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. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ahhhhh....edits. got it. :-) youre awesome! THANKS!!