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Colette's Diary

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It Was/Is Cancer

December 28th 2011 7:18 pm
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This is Mom Carol. I’m hijacking the diary again. This is not our year. Biopsy results for Colette's mass: "This small multilobulated mass from the left side of the ventral abdomen consists of a malignant neoplasm derived from the epithelial cells of the gland i.e. an adenocarcinoma...." In English, the mass was cancerous. Even though our vet believes she removed the mass cleanly, this was an aggressive form of cancer and there is a high probability that cells have migrated. I have an oncology consultation scheduled for tomorrow at 11:00 AM.

The lab results say that there are areas where the tumor cells have “invaded or occluded lymphatics or venules,” which makes migratory activity highly possible. They go on to say that “feline mammary adenocarcinomas are generally aggressive malignancies that are invasive and frequently metastasize in regional lymph nodes and distant sites. These tumors frequently recur when incompletely excised.” They also say that Siamese cats tend to have a higher incidence of adenocarcinomas compared to other breeds…”

I think I covered the crux of the matter. Our vet believes that she was able to remove the mass cleanly, but because of the lymphatic and venule activity, it’s highly probable that cancer cells have traveled outside the mass. If I heard her correctly (and you can imagine by this time I wasn’t hearing everything clearly) she says that if it has spread, untreated, Colette would have somewhere between three months and a year left. She is strongly recommending chemotherapy.

Honestly, I wish I could say this was a complete surprise. It wasn’t. Colette was diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis two years ago and the lab results at the time suggested that sarcoma might be involved. In the past two years our vet has suggested doing an expensive, extremely invasive exploratory intestinal biopsy more than once. Since Colette was responding fairly well to her treatment regimen, we put this on the back burner. After all, I’ve already shouldered enormous vet expenses for both her and Marrakech. And three years down the line, I’m still not working.

This doesn’t mean I’m blaming myself for not doing whatever I could for Colette—far from it. I have been doing everything that I can reasonably do. (And given my circumstances, many people have told me I have already gone far beyond what is reasonable.)

The fact of the matter is that Colette is a kitty that has IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disorder) and it is thought that IBD stems from inappropriate immune system response. I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that this cancer is just the newest development thrown at us by the IBD. (One of the main functions of the lymphatic system is the transport of the immune cells to to the lymph nodes.) I haven’t been saying this here, but, as early as last year, I told our vet I was thinking this would be the kitty that was going to break my heart early.

My guess was if it wasn’t one thing it would be another. For my own sake, I’m going to list here what we already knew before this newest cancer and what else just showed up in her bloods/x-rays. She had: Lymphocytic Colitis and Plasmatic Enteritis—or IBD, Heart Murmur, Feline Rhinotracheitis, and Hyperthyroidism. Her x-rays/bloods just picked up onset Chronic Renal Failure and onset Asthma.

I’m also fairly certain that even if I had pet insurance for her (I don’t) the insurance company would have connected the dots and not covered any of this. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make a decision in the next few days over whether or not to pursue this aggressively with chemotherapy. The decision will need to be based both on the doctors’ assessments of her quality of life and life expectancy given everything that’s already going on, and on my finances.

Whatever I decide, my love for her comes first. And that love may have to take the form of letting this run its course without intervention.

For those of you interested in reading more about lymph function and lymph metastasis, below is a link to the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory at Harvard University.

Lymph Function and Lymph Metastasis

Mom Carol


Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz

December 25th 2011 8:33 pm
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Oh what a relief… it is for both me and Mom. For those furs who missed it, I peed at 2:00 this morning and I peed again this morning. It was my first time in 5 days. Mom treated it like we had won the lottery. Sheesh. You should have seen the line-up around the bathroom door. Mom and Samsara heard me scratching in the litter box and both of them came running. So much for a purrivate trip to the bathroom. They both were lined up around the doorways between the bedroom and the bathroom staring in at me.

Mom says she’s so relieved, that it’s like the best Christmas purresent I could ever give her. She says she would have tried to call a car service to take me to ER today. She didn’t want to take me out on account of how cold it is because of my shaved belly--my Buddha belly--no asking me for belly rubs for good luck, though, because of the sutures.

Mom says that she still doesn’t understand where I could have put it all for that long. She says I’ve been eating like a horse and drinking like a fish. The v-lady said to expect a possible ‘back-up’ on poop but this was a surprise to everybody.

