I have been dealt quite a blow these past few weeks. My emotions have run the gamut. Perhaps I should step back and explain a few things.
I originally started Drix in the city tumblr as a way to talk about my experiences in San Diego, to possibly post pictures of my cat looking at the buildings, and so on. Mostly it was going to be about my constant companion, my cat Hendrix. To this point, I have not done a very good job.
Three months ago, in early June, I felt three small lumps in Hendrix’s right rear leg. I immediately became concerned and went to the vet. The vet expressed her concern that they might be a product of a vaccine associated cancer. She wanted to perform surgery to remove the lumps. I admit I was hesitant to jump into surgery. I think maybe if she would have said “biopsy” I might have been more willing to have an immediate surgery.
Instead, I waited. I waited until September. By that time, the small pebble feeling things in his leg had grown to several centimeters. I knew that it was going to be something bad. I scheduled an appointment for surgery, brought him in and was called by the vet two hours later. She called to tell me she did not want to perform the surgery because the growth increase further cemented her belief it was cancerous. She performed an aspiration (stuck a needle in it to get some cells). A week later she called to tell me the results of the aspiration were “inconclusive” and that there were “abnormal cells” and that cancer often breaks down the cells resulting in inconclusive readings.
She encouraged me to go to a specialist immediately.
I met with a surgical and radiation specialist a few days later. They felt Hendrix’s lumps, measured them, and told me that because of the growth pattern, the growth rate and the location, they believed the lumps to be Feline Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma.
When I asked what causes this cancer, these specialists could only tell me that it was something in the vaccine. As a law student images of cases in Tort law ran through my head. How can this be? How can a manufacturer of a commonly-used vaccine put a product out that is known to cause cancer?
I spoke with the specialists, who told me of my options. The options were: 1) aggressive radiation with a surgery removing the growths or 2) amputation of Hendrix’s leg. Option 1, even if the surgeon got “clean margins” Feline VAS is very aggressive (another blogger has referred to it as “the Monster”) and the chances are very high (think 99%) of the cancer returning. This would mean that every few years I would have to deal with this, Hendrix would have to deal with this. Amputation on the other hand only has a 25% chance of the cancer returning.
I knew my choice. I don’t like my choice. I have no other choice. I have to have his leg amputated.
I still have to have tests run to make sure that the cancer has not spread its evil roots to an area beyond where a vet can amputate.
The hardest part is not the fact this is going to cost me upwards of $5500.
The hardest part is the fact that Hendrix is not in pain. I can touch his leg and it does not hurt him (though he does take a swat at me in normal Hendrix fashion—for touching somewhere other than his head and neck). He is going to have to go in for surgery, have his leg removed, and have no idea why.
He is going to be missing a leg and not understand. His life will be forever changed and he will not know why.
My only hope is that he knows it is because I love him dearly.