GeorgesMom
Hello, this is my first post.  My cat George was just diagnosed with a splenic mass which turned out to be mast cell cancer.  I'm beside myself.  We kind of found it by accident, the vet took an x-ray for something else and there it was.  So far he doesn't seem to have any symptoms from it yet.  I saw an oncologist and they gave me some options, but they say it doesn't happen very often so can't really tell me how cats generally do with any of the options, or how the options compare.  I can do surgery and have his spleen removed, with or without chemo, I can do chemo only, or I can do palliative care.  They say cats tolerate the chemo very well.  He's an active 15 1/2 years old.  I love him and am having a really hard time deciding what to do.  I want to do something, but I'm scared if I do surgery I'll cut his life short if he doesn't survive the operation.  I'm also scared if I don't do surgery and he dies quickly I'll regret not doing it.  I just feel paralyzed, scared and sad.

Can anyone else tell me about their cats if they had internal mast cell cancer and what their choices were and what happened?

Thank you so much for listening
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Memories_of_Marmalade

Dear George's Mom,

Firstly I am very sorry for what your beloved cat George was diagnosed with and what you are having to cope with. It was wise to come here and join this forum. There is a World of good information and research here and many kind, compassionate, understanding and supportive people who post and comment here.

In my case, our beloved cat "Dusty" did not tolerate chemo well. And many have posted here who's cat's also did not fair well on chemo. Some had it administered and it helped for some time and than it wouldn't help. You can search on the forum here under "Cat chemo" and various posts should come up that you can read and research by. You can read case by case what occured.

I wish that I had sought out and discovered this Grief Forum before I made my decision. It was very thoughtful and courageous of you to come here and seek advice.

I have sadly found that at the end of a pets life MOST Vet's and Animal Hospitals will recommending prolonging treatment simply in order to cash out. They can make a quick $1,000 to $4,000 quite often by doing so, which adds up. They feed off us pet parents worry, anxiety and guilt. We spent $4000 on chemo for Dusty (she was 18 years old however), and she did not fully recover and all that it did was end up hurting her worse it seemed. It was a mistake to try and save her. 

As you may know a cat is only biologically designed to live 2 to 5 years in the wild and/or out on the streets. The fact that George is already 15 1/2 is remarkable, even though "forever" would not be enough time with your beloved.

In my case my boy (a cat named "Marmalade") was deteoriating from various health issues and I could simply not allow him to further detoriate. He was becoming a shadow of his former noble self. He had some kind of mass in his intestines which was never property diagnosed amongst other issues. He was believed to be around 11 to 12 years old. We weren't certain as I had adopted him when he was an older stray / feral cat.

He hated going to the Vet's / Animal Hospital at the end and being handled by strangers and prodded, poked, examined, examined and having procedures and tests. He was fighting his Doctor and nurses tooth and nail. He had enough of medications. He had 2 surgeries. There were complication with both (in one they either cut a key nerve in his face / nerve damage or he had a stroke on the operating table) and he was not healing well from the 2nd one. In the end the Vet said to me "I can try and save him" but that was not enough. It was not worth the risk to put him through even more with no guarantees. I had to take his pain and suffering and transfer it onto myself when I had him put down. I had to absorb his pain and suffering and process it through my grief, and I am still doing so to this day.

I read the same quote from 3 different Vet's (1 in the U.S. and 2 in the U.K.):

"Treat one thing and it triggers something else."

So that is something else to take into consideration.

This is obviously a very, very personal decision. Sadly one that only you as George's Mom can make. I am glad that your and George's paths crossed when they did all those years ago and that he is in safe, capable and caring hands. All cats should be so blessed.

We are with you now in comdradeship and spirit. I'm sure others here will be chiming in shortly and will share some of their experiences and advice. I hope that George feels a little better and that you are gentle with yourself too.

Kind regards,
James
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GeorgesMom
Thank you for telling me your story and your support.  I'm so sorry you had to go through that.  Can I ask what surgeries your baby had?  That's where I am right now.  My George has bladder stones, and they originally said let's not do surgery, but since he has the stones, they said we should do surgery and take the stones and the Spleen at the same time.  I'm scared surgery will kill him, but on the other hand right now he is relatively healthy and I worry if I wait for another crisis he will be even less likely to do well.

Thanks again
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Claudia90
I'm sorry to hear your struggle.