V-lady had suggested that Mom put me by myself in a room with a litter box and no access to the bathtub last night. When we thought about it, we realized that wasn’t such a good move. Since the only rooms where we can shut the door are the bathroom and the bedroom, it would have meant locking Samsara out of the bedroom. I don’t think any of us would have gotten sleep if Samsara was locked out. When she’s unhappy about something she lets us know—loudly. That girl doesn’t shut up for one minute! Anyway, thanks effuryone who suggested putting tissue paper in the bathtub drain. Mom says that was a really good idea. It was one where we all could get some shut-eye too because Samsara wouldn’t be howling all night. We did that. Mom was really funny all afternoon yesterday. She kept going over to the bathtub to check the paper in the drain!

Speaking of poops and pees, because of the stress from the surgery, I took a step backwards with those. My poops aren’t horrible, but they’re not as good as they’ve been over the last few months. So, for the moment, I’m back to my every 8 hours med schedule.

Mom was going to go see her sister, Auntie Joany, today, but she decided that it was better if she stayed home with me. She had a nice day anyway, exchanging phone calls with friends and baking holiday cookies—Pfeffernusse or Pepper Nuts in English. She says next to Lebkuchen these are her favorite cookies. She says she even gets to eat them this time. The last cookies she gave as gifts to friends and to our v-lady and her staff. Giggles. She got a bit carried away with ‘sampling the merchandise’ this morning. She said she might borrow some of my Tagament.

It got a bit late by the time Mom put the holiday bows on us, so picture-taking didn’t go well--it never does when she uses the flash on the camera. We might try it again tomorrow. I would say bow or no bow, I’m Mom’s best Christmas purresent!

And speaking of purresents, we want to share something we think is really special: the Pachelbel Canon. This is our favorite piece of music any time of year, but especially around the holidays. Mom has already spent many hours searching for a ‘best’ performance of it—the one that sends her. While she really prefers a string quartet performance and found a sublime one on You Tube, the Philadelphia String Quartet, the quartet, unfortunately, has chosen to cut off the audio in the middle. She can’t say enough nice things about the love with which they play the piece, but alas…. Nevertheless, here is a superb performance by the Academy of St. Martin’s in the Field Orchestra.

Pachelbel Canon

Merry Christmas effuryone!


P.S. I have my follow-up visit with the v-lady on Wednesday. I think I’m over the hump now and things should go well.


Post –Surgery Update

December 24th 2011 12:13 am
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This is Mom Carol. I’m hijacking Colette’s diary one more time.

Colette is doing well. Under doctor’s orders, I already removed the bandages (much to my chagrin) on Wednesday morning. And, as usual, Colette decided the interview was over way before I was done. (She does this to me all the time when I’m trying to comb out her fur.) She jumped (egads!) off the bed, with half the bandage still attached to her and with me trailing after her as fast as I could go bent over double holding on to the half I removed. Cattitude returning.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the sofa and it was clear her next move would be another jump. I lifted her on and took a very grateful Colette’s headbonk, e-collar to the bridge of my nose. Ouch! Two minutes later, end of interview. She jumped off the sofa. (Egads!)

I took her off the pain killer this morning. There was no more need for it. I woke up way after her next dose should have been administered. She was underfoot and happily demanding I feed her. She ate like a horse (as she’s been doing since she first arrived home).

I’m not sure if she’s doing this to make a point, but I’m constantly being e-collar head-bonked in the leg. She’s ever so much happier when I take it off to let her eat. (I noticed tonight that she’s figured out how to drop the lampshade over the bowl so she can eat with it on. Getting water was never an issue for her.) She’s also quite happy with all the extra head scritches. Psychosomatic , I’m sure—she’s probably more trying to paw the e-collar off her head than getting an itchy neck all the time. I get tons of purrs when I scratch her itches, though.

I posted a couple of photos. Little did I imagine when I took the photo of her taking off her witch’s hat for Halloween, that it would give her some practice in accessory removal. These photos were snapped on Wednesday and Thursday.

Now, one question, and I already phoned the vet’s office about it this morning. A bit of a preface first. Before all of this started with the enlarged nipple, Colette used her litter box for only one thing: poop. Pee was something one did directly down the bathtub drain making sure that it truly was down the drain: wipe your paws on the plastic shower curtain liner and explode out of the bathtub for a zoomie. (I’ve never had a problem with that since I take showers—the water from the shower rinses exactly where she’s wiping her paws.)

