Lymphoma please, please help

This is a special place for cats to share their love and support for each other during difficult times; it's a place to light candles, give a "get well purr" and let everyfur know they are never ever alone.

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Bear (In- Memory of)

Excuse me but I- would like more- food now
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 2:31pm PST 
I was diagnosed with lymphoma (small cell) in my intestines. Mommy and Daddy cannot give me the chemotherapy eventhough they want to because they have a baby and the drugs are toxic to Mommy who is nursing and the baby who crawls. The vet said we need to keep these drugs and any amounts of my urine, vomit and poop away from Mommy and the baby. The problem is that Daddy is leaving for two weeks and Mommy will have no one to give me the pills nor clean my box and any messies I make on the floor (which I am prone to). Mommy and Daddy are very very very upset and don't know what to do.

Abbie- (always in- my heart)

I'm fat, I'm- fluffy and I'm- full of love
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 3:08pm PST 
I am so sorry you have gotten this diagnosis. It was quite devastating for me when I found that Abbie had Lymphoma.

I administered her chemo at home where I also had a 3 1/2-year-old daughter. I spoke with several vets, a pharmacist and a representative from the drug company to confirm that the drug would not be present in Abbie's urine or feces. All of them told me that the drug was fully-processed and used by the body and would not be present in the litter box. I was not only concerned about my daughter, but my two other kitties who shared the box.

I was told that I was to never actually touch the medication, though. So, I would take Abbie into the bathroom, close the door, put rubber gloves on and then pill her. It was scary a few times when it got stuck in her fur or when I messed up on the pilling and it got mushy in her mouth. I gave her a bath in the sink, washed everything completely, and then kept Abbie in the bathroom for several hours until I was sure she had digested the medication.

Once I got better at pilling, it went much more smoothly. Even then, I would leave her in the bathroom for an hour before letting her out - just to be sure that she wasn't going to throw up the meds. I would then dispose of the gloves in a plastic grocery sack which I would then place in a garbage sack. I would not touch the garbage sack with the gloves, so that when it was closed, my naked hands would not come in contact with any residue.

It was a very nervous time for me. I am obviously, from the above description, a little OCD. I also have panic disorder. But Abbie was my baby. However, I had a human baby, too, who I am highly over protective of. I did everything possible and spoke with as many people as I could to be sure I was doing the right thing. It was still a very anxious time for me.

I will say that I was able to get her into remission and she was putting weight back on and feeling so much better. The meds, themselves, are not given on a daily basis, but on a 21-day cycle (I think). You give the meds for three days and then no meds for 18 days. Then you have to take the kitty in for bloodwork before resuming the treatment. It's a pretty involved process. There were also B-12 shots, medicine to help control her runny poops, medicine to reduce the acid in her tummy, and prednisolone, which you start them on at a high dose and taper down.

She, unfortunately, developed bone cancer in her jaw and I had to make the decision to put her to sleep. It was so sad, because here she was in remission, on so much fewer drugs, and doing so well, and then her bone just crumbled. There was nothing more I could do.

All of that said, I was not breast feeding at the time and I don't know what chance of exposure you would have - even if you followed my over-the-top safety procedures. If your vet has warned against it, then I would be inclined to say that it isn't safe for you or your baby.

Have you checked with your vet to see if it would be possible to let your kitty stay there and receive treatment for the days he needs the chemo meds? And is there someone who can help you scoop the litter box if your husband is out of town? (Although, I feel pretty comfortable with the litter box situation being okay.)

It's a lot to go through. And, while there can be some great results, there is no guarantee. Having a baby is sometimes very difficult, itself. What with the lack of sleep and the anxiety over whether you are doing everything correctly (at least that is the way it was for me). I just can't imagine going through this with a small baby. At least my daughter, at 3 1/2, could understand. She knew that if Abbie threw up she couldn't go near it until I cleaned it (with one of those small steamers). And there was a lot of poop and throw up to clean. I just loved Abbie so much I felt I had to give her a chance to stay with me - and feel better - for a longer time.

Feel free to p-mail me. I'll share any information I can - and offer as much support as I can.


P.S. If your husband doesn't normally travel, you could consider letting Bear stay at the vet and receive treatment while he's out of town, with the understanding that he'll take over all the meds when he returns - or hire a vet tech pet sitter to come to your house and take care of Bear's needs while your husband is away.

