On the Weds before Labor Day (9/03/07) weekend, I noticed that Kalysta was sleeping an enormous amount of time under my bed, which was a place that she never frequented before. When she was awake, it was only for 20-30 minutes at a time, and she ate very little while being awake; I got very worried. Since she was due for her annual vet visit, I went ahead and made an appointment that day, for the Weds following Labor Day. However, I became even more worried when Friday rolled around, and she had not eaten and continued to be lethargic. On Saturday morning, I called her vet and asked if she could get me in that day, since a long weekend was upcoming.
That Saturday (9/01/07), her vet performed a radiogram, did not like what she saw, and recommended that I take Kalysta to a specialty clinic. I went there directly, where she was given an ultrasound and an FNA. I was told by the IM, on duty, that she most likely had cancer, and that hopefully it was lymphoma. The IM reviewed the U/S with me while I was there, and showed me that Kalysta's stomach lining was abnormally thickened. My heart sank. I was in for the longest, most depressing weekend of my life. That weekend, I lived on the web, and I also joined the Yahoo FAF, Cancer and Lymphoma groups.
I received the pathology results call, on 9/05/07, that confirmed Kalysta had large cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. I made an appointment for the following day to visit the staff oncologist. The oncologist presented the diagnosis and prognosis in the most pessimistic manner possible, saying that Kalysta only had weeks with, or without, chemo treatments. When I determinedly agreed to try chemo, she visibly appeared disappointed that I would even venture to give my kitty a fighting chance. (Apparently, she did not have many feline chemo successes.)
Kalysta was put on a modified University of Madison, WI, chemo protocol, which consisted of vincristine, doxorubucin, cyclophosphamide, and daily prednisone. (Later, the dox was replaced with methotrexate, and the cyclophosphamide with chlorambucil.) Her first treatment also included Elspar, a rescue drug, to aggressively hit the mass.
Kalysta was reported "clinically improved" at her second and third weekly treatment, and she was declared in "apparent complete remission" at her fifth treatment. All throughout this time, however, she was still inappetent. I was literally 3 days away from getting an e-tube put in, but she had a nice turnabout the previous weekend; cyproheptadine and mirtazapine had no effect on her appetite.
Updated December 28, 2008 - Kalysta, my special little girl, continues to be in remission. While the oncologist sees no need to continue the treatments, my kitty continues her chemo every 4 weeks. As a matter of info, she also has had no serious side effects, no vomiting, no hair loss, no serious constipation/diarrhea, no inappetence, no lethargy, and at 10 years old, Kalysta is as active as a 3 year old kitty.
Updated September 14, 2009 - Kalysta, celebrates her two year post-diagnosis! She is doing magnificently, and for all intents and purposes she acts as if she has never been sick a day in her lovely existence. We just got back from a recheck with the oncologist. All is well, and the oncologist was just a'beaming with joy.
Currently, Kalysta is not on any medication whatsoever. Regarding the chemo protocol, I elected to stop when she reached the 18 month mark, back in March. The next step would have been to go out to having treatments every 6 weeks, and I felt that was kind of pointless. We will go for the next recheck in 4-6 months.
Updated May 13, 2011 - Kalysta is doing fantastically. After doing 18 months of the Madison-WI protocol, she has now been off chemo for over 2 years. I consider her *cured*!
[ click photos to enlarge ]