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Case Studies Home > Renal Lymphoma > Ellie Mae
Sex / Breed: female American Shorthair
Type Of Cancer: Renal Lymphoma
Other Health Problems: none (FIV negative)

Ellie Mae's Story
by Matt

Ellie Mae was a beautiful calico American Shorthair. She was born in 2001 and we adopted her from a pet shelter at age 2. She was very playful, and loved to sit on everyone’s laps for hours on end. She was also very talkative and would carry on full conversations with us. During the 11 years we got to spend with her, she was our only cat and our best friend. We lost her to renal lymphoma on March 26, 2014, and we miss her terribly every day.

Ellie had no health problems until age 12.5. In Sept. 2013, Ellie began eating less, and also started having problems with urinating (frequently urinating small amounts, and straining to urinate). A urine culture indicated that Ellie had an bacterial infection, which we cleared up by giving oral antibiotics (Orbax) every day for 2 weeks. An X-ray revealed that Ellie had extreme enlargement of both kidneys, and following an ultrasound and a kidney biopsy, a diagnosis of Renal Lymphoma was made in Oct. 2013.

Even though both her kidneys were enlarged, the kidney function was still in the normal range, as measured by blood levels of creatinine and BUN. Our vet told us that although the lymphoma could not be cured, chemotherapy treatments would buy us some extra time with Ellie, so we felt it was worth trying. Ellie was immediately started on the standard University of Wisconsin Feline Lymphoma Protocol, consisting of Prednisolone, Vincristine, Cyclophosphamide, and Doxorubicin. This protocol was supposed to take around 6 months to complete. Ellie tolerated the chemo drugs very well, although she would continue to have problems with her appetite and also developed mild diarrhea intermittently throughout the chemotherapy protocols. Appetite stimulants (mirtazapine or cyproheptadine) and probiotics for diarrhea (FortiFlora) were only modestly helpful with these problems. Ellie also received Cerenia for a few days after getting her chemo treatments to help with any nausea. Within 3 weeks of beginning the chemo treatments, Ellie’s kidneys had returned to normal size and appearance by ultrasound.

In early Feb. 2014, only 3.5 months into the initial chemo protocol, an ultrasound showed that the kidneys were beginning to enlarge again and take on abnormal shapes, indicating that the chemo drugs were no longer working. This was terrible news for us, since we had hoped for a much longer period of remission before the cancer would return.

We started Ellie on a ‘rescue’ chemo drug Lomustine, but this was ineffective. Next we tried Mitoxantrone, but this was also ineffective. In early March 2014, we tried L-asparaginase (Elspar), and this rescue drug worked great! Ellie was back to normal, eating and feeling good. After a week, she was still feeling great, except her creatinine levels were starting to rise, indicating that kidney function was decreasing. We began to give her daily subcutaneous fluids at this point to help her kidneys flush out the toxins from her system. We tried one last rescue drug, Mustargen, which proved ineffective, and Ellie started to slip back downhill. After another week, her creatinine levels were very high; her kidneys were shutting down now. We tried L-asparaginase once more, but surprisingly this time, there was no effect. Ellie started to have trouble walking, and soon she could barely stand. At this point, we had to make the painful decision to let Ellie go. We made our final trip to the vet, and she was put to sleep.

The entire ordeal was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Ellie had gone from a healthy cat to being extremely sick in only 6 months, and watching her decline was so painful to us. We did everything we could, but it still wasn't enough. If we hadn't done the chemo treatments, Ellie probably would only have been with us for a few weeks, so I am very grateful that we got to have several months with her before we had to say good-bye. We spent so much quality time together during those last few months that it made all the chemo treatments worthwhile. For a lot of cats with lymphoma, I believe the chemo can give many more months or even years of remission time. We were just unfortunate that Ellie’s cancer was so aggressive.

Ellie Mae was a beautiful little soul, and we are so happy to have known her!

  ADDRESS - California, USA  
Added 04/26/2014
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Ellie Mae
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