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Cat: Darcy (Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy)
male, Domestic Shorthair Tuxedo
Type of Lymphoma:
GI - Small Cell (diffuse) Lymphocytic
Darcy's Case Study
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Feline Herpes Virus
Story: Darcy was diagnosed at age 8 in September 2005 via exploratory surgery. His only symptom had been occasional projectile vomiting: copious and quite malodorous. This had been going on for months. At first it was every several weeks, then every month, then every couple of weeks, which is when I sought help. Knowing what I know now, I would have run to the vet's after the first episode: malodorous projectile vomiting is not normal; it is not a hairball even if it contains some fur.
IBD was suspected; so was chronic constipation. Dietary changes and laxatives were tried: the vomiting continued. After a particularly bad episode that left Darcy lethargic and nauseous, our vet suspected an obstruction and suggested exploratory surgery. We proceeded immediately. During surgery she found a small membrane attaching two loops of intestines. She removed it. Since intestines move, it made sense that the membrane would sometimes cause an obstruction. I was elated. The next day I brought my sore, stapled but purring Darcy home to recover.
Two days later, on my birthday, our vet called with the pathology results and spoke the words we all so dread: lymphoma. We consulted with an oncologist a few days later. We settled on the Leukeran/Prednisone protocol for several reasons, including my very limited financial situation and my desire for the least invasive treatment. I was warned that Darcy's Herpes would most likely flare up and sent home with a prescription and a six-month prognosis.
That was 17 months ago. Darcy is well. He's had issues with food - he hated his prescribed Hill's i/D canned - but I insisted until recently. Since he's not having any digestive problems he's now allowed to eat what he wants. But the Leukeran and Prednisone have taken their toll. His latest blood tests show values that are just on the lower end of the normal ranges. His Herpes, perfectly controlled with l-lysine, has come back, bringing the occasional secondary infections. But he's not lost any weight. His fur is shiny, his gums pink. He's a happy boy who still plays with his friends, cuddles with me at night and never fails to greet me at the door.
Outcome: Updated January 29, 2009 - In July 07 Darcy celebrated his 10th birthday with balloons, a fish cake, freshly picked catnip and loads of presents. He was in great form and had a swell time.
September 07: We gambled and stopped the Prednisone in an effort to lessen his Herpes outbreaks, which often resulted in upper respiratory infections. He is still mostly well and happy; the upper respiratory infections don't seem to bother him much -- he still plays and eats well. We're running out of antibiotics to give him, though: he's become resistant to quite a few
July 08: Darcy celebrates yet another birthday, one we thought he'd never see. He is well and happy -- and keeps putting on weight. Every day is a delight, and I don't even mind his waking me up at 3am to play fetch.
August 08: Yet another upper respiratory infection, this one rather bad. Darcy is not happy and stops playing, although he still eats well. Our vet seems to have given up, saying that she can't think of any other antibiotic to give him. We switch vets. Our new vet and her partner dive into research and consulting with colleagues, coming up with a combination of two antibiotics. Three days later all of his symptoms are gone. We know that the next URI will probably not respond to anything, but we try not to think of that and live in the moment. The next two months are priceless. He's happy and well and plays like a kitten, while I savour every single moment.
September 08: Three years in remission on my sixtieth birthday. At my insistence we celebrate it at my home because to me it is Darcy's day. Three years in remission is much more important than turning sixty!
Mid-October 08: Another URI, worse than any he's ever had. Our vets once more spend hours doing research; so do I. He has a fever, is lethargic and not playing. We try nebulising and twice-daily steamings. We stop the Leukeran; we give him immune system boosters and a variety of supplements. We change the nebulising drugs. Nothing is working. He still wants to cuddle, so we spend a great deal of time doing that. I remind him of our deal that he would not be allowed to suffer.
November 5, 08: We have tried literally everything to quell this URI, but things are getting worse. Darcy is having trouble breathing. We spend the day cuddling. We have a long talk. It is time to say goodbye to my beloved sunshine.
November 6, 08: Darcy's last day. He's given NSAIDS and feels better. He eats, sits in the window. I give him all the treats he wants. We cuddle. I sing him his song over and over and am rewarded with purrs. Our vet comes to our home in the evening; my sister comes over for support. Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, my beloved, my sunshine, dies peacefully in my arms.
It was my dearest wish that Darcy have a private cremation. But I am ill and quite poor, and all of my carefully saved money was used to purchase the very expensive nebulising drugs we had hoped would save his life. Two members of the Lymphoma Group came forward and sent generous cheques. Darcy was privately cremated on November 7, 09 and was returned to me a few days later in a small round ceramic bowl. That meant the world to me, and I will be forever grateful to two women I have never met but who will always have a special place in my heart.
Marie, Darcy's devoted companion
Outcome: March 2/07: still in remission. Glued to the window trying to catch the big fat snowflakes falling on the other side...
- By Marie Darcy's Companion -
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Chemo Protocol Used
Leukeran (chlorambucil) 2mg twice a week; Prednisone 5mg every other day; l-lysine 500mg daily for FHV.
Holistic Remedies Used