The behavior changed when the nipple problem started. At first I thought it was Samsara soaking Colette’s litter box—no, it was Colette soaking her own box. Her bloods a few weeks ago picked up that there are onset renal issues. Okay, now on to my point. There has been no pee in Colette’s litter box since Tuesday morning before I brought her in for the surgery, I haven’t seen her in the bathtub, and there is no inappropriate pee anywhere!!! The vet tech also thought it was odd and told me to watch her.

She’s drinking like a fish. Could she have switched back to the bathtub drain? Is she in the bathtub while I’m asleep or out? I left the house for short periods of time on Wednesday and today.

I need to call the vet back in the morning. Unless I find pee in the litter box by tomorrow morning I’m going to have to say the same thing as I did today. Scratches head.

We’ll keep you posted.


Colette is Home

December 20th 2011 4:13 pm
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Hi effurybody, this is Mom Carol. The surgery went well and Colette is home, albeit, really out of it.

She arrived home safely, thank you Natalie the Nat Cat and Orange Ruffy’s Mom and Daddy. Ruffy’s Daddy picked us up from v-lady and then we went to get Ruffy’s Mom from her job. We don’t know what we would have done without you. Thank you so much!

Colette arrived home with a ravenous appetite and an e-collar getting in her way. The doctor wanted us to restrict her intake the first few hours anyway, so the e-collar worked out rather well. She was having such a devil of a time with it and she was so desperate to get to the kibble that kibble went flying all over the kitchen.

She’s quite wobbly but she doesn’t want to be on a blankie or in her bed. She’s resting on the carpet in the living room, more content to be left alone than fussed over. I’ll be keeping a close watch on her—if need be, the puppy training crate is still here and can be put to use. The vet sent us home with antibiotic and pain-killer for her to start using tomorrow morning.

Good on Colette—she lost a bit of poop on the kitchen floor, realized it, and successfully went to use the litter box on her own.

My gut feeling is that we caught this just in time. Our vet confirmed what I thought I felt: the mass behind her nipple had grown from about an eighth inch areola to a half inch areola in the space of time between her x-ray a week ago and now. Our vet removed the nipple and the mass behind it. The mass is being sent to the lab for a biopsy and we should have the results in four to five business days.

Thanks for all your purrayers and gifts. We haven’t been around much over the last week. I’ve been trying to play catch-up after the show I performed in on Thursday, and I’m still trying to catch up—I’m in it for the long haul with the Christmas cards tonight.

We’ll be back on-line sporadically over the next few days and will thank you all properly for your gifts as soon as I can come up for some air.

Mom Carol


Update on My Surgery.

December 16th 2011 1:48 am
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The blood pressure cuff that the v-lady needed finally came in on Friday, but Mom and the v-lady didn’t hook up until Monday (because of the v-lady and not us).

My surgery is now scheduled for this coming Tuesday. Since Mom was performing this evening (Thursday) she was afraid that she couldn’t be around enough for me this week. The v-lady agreed that it would be better to do it next week.

In the meantime, Mom got two chuckles when she was on the phone with v-lady and our vet tech. They called us just as Mom got home on Monday. Samsara and I were making so much noise in the background they couldn’t hear each other (my voice is actually pretty quiet, though). When they asked what was going on, Mom told them that they were listening to us singing the ‘Feed Me Chorus’.

Among other items, (I’ve always wanted to say that!), we got home from the vet last week and Mom left my travel bag out in the living room with the side flap open. She keeps a blankie in there for me. Samsara decided she was going to sleep in it! She’s always in it. It’s going to smell like Samsara by the time I have to use it again!

Mom was also marveling, both with v-lady and to herself, about how smart I am. Well, why wouldn’t I be smart? There’s food involved at the tail end of this, (a pun, my word!). I hear Mom rattling around all the stuff while she’s preparing my meds, then I hear the lovely “clink, clink, clink” of kibble hitting my bowl. I show up in the kitchen for my meds. Mom calls it our “even-exchange” program. She wraps me in a towel and presses on my hips and tells me to sit. It’s more comfortable for both of us if I sit, so I do. But the one that really surprised Mom the other night was when Samsara left some kibblies in the bowl. I thought she was going to give me a really hard time with that, so I sat there staring longingly at the bowl. I didn’t dare touch it. You never know… Mom was washing the dishes, and that usually means a bit of a shower coming my way if I try to get the food Samsara leaves behind. I swear, I didn’t touch it till she told me it was okay. (She really did wait.) Mom sounded so sweet when she gave me the go-ahead. :-)

Anyway, sorry we haven’t posted anything until now. The ol’ secretary has been really busy. Then, this evening, she left the city at 12:30 and hit a train delay and didn’t get home till 2:00 AM. Pfsst! We were starving and I hadn’t had my meds either.

