Thursday, March 20, 2014

Final Stretch

Tomorrow is Digit’s last radiation treatment. And we all want to know how it has gone.  Here’s Digit.

So far, all of those well wishes, good vibes and purrs are working.
Many friends, old and new, have asked: How is the radiation going? Is it working?

The unfortunate thing with the localized lesion and bonus that I have never been "sick" - is that it’s actually kind of hard to tell.  Wow, that’s definitive.

Mom asked the oncologist today and was told that, basically they will measure the lesion tomorrow on my last  treatment #15. But since the radiation has been making my lip red, swollen and a bit raw it’s going to be difficult to gauge. Of course if there were marked changes, and there isn’t, it would be easier. Over time, the lesion should heal, but that will be after they stop zapping it and it has time to do so.

Like I mentioned, they want to check other places just to make sure the lymphoma hasn’t reared its ugly head somewhere else that we couldn’t detect it before. That would be awful! But that is also the reason why Mom is pushing for chemo. Lymphoma may be somewhere else, but not to any detectable degree.

We have been dealing with this as single site cutaneous small T-cell lymphoma and we are certainly hoping it is, but likely enough if you out there have at least some experience with cancer to know that its a sneaky, evil, deceitful disease, and chemo is the only way to deal with that.

I am sure that doesn’t really answer the question, but there isn’t a mass to shrink or an appetite to gain or anything like that for the doctors to put a finger on

Mom just spoke with the oncologist who said preliminary the slides look reactive - not cancerous. But they would like to send them out for closer examination and, mom being a scientist (has its pluses and minuses) agreed. Those results won’t be back for a week.

I’m looking forward to my last torture ("treatment" they call it - yeah, right) session tomorrow. I overheard mom say they are going to be giving me a good once over in addition to my radiation- ultrasound, chest x-ray, blood work, to make sure there have been no other changes over the last month since I last had all of those things done. So, it will truly be a day of torture.

The oncologist confirmed again today that I am showing a lot of "spunk." They ain’t seen nothing yet.

And my pitch for the auction: ends this weekend. Get onboard with it. Visit

Monday, March 17, 2014

Travel Episode

Traveling with cats is always a challenge. Here Digit explains a little episode that occurred in the car on the way back to Worcester. I've done so much travel I'm use to car rides, boat rides, train travels and now even planes, but I've never seen a peep go to such troubles to transport a kittehn.

Here's Digit.

Back to Worcester and Tufts, but this is the last week of torture...I mean "treatment."
We left the farm at 8 am. We had to make another "pit stop" at our local vet to see if Journey would hold her bladder for a sample this morning. Mom saw her drink before we left so she was hopeful. But what did Journey do?

She was crying like she had to go about halfway there and it’s like a 16 minute drive.  So Mom kept sticking her hand into Journey’s carrier to keep her standing up. After all, Journey’s not a horse so she doesn’t pee standing up, right?  Well Journey did!  History making!  Out the back of the carrier and onto the car door.  Yippee cat pee in the car!  We cats know how you humans can’t stand that smell. 

Bad Journey. (okay, I was laughing)  No sample this week for the vet.  What Journey doesn’t realize is that Mom will not be deterred by such antics.

I was the only good kitty in the car.  Of course I’m getting to be an old pro at this. Whisper and Journey carried on pretty much the whole way. You would think it was them being subjected to torture!

Today is the  eleventh treatment. Making the final turn down the back stretch!
Hope you all have a great week. Don’t forget to check out the auction.  Click Here to see what is available. Remember the proceeds go for my treatment at Tufts.

Hope to have photos of my torture to post tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Week Two

You wouldn't hurt a little kittehn. Would you?

It's  Friday. Get it? Fryday – radiation – hehe. I couldn’t resist. 

I am here at tufts for treatment #10.  The end of week II. 2/3rds of the way there. I’m so excited. Cannot wait to get back to the farm tonight- rest and relaxation, peace and quiet. No carriers. No catheters. No poking. No prodding.

It’s been a good week. As I have mentioned, I have become resigned to the fact that Mom is going to get me here one way or another so I haven’t hindered the procedures. Neither hiding in the box spring nor frozen car doors were any match for Mom. I think she wants this to be over with as much as I do.

