Sunday, 9 February 2014

Poorly Parsley

Earlier this week, our world fell apart.

Just a week shy of his 3rd birthday, our beloved Parsley has been diagnosed with Lymphoma. For those that don't know, this is the most common form of cancer in cats, and tragically, there is no cure.

Here he is, the poor darling:

Parsley has always been a bit of a fussy-fusspot when it comes to eating, unlike his brother, Basil-the-feline-dustbin... so when he first was off his food, we weren't massively worried. He seemed lethargic as well though, so we booked him in at the vets to be safe. Of course, we assumed it was just another garden-smack-down induced infection of some description... so a quick injection, another £80 down the drain, job done. Sadly, that's not how things have panned out.

Our lovely vet, Catherine, thought that his kidneys felt a little large, so booked him in for a blood test. This showed that indeed his kidney function was not normal, hence him feeling like crap, because of all the toxins in his body his kidneys weren't filtering out.

Next step was an ultrasound, during which Parsley had to be sedated, as he was shouting so much that he was disturbing the image. Why oh why am I not surprised at that... since early kittenhood, he's always had an extraordinary set of lungs on him, and no fear of making his opinions known.

Now, here comes the shitty bit. The scan showed up tumours, on his kidneys, and his lymph-nodes (no, I don't know what they are either). A subsequent biopsy showed it was indeed Lymphoma. I'm afraid words like tumour, cancer, chemotherapy, and talking about my baby's life expectancy in terms of months rather than years, made for a rather tough phone call, and I can't say I really took it all in.

On Thursday evening, we were able to go and visit our little one, and have a discussion about our options. Of course, all the nurses had totally fallen in love with him, the soppy tart that he is. I don't think I've ever known a more indiscriminately affectionate cat than our Parsley. He'll take a tummy rub off anyone.

Here he is, on a drip and feeling rather sorry for himself (and furious with us of course), though he does have a nice ham to look at:

Given how young he is, our vet thinks he has a good chance of responding well to chemotherapy, so we've elected to go ahead with that. Of course, unlike with humans, you can't explain to a cat that they're going to feel like absolute shit, but it's for their own good. In light of that, chemo for animals is much more based on quality of life, and so they're given a much lower ratio dose of the drugs than you or I would ever receive.

If he responds well to the treatment, we could offer him perhaps even a year or more of good quality life. If he doesn't respond well to the treatment, the kindest thing will be to let him go. This will be the most heartbreaking decision we've ever had to make, but we have to do what's right for him.

After the first dose of chemo, I'm pleased to say his kidney function improved rapidly over night and the vets felt it was ok for us to bring him home. I suspect Parsley's incessant shouting was also upsetting the other inpatients by this time, given that I could hear him yelling in the background of every phone call.

Here he is at home yesterday, looking rather ridiculous with all his shaved patches, but at first seeming surprisingly well and perky:

I'm sorry to say this didn't really last, he seemed increasingly listless and lethargic, was refusing all food, alternating between hiding in the wardrobe and clambering onto our laps whenever we sat still for a moment. Not what we wanted to see. So, he's back to the vets today (Sunday), and hopefully they can give him something to help with his appetite. It's most likely the chemo drugs making him nauseous.

So, here we are, devastated but coping, and hoping for some good news from the vets tomorrow.

I think the hardest thing for me is how soon this has come upon us. As anyone who knows me or has read this blog will know, I have been dreaming of having cats since I was a little girl, and had to wait until I was 26 to get these guys in our lives. Now that I finally have them, Parsley is being snatched from us after only 3 years. I'd expect to be dealing with this kind of thing in 5 or 10 years, but not yet, not now.

We know he's in the best possible hands, the guys at Stortford Veterinary Hospital are fantastic, and have been more than supportive. It's early days for the chemo yet, so we shall be keeping everything crossed, and hopefully our little man will be with us for a while yet.