P. Esss… Mom says to tell you all the show went really well. Mom says she’s sleeping in tomorrow and then she has to hunker down and take care of things like holiday cards and stuff.

We’ll keep effurybody posted.


No Sign of Metastasis, but…

December 6th 2011 1:50 pm
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Mom says we have to do this quick since she needs to get to other things.

I’m home from the vet. The first part of this diary entry is the good news. My x-rays show no sign of any metastasis. In other words, if it is cancer, it hasn’t spread. Phew!

The part that v-lady needed, a blood pressure monitor, didn’t come in, so I didn’t have my surgery today. V-lady’s office will phone us to let us know when it does come in so we can schedule the surgery. In the meantime, she did my x-rays and blood-work.

Now for the other stuff: some more not so good news.

My bloods showed elevated CRE levels. The v-lady says they indicate early onset kidney problems. And the x-rays show I might be developing asthma.

Is there anything out there that I haven’t started getting? Mom says to bite my tongue.

The rat (Mom) didn’t feed me last night—whaddaya mean nothing after 11:30 PM? Not right! And she took away my water.

She said: “sorry kitty” when I showed up in the kitchen this morning and she didn’t give me my meds either. My radar said something was up. I wasn’t taking any chances so I hid behind the sofa. Then the sofa started moving. Uh oh!

I almost got away. Really I did… except that dim-wit, Samsara, had to block my escape route. She got me! She couldn’t possibly take me out of the house if she couldn’t zip my tail into the bag ‘cause it was standing stick-straight, right? Wrong. >^..^<

She giggled and lunged for the camera. My tail, along with my cattitude, wilted. (We’ll put up the photo later.)

I tried it again with the v-lady. What is it with everyone? I put my ears back, I growled, I hissed—they giggled. I’m not all fluff, you know! It felt like Custard’s Last Stand. It didn’t look like custard though. (Colette…I think you mean General Custer. It couldn’t possibly have looked like custard.) Oh.

Can someone help me look for my cattitude? I seem to have lost the Colette touch.



My Vet Visit - Update

December 4th 2011 12:17 am
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Needless to say, they never told me what an ordeal this was going to be. Geeze—I thought I was getting off easy today.

It all started last night. Mom gave me my last meds and kibble at 11:00 and she took away the water fountain!!!!!! Then she didn’t feed me this morning! I got stuffed into my carry bag first thing and we went to see vet lady!

Did I see her toss Samsara some kibble and water this morning before we left?

Anyway my echocardiogram test is done. I’m okay for the surgery, but they found a slight bacterial infection going on in my lungs.

Sigh. I started sneezing a bit this week and we didn’t pay much attention to it until now. Funny how you don’t realize things are backwards sometimes. I usually start sneezing when they increase my prednisolone. (The pred suppresses my immune system, so if I get too much of it, my rhinotracheitis surfaces.) The sneezing wasn’t as bad as it usually is, so we never stopped to think about the fact that v-lady decreased the pred and upped the tylan. I shouldn’t have been sneezing at all

They gave me antibiotics to take for the next two weeks. This is getting really complicated. Mom is beginning to call my meds a cocktail. My first meds for the day were: a syringe with pred, a syringe with lysine gel, a syringe of antibiotics, my tylan capsule and a syringe with water. And I got all of it at the same time! Sheesh! Do I have the patience of a saint or what! And now my tylan schedule is messed up because we started the meds so late today. I need to take them once every 8 hours, but my last one was at 8:30 tonight. Let’s see, 8:30 PM + 8 hours. ….. it doesn’t look like I’m getting that third pill today.

The surgery is supposed to be on Tuesday, but the v-lady needs to get a part in before she can do it. As of the time we left her office she didn’t know if she had it or not, because the vet tech who would have received it wasn’t working today.

