In April of 2007, Emmitt, my beloved 12 year old cat started bleeding in his nostril. My vet thought it was an infection, as Em had allergies for several years. He put him on antibiotic and they worked for about a week. Over the next couple of months we tried various drugs, all with the same result. My vet explained the worst case would be a tumor but he felt that was rare and I shouldn't worry yet. At the end of June Emmitt took a turn for the worse. He hid under the bad, his fur was matted as if he had a fever and he was as sick as I had ever seen him. My vet recommended we send him to the specialty hospital to see an internist and have his nasal cavity scoped. I recall how sick he was the day we brought him and it still breaks my heart. As it turns out he was also diabetic and at that point suffering from ketoacidiosis and near death. The scope was the furthest thing from the internists mind at that point. After several days of insulin and great care, he pulled through and we brought him home. In our final visit with her, she suggested that we look at his teeth again with our regular vet to see if he is suffering from a dental infection before we put him through a scope.
He had dental work a couple of years earlier but the remaining teeth had decayed. My regular vet is really wonderful and he took great care of his teeth. Poor little Em was left with only 2 in his little mouth. Unfortunately within a couple of weeks the nasal issues came back again. His nose was running, his breathing was loud and the bleeding was sporadic. My vet felt that chances were still slim he had a tumor. After the past couple months he said that if Em had cancer he should be much sicker and the tumor would be able to be felt by now. He thought possibly Em had a chronic nasal infection. In August Em got so sick that he spent almost 2 weeks with my vet. They had him in a cage with a vaporizer and the medication they gave him helped this time. Again once he got home the symptoms reappeared and my vet suggested we return to the specialty hospital for the scope. Emmitt also has a heart murmur so anytime he is under anesthesia we are concerned. The internist did his scope on a Friday, we picked him up that evening. She told me the results would be in sometime the following week.
On Sunday she called with the awful news that he had lymphoma. We had predetermined we would not put Emmitt or ourselves though chemo but she told me if she were a cat that had to have cancer Lymphoma is what she would choose. She urged me to come back and at least consult with an oncologist. I spoke to my regular vet who I trust completely and he agreed. We consulted that week with a colleague of Dr Fred (the renowned vet. oncologist). He convinced us to give chemo a try, though he pushed radiation as well- which we opted not to do. We began chemo in September with him but after a brief encounter in which the oncologist was incredibly rude, we switched to Dr Fred at my vets advise. My vet also had worked with Dr Fred previously and offered to do Ems chemo in his office rather than the hour away at Dr Fred's. Dr Fred was totally agreeable and this made everyone's life easier. The first few weeks were hard on the Madison protocol. Emmitt's appetite dwindled yet he had to eat to get his twice daily insulin. His nose kept bleeding and he lost weight (14 down to 8). We spent nearly 90 minutes twice a day coaxing him to eat but in the whole time he never missed a meal. At the end of week 9 his nose running got much worse. I was wiping it every few minutes and thick gooey stuff was pouring out. My vet tried benedryl and antibiotic and the running immediately stopped. And for the first time in months his breathing was silent.
In the span of a few days the turn around was incredible. Dr. Fred looked at him, checked his weight (back to 11.5) and pronounced him in remission at the end of Nov. Every day since has gotten better and better. He is a lifer at my vets office and they all love him and his sweet disposition. I drop him off for chemo on he way to work on Fridays (now every other Friday) and he spends the day with them and I get him on the way home. We see Dr Fred every 8-10 weeks and at his last visit his weight was almost 13. We recently adopted a 3 legged baby brother (Rudy) for Emmitt and his 2 sisters and Emmitt plays like a kitten again.
We are now on maintenance for at least 2 more years and chemo treatments will remain at every other week until the end of the summer and then go to every third week. Dr Fred told me it takes the commitment of himself, my vet and me to make this work so well. I can never thank my vet and his staff enough for all they have done for Emmitt. And Dr Fred has been just incredible. We all know eventually the lymphoma will probably return but for now we live everyday loving Emmitt and being thankful for the second chance he was given. Emmitt is the sweetest most wonderful cat I can imagine having. I feel so lucky that my vets helped me choose to undergo chemo after all.
Outcome: Emmitt just passed away at 19 of congestive heart failure. He survived the cancer so I want everyone to know its possible. He lived about 6 years after being in remission.
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