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Archive for the ‘Treatment’ Category

cytology on the fluids drawn from Petey’s chest last week confirms what we suspected — the lymphoma is back.

But, we’re not giving up yet. Regulan is helping with Petey’s nausea, so he’s eating a little better and has a little bit more of a spark in his eye. Of course, getting the liquid Regulan into him is no treat; I’m wearing almost as much as he’s ingested 🙂

Drs. Petey and Gil consulted with a couple of oncologists, and have come up with another protocol that might work. So, we’re going to try a lomustine (CCNU) protocol. One treatment every 3 weeks for 4 cycles, to start.

It’s a rescue drug with all the rotten side effects you’d expect, but it’s worth trying.  At this point, we’re happy to still be in the fight.

Keep a good thought for my boy.  He’d do the same for you, if he wasn’t a cat!

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Petey made it through the night and is home, doing Petey things again.

The e-vet pulled a pretty good quantity of fluid out of his chest, and he rebounded pretty quickly. So, we picked Petey up this morning and sat in Dr. Gil’s parking lot until the office opened.

Dr. Gil did a thorough exam, took some Xrays, and couldn’t find anything other than a slightly enlarged mediastinum. Since that’s where Petey’s cancer originates, it’s obviously a cause for concern.

For now, we’re watching and waiting. We won’t know for sure if the cancer is out of remission until we get lab results on the chest fluid. We have no way of knowing if or when fluid might build up in Petey’s chest again.

So, we’re just cuddling, napping, and eating chicken.

 Thank you all for the kind words, warm thoughts, purrs, and prayers. They’re soothing to me, and I know Petey feels them too.

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From the time Petey was first diagnosed with lymphoma, up until about two weeks ago, pilling him was a fairly straightforward endeavor.

 I’d wait until he was really sleepy (or occasionally, dead-to-the-world), scoop him up, clamp him between my knees, pop the top of his head open and throw a pill down his throat. Just to make sure he swallowed, I’d blow on his nose and rub his throat a little.

For the most part, this worked. About once a week, he’d spit a prednisone for distance. Or, I’d realize I missed his mouth entirely and dropped the pill on the carpet.

But, Petey got healthier 🙂 and stronger. 🙂 A healthy, strong Petey may possibly be the most stubborn animal on the planet.

So, pilling Petey got more complicated. Now it took two of us to corral him. This usually entails chasing him around the living room, gradually decreasing his escape path. Finally, one of us pins him, scoops him and carries him off to the kitchen.

Next, it took two of us to actually pill him: One to hold the thrashing, slippery cat. The other to try to throw the pill far enough into his mouth so he couldn’t spit it out. All while Petey is screaming, and throwing his head around like a bucking bronco.

We tried burrito-wrapping him. We tried a pill shooter. We tried Pill Pockets.

After one particularly disastrous attempt at administering the appetite stimulant (cyproheptadine), Beloved and I were left bleeding; Petey was distraught and foaming at the mouth, with a pill stuck to his head.

I gave up, bursting into tears at the torment I was visiting upon this poor little cat, whose life I only wanted to make better.

And then we learned about compounding pharmacies and transdermal medications. <Cue the chorus of angels.>

Transdermal prednisone has changed our lives. I can now once again just scoop Petey up any time I like, sit him in my lap, and just rub a premeasured amount of pred cream into the inside of his ear. He loves having his ears rubbed, so he never fusses. And, he knows he’ll get a couple of pill-less Pill Pockets when we’re done.

No one bleeds. No one froths. No one cries and mutters “Fine, go ahead and have cancer. See if I care.”

I’ve heard from multiple sources that the quality of the compounded, transdermal meds can vary from prescription to prescription. But, I figure that if Petey is getting even 1/2 as much medication as he’s supposed to, it’s more than he was getting when he wore the pills on his head.

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With the administration of the last dose of doxorubicin he’ll ever have to receive, Petey has reached his first significant chemo milestone. He’s done with weekly treatments. 🙂

Feel free to stand and applaud.

It’s been a long six weeks, and at the same time, it passed in the blink of an eye. Time sure flies when you’re sitting on the kitchen floor, coaxing a reluctant cat to eat something. Anything.

Petey’s weight is holding steady at 10.5 lbs, which is at least 1 lb under where I’d like him to be. But, he’s happy. He’s peppy. He’s bursting with love. And trouble. There’s always trouble when Petey’s in the house.

Chemo continues, of course. But now Little Lord Fussbudget gets a full 13 days to recover from one treatment, before going in for the next. This should give him lots of time to eat and torment the Lilikoi.

It will also give him time to get stronger and feistier — something I’m not so sure the lovely, talented, and compassionate vet techs will really appreciate. They let me know that Petey was an easier patient when he was sick. Now he screams and yanks his paw away when they try to insert the catheter for his IV. Not that I can blame him for that one.

Still, I know they’ll keep a towel handy to drop over Petey’s head when they load him into his cage. Because in Petey-world, if you’re under a towel, no one can see you.  

 I wonder if that trick would fool my boss…

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Get your mind out of the gutter! There will be no nudity on this blog (unless Drs. Gil and Petey shave more of my boy’s pretty fur).

