My Cat's name is Silas. He is about 14 years old. I've been his owner for 10 years. He is extremely social, happy, and always purring. The best cat ever! Here is the story of our discovery of lymphoma. Maybe our story can help others...
June 2016, Silas began vomiting regularly (every 2-3 days). I knew something was wrong, but the Vet kept assuring me that it was probably hair-balls. By July and August, the vomiting was daily. First, the vomit was just food... then a pinkish foam... then sometimes blood red. The vomiting occurred right after eating and sometimes hours after eating. I was trying to figure out a pattern, but it seemed totally random. Initially, our Vet felt that he might have a food allergy or IBD. Early on, I began dosing him with Cerenia every 2-3 days... (anti-nausea pill. The pill is much cheaper than the liquid version, get the pill form). Blood-work and Ultrasound in July revealed nothing- they all felt confident that nothing was wrong. So, I left feeling that he just needed a diet change...
Early November 2016: Silas barely ate. We tried so many different types of food... dry, wet, pate, plain cooked chicken, squash, chicken baby food, etc... He usually turned up his nose or what little he did eat, he would vomit. He was dropping weight fast (14lbs to 8.5lbs). Doctors now felt that this must be a case of IBD (I never heard the word Lymphoma at all...). We tried the Pred Steroid a couple times, but it was always followed by intense vomiting. One day, he was so underfed and dehydrated, he collapsed and I rushed him to the Blue Pearl ER clinic. A high white-blood cell count revealed that something bigger was happening. I was sent home with Clavamox (antibiotic). On the Cerenia and Clavamox combo (both affordable drugs), Silas began showing interest in food and eating regularly. Amazingly, the vomiting stopped. I was convinced that this was all a nasty bacterial infection that we could easily cure. I decided to do an endoscopy anyway... $2,000 procedure. I needed the peace of mind.
Early December 2016: The endoscopy was bad news. About 60-70% of his stomach has been taken over by a strange tissue mass (not a tumor, but a thickened stomach lining). The doctors were pretty shocked by this- they assumed it was large cell lymphoma and told me to prepare for his death, there was nothing to do... But, biopsy results revealed small-cell Lymphoma (possibly more aggressive than usual, because of the irregularity in his stomach). I give him a Cerenia (1/4 tablet) each morning around 10am and his Clavamox dose around 12 or 1pm with his lunch. This seems to be keeping him in a happy state. I feed him small doses of food few hours or so (luckily I work from home most days). After achieving some stability (1-2 weeks of no vomiting), I reintroduced Pred, and he's doing great on it! Although the Pred makes him very hyper and very hungry. So hungry that he wakes me up multiple times throughout the night to be fed.
Mid January 2017: Silas is still on once daily Cerenia and once daily Pred. The doctors told me that he would probably only make it until Christmas... But he's still around! This whole process has taught me to not loose hope and to not jump to conclusions (although I sense he doesn't have a ton of time left). I shouldn't have listened to the doctors give me a timeline for his life and death, because it really put me into a state of stress, grief, and depression. We just started Chlorambucil (dosing 3mg every 3 days). I've only done one dose so far. He seems less ravenous (before, he was eating like crazy on the Pred, but none of the nutrients are absorbing into his body). He is down to 6lbs at present. At this point, I'm mentally prepared for his passing and I've come to terms with it. I just want to keep him happy and hopefully the chlorambucil will do some magic and give him a little more time. It's the second day, and I'm not sensing any adverse affects. Regarding this drug, My Vet first quoted me a price of $25 per pill. Outrageous! After doing some reading, I found Roadrunner out of Arizona. My Vet gladly called in the prescription. I'm paying about $50 for a bottle of 40 pills (that's just over $1 per pill!). Not bad!
Early March 2017: January and February have been going pretty well... I've been dosing Silas with Chlorambucil, once every 3 days, and continuing with the Pred (I lowered it from .5 to .35 and now he's not as ravenous) and Cerenica once daily (1/4 tablet). I found that giving the cerenia at night before bed (usually midnight for me) works best. He tends to be nauseous in the early morning hours between 4am-7am. We went a week with no vomit (woo hoo!). The chlorambucil has been amazing- Silas has put back on almost 2 whole lbs! From 6lbs back up to 8lbs, although he still looks extremely skinny to me and his bones are protruding. Today is March 5th. He has not shown much interest in food the last two days and has been hiding under my bed a lot. I'm starting to worry that things are headed south... I'm really glad that I went with the chlorambucil treatment. Overall, it hasn't seemed that there were any bad side affects. I think that the drug is definitely giving him extra time. We also had a litter box problem today. He peed outside of the litter box, which is something he has never done in the 10 years I've had him. He seems a little "off" to me. Hopefully he eats later today, fingers crossed. Overall, he doesn't seem to be in pain. Still happy. We'll see how the week goes.
March 14th: I took Silas in for another blood check- we go in once a month. Unfortunately, Silas is now anemic, meaning he isn't producing enough red blood cells. It's not awful at this point, but not good news. I was hoping he would weigh in at 8lbs, but he is back down to 6.5lbs. I'm sad about it, I was hoping for good results. It seems that the Chlorambucil may not be working as well as it had when we first started it. Plus, the disease is progressing as well. The last few days have also been tough, because Silas is not using his litter box for pooping. Instead, he is using the bathtub (at least easy to clean!). He's still not showing signs of pain. The doctor feels that he is pain free. He is still purring, being affectionate, and showing energy, which is why I haven't put him down yet... With the anemia and weight loss, his days are probably numbered. Emotionally, I'm upset and scared about how his death is going to happen.
April 4th: Sadly, Silas passed away on Saturday March, 25th. His death happened naturally, and was actually a meaningful experience to me. Everything happened very fast. On Friday, he had started hiding from me under the bed. The first big change that I noticed was that his hind legs seemed to be disabled. He was having trouble jumping and walking. He had also developed a cold a few days prior, and was struggling to breath through his congested nose. That evening, I coaxed him out with his favorite snacks and realized that he had peed himself while under my bed. I helped him to the tub, where he peed again, this time in a laying down position. He was barely able to stand... Although, still happy and even purring when I offered him his favorite snacks. At 4am, I needed to go to sleep. I laid him down in the bath-tub to rest and go to the bathroom as needed. I awoke to noises at 6:45am. Silas was next to the bed and had somehow managed to wake me up. That was a long walk for him from the bathroom to my bedside! I laid him next to me... around 8am, he had a seizure (common for dying cats). By 9am, he passed away. I laid with him, petted him, kissed him, and talked to him. I told him it was time and that I too was going to die some day. Overall, the situation wasn't too traumatic. I had decided that I would not be scared to watch his death, I somehow became strong in the moment. I was so relieved that I didn't have to call the at-home euthanasia service. The fact that he died naturally and alone with me was comforting and meaningful to me. It has been one week without him, and I feel an emptiness in my apartment. I miss his sweet little self. He was truly the best.
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