Update - 5.22.2013 - In January 2013, she had another recurrence of the lymphoma -- disseminated this time, with a GI tumor. The disease was so broad-ranging and she was so elderly (18 years old) and tiny by then (5 pounds) that our vet didn't recommend any more chemo. So, we treated her with corticosteroids to give her as much time as possible. After 6 weeks, she got an intestinal blockage and we had to put our darling to sleep.
It's amazing that Chicky survived for a full 5 years after her first lymphoma diagnosis, and she enjoyed every minute! She also tolerated the chemotherapy very well (as cats often do), so we do recommend others try it.
We miss Chicky terribly -- she was the queen of the house! But with the help of chemo, she managed to live to be 18 years old (5 years with lymphoma) -- what an amazing run for our sweetheart!
Chicky is 15 years old now, and she's a wonderful kitty with a very outgoing personality. She rules the house (4 other cats and a dog), and she loves to romp and play. She's such an amazing kitty! Such a spunky and sassy little thing, and always busy with something. She has many fans! And we're just crazy about her! Chemo led to amazing 2-1/2 year remission; now it's back.
Outcome: Updated October 20, 2010 - Chicky started chemotherapy again on July 27, 2010, since her lymphoma was back out of remission. Fortunately, we caught it early this time. Because it's been a while (2 years) since she last had chemo and because she responded so well to it the first time, our vet is using the same chemo regimen again. As of October, Chicky has completed 2 cycles -- and she's half through the third. And the vet is very pleased -- she says she's in complete remission again! A huge relief!
Also, Chicky's been tolerating the chemo very well again. She's acting like herself, eating and napping and playing with the other cats. The only difficulty has been anemia that comes and goes. So our vet added carafate (to heal any gastric ulcers that could be bleeding) and cut her prednisone dose down to once instead of twice a day (to keep things easy on her tummy). We give her 1/4 carafate pill in butter in the morning, and we crush the 1/4 carafate and prednisone pills together and dissolve them in tuna juice before squirting them into her mouth at night. She's not very happy about getting her pills either way, but we get them in her. (She scoffs at Pill Pockets, but I recommend those for some.)
During the day (while we're at work), we put her in the bedroom with 3 plates of food (2 types of wet and a plate of dry kibble) so she can eat in peace without the other kitties gobbling everything up. This keeps her eating during the day while we're away. Then when we get home, we feed her constantly -- offering small plates of food every hour or so from various open cans (the more variety the better, we've found). We also feed her during the night, when she seems to have a good appetite. Fortunately, her appetite and her weight have both stayed good.
We feel very, very lucky that Chicky's been doing so well. Chemotherapy has been a lifesaver (literally) for her, and I recommend it to other kitties with lymphoma. We were so afraid to start her on it 2 years ago, but our vet said we could always stop if it didn't agree with her -- but lo and behold, it not only agreed with her, but put her in remission! And now it's doing it again! We're just enjoying each day with her so much.
Outcome: She was initially diagnosed in Feb 2008 with mediastinal lymphoma, and she responded very well to chemo. She went into remission -- and stayed there for 2-1/2 years! So lucky! We just took her to the vet this weekend for lethargy/low appetite/fever, and sure enough the lymphoma's back. We're waiting for blood work and for our vet to return so we can probably restart her on chemo this week. Keeping fingers crossed....
[ click photos to enlarge ]