Spring is in the air. You can smell the snow melting. The birds are happy and chipmunk sightings are becoming common as is the smell of skunk. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am - my nose is in overdrive as I go between house-car-tufts-car-house. Can’t wait until we can open windows in the house!
Not tuna juice


Mom gave them the camera for pictures today. I said, “You wouldn’t hurt a little innocent kitten like me would you?”
The tech said, “You won’t feel a thing.” She was right

We are now back home at the farm for the weekend Mom got the fire in the wood stove going right away as it was 55 degrees in here. Thank goodness a Snuggle Safe only takes 4 minutes in the microwave! Journey’s got her spot in front of the stove. I’ve got my spot on the couch and Whisper is in Mom’s lap.  Can you guess who's a momma’s kitty?

We arrived to find the driveway plowed in and drifts up to Mom and Dad’s knees. we hiked into the house leaving the car parked in the road and then Dad went to work with the tractor. I guess there was lots of snow, then sleet and rain and more snow. I am so happy to be an indoor kitty!

It’s going to get cozy in here and I will be dreaming of the week after next when I will not have to go back to Worcester or Tufts, hopefully ever again.

Sleep well everybody. Stay warm and snuggle up to your humans. Where would we be without them?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Radiation Begins

zonked out for radiation

 I’ll tell you how that first week went.  Pictures say a thousand words.  I got one. Yuck. 

 I don’t know if this was before being zapped or after. As you can see, I was sleeping. We have made it to the 1/3rd mark - WOOHOOOOOO!! I had enough poking, prodding, stabbing, zapping for one week. How I looked forward to two days off.

But I  had to endure the dreaded carrier again for 4 hours to make it back to the farm in New York. I don’t see why after having been crammed in there 10 times already this week (2x/day) I had to go through the ordeal again? Whisper and Journey threw a fit and they hadn’t been captured since Monday. Oh how I felt sorry for them - NOT. Suck it up.
under the machine

I was back on the back at the farm for the weekend.  Thank goodness. Room to roam (inside only of course).
I think I did great this week. All things considered. Monday was understandably rough. I didn’t eat after I got home after my first treatment. It was a long day and I was pretty fried (no pun intended). Tuesday was better, but still wasn’t feeling my usual self. Thankfully by Wednesday I had regained my appetite and I have been wicked spoiled with canned food. I try and hold out for that, but sometimes I have to break down and chew the hard stuff. Mom’s been adding, flortiflora, fish oil, nupro nuggets and l-lysine to my food - sometimes I don’t mind. I’m kinda picky.

On Thursday I tried to avoid the whole thing. Mom got out of bed and I never budged. She went about her busy coming in and out of the room.  She was all the way down the hall in the livingroom when she said to Whisper, “Okay, I’ve got to go get stink bug, her pet name for me.”  I slipped off the bed with a thump and began to slink under the bed. Rats. She reached under the bed and pulled me out. I hugged her but didn’t make a peep and with great reluctance went into the carrier. I never said a word the rest of the way. By Friday I had to be a chow hound. This is the routine for the next two weeks. I might as well eat.

One third of the way through.

Mom and Dad are a bit frazzled. The whole moving the household (them, me, Whisper and Journey) back and forth. Monday through Friday to Worcester. Journey and Whisper have not been too happy with the whole situation. I’m trying to go easy on them. I’ve only hissed at Whisper three times this whole week.

Mom’s been trying to get the auction items photographed and posted and finished before we head back to Worcester as we are without internet there. Dad’s been trying to get four days worth of work done around the farm in two days. He likes to play on his tractor, but kept getting it stuck in the deep wet snow. I could hear him grumbling out back all the way inside... Dad my ears!

Now almost half way through.

One minute I'm okay
Twenty minutes later...

What a difference 20 minutes makes.

As you can see, I was pretty good even after they put the catheter in. I’m kinda getting use to these folks, but I’m not sure I would ever consider them "friends."

Today was treatment #7. Half of 15 is 7.5. I am so close to being half way done with this ordeal. 