Edited by author Wed May 14, '08 3:19pm PST


Winnie and- Chester

Mom...he just- bounced me- again!
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 3:09pm PST 
Bear, so sorry to hear you are sick. Has your mommy considered contacting a professional pet sitter to come in and help take care of you while your daddy is gone. Our pet sitter was a vet tech before she started her business so she is good at the sick stuff (and she deals well with our paranoid mommy too). You can go on google and look up Pet Sitters of America and their website has a guide for finding registered pet sitters in your area. If that isnt an option maybe one fo the vet techs at your vet could come over.

Feel better

Bear (In- Memory of)

Excuse me but I- would like more- food now
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 5:59pm PST 
Bear's Mom writes: The problem is that this drug - Chlorambucil is excreted in the urine and feces as well as vomit and blood. Bear has been vomiting occaisonally and having bloody poops which are very often diarrhea because Bear also has IBD. For about the past month and a half, Bear has been pooping on the floor overnight - regardless of how clean the cat box is. I think it was to tell us that something was wrong. So now we know what is wrong. Bear is very fluffy as well and often gets mucky on his fur near his bottom which we need to wash regularly for him. With diarrhea, it is much worse - plus he leaves poopy marks on the floor/couch/etc where he sits. Sometimes we don't find these marks right away because we have hardwood floor and it blends in - so we have to be vigilant but occaisonally find unexpected ones. With a toxic drug being excreted in his poop and a crawling baby that could come in contact with these poop spots - it is a very, very bad combination. This drug stops cell division - which would be very, very bad for our baby. Bear sleeps with us on the bed - and so does our son which could also introduce the fecal matter to him (and me)accidentially. Both the specialist and our regular vet were adamant that we MUST not get it near the baby or else it can damage him quite seriously. If I get pregnant it would abort the fetus. Just from getting the drug on my hand, not even injesting it. This scares the hell out of us. If we didn't have a child then Bear would already have started the chemotherapy by now. But both vets strongly cautioned us enough that we know we need to choose our son's safety and health over our precious cat-baby whose days are already numbered thanks to this horrible cancer. We have considered having someone come in to help while my husband is away, we have considered locking Bear in a room while being treated - but what kind of a life is that??? Horrible. What happens if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and I step in a diarrhea puddle on the floor (as I've done many times)?? Too many ifs.

We are going to meet with our vet and ask about palliatative care since we don't really know what else to do. I wish to God there was another way. We are also looking into alternative methods - but I doubt any of that quackery really works anyways.

Hazel Lucy &- Purrsville- Cats

tiny gumdrop
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 6:06pm PST 
Bear, I put you on the Catsters in Need of Serious Purring thread. The List is on page one and I also posted at the end of the thread. We sympathize with your terrible quandry and are purring for all of you.
Hazel Lucy

Abbie- (always in- my heart)

I'm fat, I'm- fluffy and I'm- full of love
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 7:12pm PST 
Abbie was on Leukeran, so that is why I was told different information. And I totally understand your situation. I spent several hours each day for quite a while cleaning up poop (some with blood) and throw up. I was in tears so many of those times - both because I loved my sweet Abbie so much, but also because it was physically wearing me out. And then trying to disinfect the carpet each time... I was so grateful when she went into remission. And so was my daughter, because she no longer had to be careful where she stepped.

But I was very honest with you about all I had to go through to treat her. I think it would be too much for you, even if the medication was not harmful to you or your baby. But that adds a whole new dimension.

There are a lot of things you can do for Bear, including prednisone and an anti-diarrhea medication. And you may need to give him sub-q fluids to keep him properly hydrated (I forgot to mention that I did that, as well).

My heart just goes out to you, but I can tell how much you love Bear by the fact that you don't want to diminish his quality of life.

I'm here if you need me.


Purred: Wed May 14, '08 8:59pm PST 
Awwww poor Bear, so sorry to hear you are sick. You are such a handsome cat. Does your mom not have any family or friends that could take you in during this time? Or have you tried a local rescue I know its kitten season but maybe they would know someone experienced in dealing with sick cats who could help.

Purring for you and your humans in this times.hug

Peanut (- in Loving- Memory)

Peanut- always an angel
Purred: Wed May 14, '08 9:04pm PST 
I'm so sorry to hear about Bear. What a beautiful boy he is! I know this is heartbreaking for you.

