The Cancer Cat Chronicles: Madison

More of D’s words.

The trip was a bit of an ordeal. First we confused 94 with 90 and went up the wrong highway and had to go to Madison via Milwaukee, not the most direct route. Then we had our initial consultation but they couldn’t tell us anything conclusive.

If you recall, last Friday we found out that the lab couldn’t tell what type of cancer this is by observation so we gave the go-ahead to do an “immunohistochemical stain.” This basically looks for the genetic markers that would be present in certain types of cells to determine what cancer we’re dealing with. Well, the folks at UW didn’t want to start a treatment until we knew for sure, because treatment for lymphoma might make an adenocarcinoma worse, etc. So basically our trip up there was just to get the ball rolling, and we didn’t get much more toward diagnosis or cure.

They did want to do (another) ultrasound and (another) urinalysis, but couldn’t schedule the ultrasound until 4, so we had to wait out most of the afternoon. We set up shop in a coffeehouse for a while and puttered around campus, and possibly found the hospital where I was born, although it seems to have been turned into a Veteran’s hospital.

We went back to the veterINARIAN’s hospital and picked up the Biscuit, and one good/bad thing came out of it; we got to have a bit of “the talk” about putting him down. Now certainly isn’t the time, but the vet gave us the talk, and we heard it, and in fact we were a bit ahead of her — she said it all came down to “quality of life” and we had already found a scale online called “5H MM” — Hurt, Hunger, Happiness, Hydration, Hygiene, Mobility, and More good days than bad. (more info at this site). What was good about this was that we felt very prepared for receiving “the talk,” and this seems to be different from a lot of pet people’s
experiences where they get the shock of having their healer suddenly seem to become a threat.

I also asked what final stages or unsuccessful treatment might look like, and we got a better picture of that. And while it’s not pretty — further growth of his abdominal mass, increased difficulty pooping and eating, malnutrition — at least we know what the curve looks like. We can let go of nightmares of it spreading to his brain, or lungs, or anything else. And Meg and I agreed that the devil you know is much less scary than the devil you don’t.

So now for some pleasant thoughts: Koko devoured 1/2 can of food before we left Madison; he had been fasting since 10 the previous night and by golly he was going to get some food! We fed him in the parking lot of the vet’s office, and he wasn’t even distracted from his can by the squirrels. Well, not much — he did look up at one as if it might be worthy of pursuit, but then shoved his face back in his can of artificial processed squirrel. He then had a nice post-Thanksgiving doze for the rest of the way home. We finally arrived at 9pm, after stopping off for dinner at a rest stop on the way (ick).

This morning we marveled at how much better he was than a week ago. He was walking all around the house, crying for his food, and then trotted over to his food dish to eat — no meals in bed today! And he went into the litter box of his own accord and did his business. Just like a normal cat.

These have been rough times, and we’re still loath to part with our dear fuzzy friend, but Meg and I agree that right now our attitude is more of gratitude and thankfulness that (a) we’re getting this time with him when we thought that maybe last week WAS his last week; and (b) that we’re doing everything we can so that there are no lingering doubts about what we “could have done.”

D’s right, in that we are grateful for our time with Biscuit right now, and that we’ll never regret doing all we can do for him in his illness.

He’s been quite spunky today, and if we can get this tumor to stop for a while, I know Biscuit will want to hang around with us for as long as possible. He is such a good, good cat.

Did you know he loves Bobby Darin?

One thought on “The Cancer Cat Chronicles: Madison

  1. Wow, I missed this entry somehow. I love that both of you are such thoughtful and clear writers. I have a sense of sharing the trip with you, hearing The Talk, watching the sweet cat devour his food…

    You two are something special. I hope the trip is going well.


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