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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 watching her birds, that Mommy feeds!


Holly walking/hopping very well!

Holly walking/hopping very well!


13 Responses to “SUCCESS and THANKS! Holly is a TRUE TRIPAWD KITTY!”

  1. Ohhh bravo! Applawse!

    You guys this is wonderful, your update put a big smile on my face and it’s just awesome to see how great things have turned out for all of you.

    Holly the Heroine is appropriate for sure. Aren’t animals just amazing gifts to humans? Even when things get bad and scary, they face the situation with more courage than any human can gather. Kudos to you for being able to stop and listen to what animals, and Holly, have to say. Your life will be a thousand times better because of it.

    Give her a nice long smooch from us, we’re so hoppy for all of you. Thank you for the great update.

  2. Great job Holly! Keep hoping along…it gets easier every day. What a brave girl.

    • Yes, Kimberly, she is my role model. We have become much closer throughout this journey. She is my Brave Baby.

  3. Congratulations, mi’lady! We knew you could do it! 😛

    I’m glad that things have calmed down, and now Holly (and you) have to opportunity to experience your new normal. See? I told you – kitties don’t linger on things. They just DO it. Man, oh man, we can all learn so much from them!

    I’m sorry that you’re still struggling with seeing Holly with three legs, but don’t worry, the more normal things she does, the more normal you’ll feel too. Oh, and the hair growing back helps immensely. 🙂

    And I am so glad that you, too, have this new-found reminder that time spend with our furbabies is ever so important. I had the same feeling – this immense understanding that I should have spent more time with Fang and thanked my lucky stars for having him to cuddle with every day! Luckily, we both have a long time more to experience that. 🙂

    We’re thinking of you! Please keep us updated on Holly’s progress! I want to know every single thing she jumps up onto! Haha!

    – Chantal and Fang

  4. *to = the

    * spend = spent

    Man – I’m having some typing issues today.

    • Hi Chantal and Fang, my new friends. Ha ha, on the typing issues, I am the queen of typos, LOL! Yes, I am anxiously awaiting a full coat to cover the scar. It is growing, slowly by surely and I know that will make the difference. Today, she was able to jump up on the chair and then the table, we used to feed them on our kitchen table because I have back problems. Now, the kittys are being fed on the floor, which I know makes a lot of my human friends happier, LOL! She gets up to my high bed, but it is hard for her. I rub her remaining leg a lot, since I am sure it is sore, with all the extra weight that it bears. She is such a Sweetie! She has always been my little shy girl, so she won’t get the attention that most tripawds enjoy, so we are trying to give her the extra attention she deserves. How is Fang doing at his new digs, these days?

      • Hurray for being able to get up onto the table! Psh, I support kitties eating on the table – or wherever mom wants to feed them! And you are the sweetest for giving her massages – I’m sure she absolutely loves them! Lotsa work going on in that leg!

        Oh Fang, Fang, Fang. Well, as you know, he is staying at his grandparents. My mother decided to send me a cute video of him jumping in the rocks near their new pool, and so I hurried to watch it, because I miss my baby boy, and do you know what I saw?! In the less than three months that I’ve been gone, Fang is fat!!!!! Ahhhhhhh! I have to laugh because I always told mom if I wasn’t on her case about it, she would get the kitties fat – and it turned out to be true! Oh man, he is not going to be happy when mommy comes home, because Grandma is spoiling the heck out of him. *shakes head*

        But, to her credit, Fang is extremely happy hamming around and being a chubby dope. 😀

  5. What a wonderful testament to Holly the heroine!

    Hugs to everyone,

    Linda and Tucker

    • Hi Linda and Tucker. Thanks and Holly deserves all the cudos for handling this with such grace. I am the lucky lady to have her and Hugs back to both of you!


    And applause to mom and dad for being such advocate for their animal family!

    No, no life can be complete without the privilege of kowing an animal’s love and wisdom. Such a gift!

    Holly looks BEAUTIFUL in her photos She’s such a pretty girl! I love the one of her looking out the window. A true sign of everything being back to normal.

    Yeah, the fur grows back slowly but surely. I think the shaved area subconsciously draws attention to the site. When the fur grows bavk you will rarely even notice it.

    You have a great insight into this whole journey and the magnitude of life lessons made available to us. Again, such a gift!

    Glad Al is on the road to recovery too. I kow it’s been a rough year but things are looking up now! And a special kitty treat for Kobe tonight too! And Kyle, yo’re a “good boy”! Ice cream for you!

    Hugs to all…and a big hug for you too mom!!

    Sally and Happy Hannah

  7. And a P.S. Tell Al I wa absolutely against amputation too…..until the limp/pain in her leg got worse sd I was having to up her pain meds. I would not jave her here with me today had I not made the decision she would hve made for herself! “Heck yeah…take that leg off…I’ll do fine…I’ve got a lot of living to do and loving and spoiling to get!!”

    She and I jist celdbrted her eleven month ampuversary and moving forward (knockng n wood)! BEST DECISION EVER!!

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