The Enumerated Suck of the First Week: Lymphoma Suckhole Pt. 2

This is Part 2 in an ongoing series about Mortimer, Original Critter, who has been diagnosed with feline hepatic lymphoma. Read more about that whole pile of shit here and here.

The first week sucks so bad.

I’m technically only on Day 5 of the first week, and it’s already been the longest and crappiest that I can remember in recent times. And that stands to reason: my cat is a walking time bomb. Of course that sucks. What’s surprising is the numerous, often excessively banal, ways in which the first week of a lymphoma diagnosis is a horror. So, without further ado, let’s just jump straight into this flaming shitpile with both feet.

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Shit Begins: Lymphoma Suckhole Pt. 1

poop

This is Part 1 in an ongoing series about Mortimer, Original Critter, who has been diagnosed with feline hepatic lymphoma. Read more about that whole pile of shit here

That’s how all this started: With poop. How else would it start in my house?

Technically, that’s not true. It was the absence of poop that got this ball of suck rolling downhill in highly uncontrolled fashion.

The following is as condensed a timeline as I can give, from weirdness that I now understand to be relevant to diagnosis. It’s probably very dull–it’s a goddamn timeline of my life over the past couple weeks. But if there is one thing I hope it can illustrate, it’s that the symptoms of this horseshit can be extremely subtle. I pay such close attention to my critters that you could reasonably accuse me of helicopter pet parenting and not a single (probable) early symptom couldn’t be easily explained by normal circumstance of life. So if you have a cat with lymphoma and you feel like the biggest asshole of all time for not picking up on it earlier, I am here to tell you that this shit does not play fair.

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*unintelligible swear words*

This is a terrible picture because this has been a terrible week.

 

Mortimer, Original Critter, has lymphoma.

That’s why he looks very angry above: he was, at the time, 12 hours out from his first chemo, had significantly diminished liver function, hadn’t eaten in 3.5 days, and was suffering mild encephalopathy.

Fuck cancer.

I’ve decided I’m going to chronicle whatever the hell happens from here on out mainly for people who, like me, take their cat to the vet for some vague weirdness only to be told, after several hours and multiple bags of chips that, actually: lymphoma. And especially for people who then frantically wipe the grease and crumbs off their fingers to google “cat lymphoma prognosis” and wind up with far more depression and confusion than they had while trying to wrap grey matter around the understanding that time with their kitteh is now finite in a painfully specific way.

 

I’ll do a couple background posts and then, hopefully, post many updates over the next few years.

If you’ve come across this in your Googlage and are wondering how to proceed, let me state right up front that I have no idea or recommendations beyond strongly suggesting that you consult a veterinary oncologist. I can only share what we’ve decided, why we decided it, and how everything plays out.

So, the following are relevant to our specific situation, based on discussions with our veterinary oncologist:

Mortimer:
12yo neutered male domestic shorthair. Former barn kitten. Has lived the spoiled life since 8 weeks of age. Indoor only. Fed only the fancypants-est food. Grain free for the past 10 years, raw-fed (prey model home, prepared frozen, and prepared dehydrated) for the past 3 years. Sees a holistic vet for yearly checkups. Gets only rabies vax. Has been the picture of health, if a bit on the portly side, his entire life.

Diagnosis:
Hepatic Lymphoma with super giant intestinal lymph nodes and a shitty liver. I believe that is the highly technical terminology. Will also accept: Fucking shit. That’s what we have.

Options:
Chemo, or imminent death from liver failure.

Decision:
Chemo. Madison protocol. That’s 2 months of weekly treatments as an outpatient, followed by 4 months of treatments every other week.

Prognosis:
Since liver failure is a pretty significant complicating factor, prognosis is uncertain and depends entirely on:

  • Mort’s ability to tolerate the chemo
  • The responsiveness of the cancer to the treatments
  • The ability to return the liver to somewhat normal functionality.

In general, cats tolerate chemo in this application quite well. Lymphoma in cats cannot be cured, therefore treatment aims to improve quality of life and, ideally, achieve remission. This means that side effects are kept to a relative minimum and this treatment protocol cannot, in any regard, be compared to the level of sickness commonly induced by chemo in humans. If remission can be achieved, then Mort could get a couple quality years. Median survival rate is 1.5 years.

I cannot stress this enough: The goal of treatment is to use the chemo to make Mort feel better. Not to make Mort violently ill in the short term, with long term hopes of beating the disease. Since the  disease cannot be beaten, there is no point in causing suffering.

I do not intend to present as any sort of authority on the subject. I am just a seriously freaked out person with a very sick kitty and if anything that we (Schmoop, Mort, Other Critters, and I) go through in the course of whatever is to come can provide any sort of comfort then I might as well share it.

Blog will remain blue for the forseeable future, mainly because making it all black (LIKE MY SOUL) would be super hard to read.

Fuck Cancer.

Read Part 1.