V-lady wants us to keep our appointment for Tuesday anyway since she still wants to do x-rays.

Mom says I was acting really weird after we got home. First I didn’t finish all the kibble in my bowl. Then I kept walking from room to room meowing really loud. I usually don’t meow much at all—only if I want my kibble and Mom isn’t giving it to me. By this evening, I was back to my old self.

We’ll keep you posted as we know more.



Vet Visit – Oh Nosie. Here We Go Again!

November 29th 2011 4:04 pm
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Not good. A few weeks ago, Mom felt what she thought might be an enlarged nipple on my belly, but I had a lot of mats in my coat (which I wasn’t letting her brush) so it was hard to tell. She gave it a little bit of time. The last time she did a poop run to the vet she mentioned it, and the vet told her to bring me in as soon as possible.

Well… sigh. We were hoping it was a pimple. It’s not a pimple. It is an enlarged nipple.

The vet doesn’t want to take any chances with this. She says that when the nipples are involved it usually is cancer—she wants to take it right away. She says that if it’s cancer it can spread very quickly.

I go for an echocardiogram Saturday morning (because of my heart condition) and surgery on Tuesday.

Big Oh Nosie…


Mom is just taking this one day at a time. She already suspected, so it’s not like this came out of ‘left field’. She’s okay (well, not okay, but okay). We just wanted to post earlier this evening. Mom says she has to go back out of the house and she has phone calls she needs to make when she gets home (related to her show coming up in two weeks), so if we’re not online, it doesn’t mean that we’re having a crisis.

Mom is still going to go ahead and try to post Samsara’s photos tonight.



Home for the Holidays

November 28th 2011 10:35 pm
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Wow, it’s been a while since the ol’ secretary let me write something!

This is going to be really quick since she says she’s about to drop from being tired, and she’s taking me to visit vet lady tomorrow. Mom says she wants something checked but we don’t want to talk about it until we know more. Hopefully, it’s nothing.

I’ve been telling Mom all summer long that we took some really nice photos, and she always reaches the point where she doesn’t know what she wants to post, so nothing gets posted. I swear I’m about to read her the riot act over this one. Anyway—it’s been several days already she’s been meaning to put up our holiday pictures—and guess what? We have fewer ones of me than we do of Samsara this time, so Mom decided to post my photos tonight and work on Samsara’s tomorrow.

Cats-honest truth: as long as there’s nothing resembling a costume or a set Samsara will stick around for as many photos as Mom wants to take. If Mom has anything like that in mind, Samsara is the worst. That little girl’s eyes look like Mom is about to torture her.

On the other paw, if there’s nothing resembling a costume or a set, I beat a hasty retreat. Nope. Sorry. Not interested. Later Mom. A holiday is coming in a few months. Get your pictures then. Giggles.

Anyway, Mom got us a house for the holidays and, thank catness, this time it doesn’t look like either one of us will be put in jail.

Mom really likes these photos. We hope you do too.



Supper Is Late Due to ….

October 29th 2011 12:49 am
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Pumpkin Cookies! How dare she! (I’m not allowed to have any!) The Tabbies o’ Trout Towne sent us their grandma’s cookie recipe.

It looked easy enough, until the batter started creeping up the hand-mixer blades and then wouldn’t cooperate with the plastic spatula either. The show was really interesting—it looked like she got two chicken drumsticks! (Knew that would get you Dude, Boomer, Daisy, Tuna ‘n Sauce!) It was a good show, but it wasn’t fishies or chicken. Do you know how many times a plastic spatula can move the cookie dough from the inside to the outside of the beaters? A lot! Mom says the next time she makes those cookies she’s going to use grandpa’s heavy-duty counter-top mixer and a dough hook!

Thanks guys—supper was LATE!

Seriously though, thank you! Your grandma is a heck of a good baker. Mom says the cookies are luscious! She put walnuts in them this time; she’s going to try dried cranberries next time.

Incidentally, Mom says my halo is slipping. MOL! I’m making “guerrilla feed-me” part of my nightly routine and Samsara is helping. Samsara moves from the ‘puter chair into Mom’s lap and starts trying to climb on the ‘puter table (which is really small). Just about that time, I begin putting my nails in her knee. Giggles. I told her I wanted to free feed. (Moms can be so dumb sometimes. She thinks I want pets on the head!)

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