible tolerance to discomfort and pain in the stubbornness, ignoring injuries and limiting the information they give to others.
These processes are a normal part of life and death, and they should not be feared or repressed. We want to have our eyes wide open to the reality that we are faced with. We see the first noble truth of Buddhism everywhere, but it is especially salient the older we get. Older folks have experienced more pain and suffering than anyone and may have transcended it altogether or attained spiritual realization at a much younger age, and these people may very well be unaffected by the physical body for the most part. Even without any spiritual focus in their life, a person can develop quite a lot of the seven factors of awakening in their daily lives.