I’m suggesting a Petey Q&A. Many of you have asked questions about feline lymphoma, Petey and his many moods. Of course, he can’t actually answer any of these questions because a) he’s a cat; and b) he’s not a very smart cat. So, I’ll do my best to satisfy your curiousity.

If your question isn’t answered here, post it in the Comments section or email it to me at alfagee1@gmail.com. I’ll do my best to answer all questions in an update.

Q: You said Petey has mediastinal lymphoma, but what exactly is a mediastinal?
A:
The mediastinum is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity. The heart, the esophagus, a bunch of lymph nodes, and some other important stuff are all jammed in there. Petey’s variety of lymphoma affects the lymph nodes of the mediastinum.

Q:  What are Petey’s chances of recovery?
A: 
From everything I’ve read, and everything Drs. Gil and Petey have told me, lymphoma isn’t something that’s really cured. But, it can go into remission for a good long time. Most of the literature says that median survival time is 5-7 months, with a 30% chance of surviving one year. Anecdotal evidence points to much longer survival times with aggressive treatment. And believe me, treatment doesn’t really get any more aggressive than what Petey’s getting.

Q: How long will Petey be getting chemo?
A:
Short answer: At least a year. The protocol he’s on runs about 26 weeks. Petey’s got one more weekly treatment, then he’ll drop to every other week treatments for another 6 or so treatments. After that, he goes to once every 3 weeks for another 3 or 4 treatments. Then he’ll have another 6 months to a year of maintenance treatments. Of course, this all assumes that the stubborn little beast will start eating better so he’s strong enough to tolerate all these funky meds.

Q: What’s with all the bacon references?
A: Prior to getting sick, bacon was Petey’s favorite food. Like chew off your leg to get to it favorite food. These days, his favorite food changes on almost an hourly basis. Earlier today, it was Pounce chicken and cheese treats (something pre-lymphoma he’d rather bury in the litterpan than eat). Right now, he’s all for Thanksgiving Day Dinner, from Merrick Pet Foods.  It’s a pleasant departure from the past week’s stinky fish fiesta.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Keep those questions coming! Petey is always happy to oblige his fans.

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Now, for some questions from Petey’s fans:

Becca asks: What is Petey’s favorite song?
A:
Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. Whenever I’m massacring this song on Guitar Hero III, Petey runs over to sing along and try to touch the notes on the tv screen. Either he really, really loves this song, or he’s trying to put it out of its misery.

Meet the Mets, Eat the MetsBecca asks: How does Petey feel about the Mets chances this season?
A: Optimistic. The addition of Johan Santana is bound to help that shaky starting rotation, but he’s still concerned about the bridge to Billy Wagner and the abysmal hotdogs at Shea.

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Many of you have asked if Petey has to continue his chemo, now that he’s in remission. The answer to that, sadly, is yes. The boy still has many weeks to go on his initial protocol. When that’s done, he’ll likely be on some maintenance protocol for an indefinite period of time.

The chemo doesn’t seem to realize that Petey is in remission. This week’s treatment is kicking his small furry keister. Not quite as bad as Week 1 (may nothing ever be that bad!), but bad enough.

This week’s chemical cocktail featured Doxorubicin, aka Adriamycin, aka Chemical Kool Aid. It’s a brightly colored red-orange medication that’s so toxic, it can rot away the skin and leave wounds that just won’t heal. Oh, and there’s only a certain amount that can be given during an animal’s lifetime, or the heart becomes damaged.

So, is it any wonder that Petey is less than perky this week? Late Sunday into early Monday, food was the enemy again. We remedied that with bacon-roasted chicken (something Petey can never resist) and a little magic pill called Cyproheptadine. For those of you not up-to-speed on the care and feeding of cancerous kitties, that’s an antihistamine that stimulates the appetite in peckish pusses.

It also makes Petey very, very yappy. Like, follow me around all day meowing/screaming yappy. It’s unsettling since he normally just meeps, purrs, and makes weird little baby tiger sounds.

Today, we’re past that. Le Petit Prince has decided to eat his regular dried food — one nugget at a time, dragged out of the bowl and carried over to the carpet. <Insert eyeroll here.>

But, Petey’s mopey and lethargic. And that we hate. By we, I mean Beloved and I. The Lilikoi enjoys days like this because she can settle into a good nap with both eyes closed.

We’re hoping to return to our regular manic programming soon.

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If you’ve been following along, you know that Petey has been doing well. He’s turned back into the little pain in the keister he’s always been. The kitten in the 5 year old cat’s body. 

I’ve spent an awful lot of time this week yelling “PETER. Knock it off.” And then feeling guilty about yelling at a cat who has cancer.

Well, forget the guilt. I can now yell at Petey with impunity. A sonogram and bloodwork performed yesterday confirm it: Petey is in remission.

His heart is perfect. The lump on his chest is gone baby, gone. And his lymph nodes look like whatever “normal” lymph nodes are supposed to look like. His bloodwork: Equally perfect.

 In Dr. Gil’s professional assessment, there is “No evidence of disease.”

The best words I heard all day.

 Now excuse me while I go yell at Petey, with a clear conscience, for throwing his sister Lili down the stairs. Again.

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