I must admit to being a bit of a stink bug this morning. I thought I would lay low and hide up inside of the box spring in the spare bedroom. I was quiet. Mom started looking for me. I didn’t say boo. Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time I hid there so it didn’t take Mom long to find me. Whisper was hiding with me so I was hoping maybe Mom would take Whisper instead. No such luck. Mom had to bring out the big guns - the vacuum cleaner! Whisper was gone in a flash, but I remained still and quiet. Maybe she would go away.  Can you believe Mom actually got a pair of scissors and cut me out? I think she ruined our hiding place. Something tells me she’s going to finish the job when we get home and take the whole netting off.  Mom is taking desperate measures. 

Hope you are having a great week. Thanks for all the love and support. Thanks for hangin' with me. I’m amazed by the response on my Facebook page, Digit.  A great shout out to Hemi the CH Kitty and his mom for doing the lion’s share of work on my page.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Back to Worcester

Digit continues her journey to beat lymphoma...

Now that I have caught up on my extra hour of sleep (funny how that works with us kitties), I continue…

Off to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University we went.
I  hadn’t been in Worcester since October and I thought I had seen the last of it. I’m really liking the farm life and there was no looking back as far as I was concerned. Hw little did I  know!

We left on a Wednesday and spent the night in the old house. Journey was already there as she had gone out with dad Tuesday morning. We left whisper at the farm. Mom figured we were only going to be gone 36 hours so she gave whisper extra food (she was in heaven) and water and left her in charge of the place.

On Thursday I had to fast. That’s getting old.  What is it with this withholding of food?  We arrived at Tufts and checked in and waited for Meagan, a fourth year student, to escort us into an exam room where she asked Mom why we were there. Personally,  I wasn’t sure yet why I had to be there. They were talking about me like I wasn’t there.  They never asked me a thing. But then I  got dragged out of my carrier, poked, prodded, my temperature taken and my face examined. Meagan left and we were peacefully alone for a while. then Dr. Kelly O'Neill came in, asked a few more questions, gave me a once over and then discussed the options.

Surgery: while maybe a fabulous way to rid me of the lymphoma was not a viable option because of the location of my lesion. As noted previously, surgery would remove about a 1 inch square from my face - a sizable chunk for a wee one like me. While I am not particularly vain, I do think I look better with my whole face.
Chemo: while possibly curative, would treat the whole body and this thing seems to be isolated to my lip. We were told lymphomas respond well to chemo.
Radiation: recommended because of the location and size of the lesion and kind of lymphoma (believed to be single site small t-cell - not systemic). Very likely to be curative.
And Do nothing: the lesion would become larger, erosive, potentially infected and it would eventually become painful. the visual wasn’t pretty.
we were told the cost of the radiation 15-16 doses once a day, Monday through Friday for three weeks would be $5000.

Then the doctor left and were left alone to "discuss it." Except no asked me. Mom had her mind made up and Dad said nothing. It was a lively discussion.  What was behind door number two, we will never know.

Dr. O'Neill came back with Dr Mc'Neil, the radiation oncologist. Dr. Mc'Neil explained more about the procedure and asked if we had any more questions and what our decision was. My vote was for calling it a day, getting something to eat and taking a nap on the way back home to the farm, but no one seemed interested in my opinion. Instead, they signed me up for radiation and decided we were going to be moving back to Worcester for the next three weeks.

the *Neil Doctors took me away for a tour around the place, some more poking, prodding, sticking a needle in my lymph node again, a quick consult with the other radiation oncologist and then brought me back to Mom and Dad.

The one major concern was my "mental state." For some reason Mom has it in her head that I don’t adjust well or tolerate being manhandled. It was decided that if I didn’t tolerate the treatments (started withdrawing, hiding from mom and dad, beating up on whisper) we would put an end to them and switch to chemo.  The chemo would be oral and I am like a raving insane maniacal lunatic banshee cray-cray cat when anyone tries to pill me. Do you need another picture?  I had to promise myself I would be a "good little girl" for the duration of the radiation treatments. I am going to miss beating up Whisper.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

How it Began

Well, The Dij, as Digit is affectionately sometimes called, has made it through the first week of radiation treatment.  That little cat has proven tough, handling not only all the vet needles, prodding and other indignities, but being crammed into a pet taxi twice a day and then enduring a four hour car ride back to the farm with her two sisters who by the sound of things thought they were being tortured.