Perhaps your vet could suggest a different chemo protocol? As Abbie's Mom suggested maybe for now just do prednisone.
The vet Peanut had has a nice web page with info on various chemo regimens and info that might be helpful to you. Here is a link: http://www.portlandvetspecialists.com/library/cancer7.html

Our purrs and prayers are with you and Bear.

Bear (In- Memory of)

Excuse me but I- would like more- food now
Purred: Thu May 15, '08 6:51am PST 
Bear's Mom writes: Apparently the drug Bear would take is also known as Leukeran - and IS the least toxic of all chemo drugs, but still stops cell growth so would be very very damaging to a baby (our son is 11 months old).

I'm trying to figure out how we could do this - put a sheet on the couch and bed that we remove and wash every day (in case of poopy stains), bleach the floor each day for any messes... I suggested this to my husband and he still is concerned about our son's safety. As I am too.... but I can't stand the thought of losing my Bear. We've had him 12 years and he's not a pet to us - he's a furry family member - plain and simple.

I can't believe how many people that have said to us they wouldn't even pay for the exploratory scopes we did - they'd just euthanize for bloody poop/diarrhea. Or "what's two years? (the possible max remission) You know he has cancer - just put him down." All our family members and friends are saying this!! I can't believe how cold they are being. Especially after my Dad had two furries (cat and dog) get cancer and how he struggled with letting them go (they were diagnosed too late for chemo to work). When I was growing up, our family cat, Arthur also had lymphoma (tumor in throat). His tumor was obstructing food passage down to his tummy so we had to put him down. He was 21.

I guess I'm just delaying what we should do for Bear's comfort. Poor guy is probably in pain and here I am dilly-dallying. I have scheduled a face-to-face consultation to see the vet on Saturday and ask some more questions. I want to know estimated time left for Bear, if we should try the prednisone (he originally said the chemo is what works, this is not worth doing), but if it is palliatative then maybe he'll agree. And if he's in pain. If he is then we need to say goodbye sooner. I can't stand the thought of him suffering.

Our other kitty, Bear's pal (and we believe gay lover, but that's another story) Buddy died suddenly at home in August '06 - luckily we were there with him so he wasn't alone. It was terrible and traumatic, but I'm glad we could comfort him. It was so quick (heart attack). That is why this is so tough too - going from two loving kitties to none in such a short time. And choosing your cat's death is horrid. I want to be there to hold him while he falls asleep. Not sure if my husband can handle it (not like I can either) but it seems right.

Thank you all for your purrs and support. Your kind words have comforted me tremendously.

Sally Maria- (Mama's- Angel)

Mama's angel
Purred: Thu May 15, '08 7:44am PST 
Oh Bear! How well I know what you and your family is going through!!! I just got diagnosed with low grade intestinal lymphoma about 3 weeks ago. My vet prescribed me the same thing: Leukeran and Prednisolone. Unfortunately after only 2 days of taking the Predisolone, my lungs filled with fluid and I had to spend the night in an oxygen cage. I also have cardiomyopathy and my lungs are a little weak and a usual side effect of any steroid is fluid retention. I am waiting to start a new steroid that (hopefully) doesn't have the same effect.

I've been taking my Leukeran for a week now. My mama was so nervous about me taking it she cried as she gave me the first pill. Mama wears gloves and makes sure they go inside out in the trash so no one touches them. I've thrown up a couple of times but my kitty sister and dog friend haven't gone near it so mama was able to clean it up with no trouble. I've also started the B12 shots and get my second one this weekend. I have to go back to the vet next week to see how I'm doing since, in addition to the chemo and steroids, I'm also taking Diltiazem (for my heart) and Furosemide (a diuretic).

This is a heavy load for any kitty and their family to go through. I couldn't even imagine it if my mama had a little one to worry about too! My mama has been getting "the look" too about why she would go through all of this for a cat. We always figured it would be my heart that would keep me from living to a ripe old age, but now it could be the cancer too. But if there's a chance that I could have 2 more years of being able to stretch out in the sunny, get my furs combed, have turkey treats and all, then my mama and I have to take it. If I don't go into remission in the next few months, my mama has decided not to continue the chemo since it's so hard on my little body. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it...

I hope you and your family can find a solution that works for you. Cancer is a scary thing and when the treatment for it can cause just as much trouble, it's hard to know what to do. I wish the best of luck to you all. Take care!!!

Hugs & Purrs,
Sally Maria

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