Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!
Holly’s and our family”s journey has been long and hard, but she has finally transitioned to a TRUE TRIPAWD KITTY! To all the future tripawd animals and families, I have to say the journey is not easy, but well worth the effort. On Thursday, we received the news we have been anxiously waiting for: The pathology of her amputated left, rear leg and specifically the lymph nodes showed NO CANCER cells!! This was the absolute BEST news that we could have gotten. Time to proclaim “SUCCESS” and to give a heartfelt THANKS to all the heroes in the Tripawd community and the doctors who helped us navigate the rough waters of this journey.
To recap, our journey began with a routine well kitty check up. The primary vet, Dr, Safford, notices a growth on her left rear hock. She called and asked if they could do a needle biopsy aspiration, which eventually determined that there was mesenchymal cells, which basically means that the cancerous cells attach to the connective tissue. This is rare in cats, and the tumor had grown very quickly – two bad signs. She suggested that we go to a specialty clinic, VCA, and have a tissue biopsy (which meant surgery), which verified that she in fact had myxosarcoma. We had to wait over a month from the biopsy to her surgery, due to Al having full hip replacement mid December. For over a month, I had to deal with Holly’s soft tissue cancer on my own, knowing full well that I had to do the research without Al’s help, he had more than his share to deal with, facing a tough surgery. Luckily, my son Kyle, was around to help me get through the tough times and help with research. Even though this cancer is commonly classified as a “slow growing” cancer”, it has “tendrils” and the cells can break off and attach to other healthy cells, when the tumor is cut into, which was in late November. Time was working against us, so I was concerned about the pathology coming back clean, after any surgery we decided upon. I patiently waited til Al was 4 weeks out from his own surgery and then we had THE TALK. Al, at first, refused any talk of the amputation, so it took a lot of work to convince him that we weren’t doing this “to her” but “for her” as Chantal, so wisely, characterized the difficult decision. Without amputation, we were looking at “probable recurrence”, at the site (behind her left hock), or worse yet, the cancer spreading to her lymph nodes, which would then infiltrate her lungs. I, of course, went to another oncologist, an hour away at VSC, and was lucky enough to have Dr. Gagnon (a compassionate oncologist) for a second opinion, who suggested that I do a lung x-ray to make sure that the cancer had not spread. Luckily, the lung x-ray came back negative, and I would recommend VSC of Buffalo Grove to all pet owners who are dealing with cancer. Lastly, I emailed my hero, Dr. Neil Christensen, of the veterinary radiation oncology department of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who had emailed me many times during my research. Let me say what an invaluable resource he was, along with Dr. Gagnon (Oncologist,VSC of Buffalo Grove, IL), Dr. Safford (Holly’s primary care vet), and Dr. Green (Oncologist) at VCA, where Holly had her surgery through Dr. Abel (the gifted surgeon who performed the delicate amputation so well) . All of these caring professionals, helped tremendously, with the daunting task of making the decision to amputate rather then radiate. With their help we had to decide to do one of three things:
1. Do nothing and hope that this cancer would not come back or spread.
2. Surgically remove the rest of the mass on her left rear hock, and then put her through 20 radiation treatments. All the doctors agreed that the tumor would return within 1-3 years and would be more aggressive at that time, since the location prevented them from obtaining a “clean margin on 3 cm”.
3. Amputation to remove, “with clean margins”, all signs of the slowly invasive tumor. I had to realize that there is a definite difference between “hope” and “cure”. All the doctors considered this option a “cure”.
All of these options are right for some pawrents, but after a lot of research and a lot of tears, amputation and the possibility of a “CURE” was our choice. Holly came to us as a feral cat, 7 years ago. For the first time, since we have had the luxury of Holly’s companionship, we knew WHY she came to us. Holly is part of our family and my human sons would say that our cats are more important than even us, LOL, and for that reason, our decision was given the careful attention it deserved. As I said previously, Al was originally dead set against the thought of amputation. I was never a fan, but being more realistic, I hoped for another option to keep her leg and more importantly, HER LIFE! The radiation option was a possibility, but ALL the doctors reminded me that the chances of the cancer returning after radiation, was fairly high. As a feral cat, Holly was sweet, but not a fan of other humans. To have to take Holly to the vet every weekday for a month for a radiation treatment, and then have her live in a “cone” seemed like TORTURE, for our little girl. We could not put Holly through all this, and then most likely, have to amputate at a later date anyway. Radiation seemed selfish and cruel, just to protect us from seeing her without a leg. After all, cats are not people, and the creator of small animals, gave them survival instincts, and they just move forward and “accept” the new normal of having 3 legs. To be perfectly honest, I am not able to “accept” seeing her this way without feeling sad, but I am guessing that this is the downside of “abstract thinking”. Each day Holly is showing me that she is still and always, HOLLY! Her new challenges are difficult and she faces them bravely, like a hero. Our nickname for Holly, was Holly her highness. Now, my new name for her is, Holly my heroine! Animals are essential to a complete life, and I have been so lucky to have had 4 wonderful cats, and 2 dogs in mine. I have learned so much from sharing my life with these brilliant animals we call our pets. Within their small bodies, lies such courage. Kobe, our other cat, and Holly’s older brother, is dealing with arthritis in such a stoic way as well. He is now, Kobe the courageous. BTW, Kobe is a unique kitty, as he is probably the most friendly and intelligent cat we have ever known. We are sure that he understands many of our words. Both he and Holly have trained us well, and we willingly admit to it, for we gladly pay this price to have them in our lives! Stay strong for your little ones, all you pawrents out there, and have HOPE!
Enjoy these recent photos of my beauty, Holly my Heroine! Hopefully, her hair will grow quickly….
Holly watching her birds, that Mommy feeds!
Holly walking/hopping very well!
13 Comments »
Filed under: Uncategorized