Digit has a little community pulling for her now that she has her own facebook account and the website administration and up coming auction being managed by Hemi the CH Kitty’s mom at Facebook,

Here’s Digit in her own words.

I will share my story…

Basically, I started out with periodic weepy eye/runny nose sometime in November after that glorious wood stove got running in earnest. I love the thing. It’s awesome and sometimes I can’t get close enough. Anyway, no worries. The weepy eye/runny nose came, went, came, went, off, on, no rhyme or reason.

As my sister, Journey, (a cardiac patient) was to have her yearly echo, Mom made an appointment for all of us (thanks Journey!) to see our new vet here in New York (we moved last year). Blood work for Journey along with physicals and shots for the rest of us. About a week before the appointment, Mom noticed I had a little lesion on my right upper lip. No biggie. During my check up the vet (Dr Mary Mernard Borador Animal Hospital, PC) mentioned I had a bit of tarter build up on that side and maybe I was rubbing my face. I have to admit I am a bit of a clean freak. Anyway, pre-surgery blood work revealed high calcium, high WBC. Specifically, lymphocytes, monocytes and eosinophils, not neutrophils. (did you just fall asleep?) Well, Mom has had experience with cancer with an older brother, Dino (named after Dino Ciccarelli), who I never met, may he rest in peace. Red flags went up everywhere, and Mom said I didn’t need to have my teeth cleaned if I had cancer. So, the investigation began.

The Investigation...
After the first screwy blood work, mom wanted to biopsy my lip, or should I say she wanted Dr Mary to do it. I was suppose to have it done on a Wednesday, but we had a snowstorm and Mom couldn’t get the truck started. I had to wait until that Friday and go through the fasting again. Along with the biopsy, I had some x-rays of my head (yep, my brain cell is there despite what Mom says), and a nasal lavage to send for cytology. No boney changes in my head - yay and cytology of mucus came back negative. The biopsy, however, showed what we were dealing with- small cell lymphoma. So mom hit the Internet to see what had changed in the nine years since Dino was diagnosed. Then as now, the research that’s out there about us kitties is woefully and (in Mom’ss opinion) inexcusably insufficient.

As she researched, she posted on her Facebook page and a friend of hers, Chenoa - an "old" vet friend, came to our rescue!  Chenoa wondered if I might have a rare form of single site cutaneous t-cell lymphoma that was not systemic. If so, she said Mom would have to forget everything she had learned about lymphoma. She advised checking some more places for icky cells . If her suspicions were correct she thought surgery, radiation, and chemo would give the best results...and not to worry.

To try and determine definitively what we were dealing with, Mom took me to Upstate Veterinary specialties for an ultrasound to check for any bad stuff in my abdomen. They also did some needle biopsies of my lymph nodes. Did I mention I had started to have fun at this point?

The test results: 

Ultrasound - "boring" to quote Dr Bay. Never been so happy to be boring.
Needle biopsy - negative - woohoo!
Dr Bay consulted with a surgeon and was told he basically would  have to take half my face off in order to try and get clear margins. Then I would still need chemo and/or radiation.

The nearest radiation centers are in Newburg, NY  (2+ hours away), Tufts (3.5 hours away) or Cornell (4+ hours away).  I was hopeful.  Maybe I would be excused by virtue of having moved to the middle of no where last year. No such luck. If radiation was the way to go, I overheard Mom telling Dad, we might be moving back to Worcester in order for me to go to Tufts. 

snoozing in Worcester, MA


Mom wanted more info and that made me the guinea pig. She asked for immunohistochemistry staining of lesion cells and wanted flow cytometry done on my blood. She pretends to be some kind of scientist and I am some kind of lab rat!  With the investigation over we were almost certain I had a single site, small t-cell lymphoma. No cancer cells have been detected in blood, lymph nodes, or nasal passages. My internal organs all look fine.  Mom scheduled an oncology consult at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Mom has been encouraged through all this. She sometimes calls it delusional optimism because I was never sick. I was eating like I was suppose to. Drinking as I was suppose to. Acting like I was suppose to. Playing like i was suppose to. No one would have ever suspected a thing. I don’t know how long she would have let me have this silly lesion without hauling me off to the vet.  Timing was everything, I guess. Remember, this all came about because Journey had to have her blood work before her cardio appointment.

The Decision...
We moved back to Worcester for March and I get 15 radiation session treatment at Tufts.

I’ll tell you how that first week went next. 

Diablo: hope that didn't get too technical for you. I told you the Little Sister, Digit's mom,  was a scientist. It rubbed off on Digit. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Serious Stuff

Back home after Sochi. Raised hell. Broke a lot of house rules. Basically, acted like a rock star.

Digit at Thanksgiving table with Little Sister's pottery
Now, I have to be serious. Serious matters ahead.  You’ll probably hate me when it is over, but I feel I owe this plug for my cousin, Digit. She’s The Little Sister’s cat who lives on a farm in Upstate New York, not too far away from where I live with the Old Man. I mentioned on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that she’s got lymphoma. Because she lives with a couple big-hearted peeps she will get loving and compassionate care and treatment as long as no quality of life issues interfered.

Let me give you a little background about my cousin. You know this is going somewhere.  Digit was adopted along with her sister Whisper about the same time Goddess took off to join the Peace Corps. So that makes them about ten years old. Kittens compared to me. At the time the family lived in Worcester. That’s in Massachusetts. Is there any other Worcesters in the world? And you better be pronouncing that like a native. (Wha’str)

At the time these peeps, The Little Sister and the Bro-InLaw, both worked in genetic engineering. When it comes to bugs and genes they know their fields and if they don’t know it, they know how to research it. But the Goddess’ little sister had a dream to live on a huge farm and after years of saving and toil last year she made it happen. So she quit her lab rat job and moved to the farm where she bakes bread and makes home made butter… from real cows, Oh My Cow! The farm has the perfect place to set up a pottery studio a love The Little Sister has had for years. And she is pretty darn good at it too.  But quitting a job and moving to a farm to pursue a passion can only be done step by step so the studio is not yet set up.

Digit's oral lesions. Gross
Now Digit is sick. I can get all technical on you because like I said the two peeps The Little Sister and The Bro-inLaw, both are scientist. But when they talk this stuff, my eyes roll and I tend to fall asleep.  However it is serious. She's got lymphoma, but test showed there is no cancer in  lymph nodes. So that was a yippie, give me TUNA moment. So the peeps took Digit to
for treatment options.  Lymphoma responds well to both radiation and chemo. The short of it is that Digit will receive 15-16 doses of radiation starting tomorrow, Monday March 3. Chemo may or may not be added towards the end of the regime. Fortunately, she is otherwise healthy so she is expected to respond well, outside of maybe stressing with all the car rides. I know I failed to mention Digit is a mental case of a cat…a bit spazzy.

But this means The Little Sister needs to move back to the house in Worcester during treatment, to avoid carting Digit across The Bay State.  It is perfect timing.  She’ll be done with treatment before the end of March. Spring planting and other farm chores will be ready and waiting when the family returns.

Why the story? ‘Cause The Little Sister has pottery to sell and proceeds will help pay the vet bills.  I don’t know why you got to pay these people for all that poking and prodding, but that is something humans expect.

So even though The Little Sister cuts my claws when Goddess is away and I hate that intrusion I am plugging pottery for my cousin.

The Little Sister’s  website is Luna House. Check it out. There is some awesome looking stuff there.

I’ll Tweet some updates and post a few more blogs on Digit to help out because The Little Sister is a great artist, but not so much a business person.  You won’t find prices on her website! Sigh, I know.  Maybe we can make something happen with that.

But, please take a look. I’m sure you’ll love her work. I do. It falls off the shelf when shoved and makes a thunderous crash when it hits the floor. I’m just saying. I’m a cat.