My cat had been diagnosed with jaw carcenoma. Unfortunately, it was an agressive form and it grew, inabilitating her from eating. She was 13 years old. 
Amputation was out of the question as it afected more than 60% of her lower jaw and she would have needed a prosthetic, and rehabilitation would have been too hard and she wouldn't have made it through at her age. Chemo wasn't an option either as she was losing weight and couldn't keep feeding her with a syringe. 

I believe that George is too old to survive either chemo or a surgery, or it may affect his quality of life afterwards. If you truly believe that this might help him, give it a shot. But, if you have doubts, just take care of him. Make sure he is happy, loved and surrounded by good food and great family. Cancer is a ruthless disease and it's hard to see your loved one deteriorate from it. 
Whatever your choice is, this community will always be here to help.

The saddest moment is when the one who gave you the best memories,
Becomes a memory.

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Mdmoore
Dear GeorgesMom, Im sorry you and George have to go through this.  Cancer is ruthless as I lost baby baby girl.  It’s a very personal decision as to what you want to do.  When my baby girl was diagnosed with cancer I decided not to do any surgery and no treatments.  She was 10 years old at the time and I felt that it was the best thing to do.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’m personally glad I did because she had a quality of life until it was time for her to go.  We are here for you no matter what you decide to do.  
M moore
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Memories_of_Marmalade
Dear GeorgesMom,

The two surgeries were ear canal and dental (4 teeth removed.)

My boy had gotten into a major Tom-Cat fight protecting his girlfriend cat named "Star" and was wounded and bled out of his ear for some time, but 3 Animal Hospitals could not figure out what was wrong. They thought it might be a polyp or tumor. They never did provide a proper diagnosis even though there was a surgical procedure where they pretty much opened up the side of my lads head. He had stiches all the way from his left ear down towards his mouth. His head was shaved. It was very sad to see. And he had that nerve damage or stroke so his left eye was squinting, his left white inner lid would drop, his left set of whiskers were lifeless and his balance was really negatively impacted. He kept falling down. He fell off the couch arm once straight onto his back and looked at me as if to say: "What is happening to me?!"

As you may know, the process of being completely put under anesthesia is traumatic alone for an animal, as they don't understand what is occuring. We can also never, not ever trust a Vet when they say our beloved's are not experiencing pain. They have no idea of knowing that. Animals experience pain and side effects just like we humans do or not. And our pets are genetically programmed to hide pain or injury from others so that they are not ousted from their pack / colony and/or attacked. And they will endure great pain and suffering and not show it.

I would just watch your cat closely for any significant changes. Try and make her as comfortable and happy as possible. As long as he is not suffering. There may be some alternative medications, holisitic treatments or better quality food etc. that may help. Try and keep his stress down and show her as much love and affection as you can muster. M Moore is right. It should be about quality of life at this time.

All best regards,
James
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P_Mom
James- I'm so sorry Marmalade went through that surgery and then the damage on top of it. What a noble little guy protecting his gal pal. ❤️

GeorgesMom, while I don't have kitties, I have 2 dogs and lost my oldest boy at 15 in February.  Thankfully he didn't have surgery except two teeth removed, but did have extensive heart tests for 2 years. Non invasive, but several hours long (X-rays, ultrasounds, blood pressure, blood work etc) at a big hospital that he hated.  I too think they wanted our money every 4 months at ~$1000/visit.  Not saying he didn't need the tests, but not at that frequency.  All the while they missed his kidneys deteriorating.  

I now vow to not do that to my other boy who is 12.  I recently told my husband if we're faced with a bad diagnosis or surgery, I'm not doing it at his age.  Instead, I will do all in my power to make him comfortable and stay in the moment spending as much quality time as possible.  I'm realizing we can't hold on to them forever and we often go overboard to try to keep them with us, at their detriment. I feel now age is the most important factor, along with health condition, and of course impact of surgery/ recovery and prognosis.  A 6 or 7 year old is much different than 15.  Unsure how cat age converts to human years, but for dogs that's pushing 80. Thinking about it in those terms may help. 

It is a deeply personal decision. What does your gut tell you?  I find it's usually right, even if our mind doesn't want to align. Again, unsure about cats, but are there alternative/holistic treatment options?  My boy was also on potent arthritis medication that contributed to the kidney damage. I'm now looking into CBD oil for my 12 yr old should he need arthritis meds.

Sending love and strength your way as you face these decisions. Sending love and healing thoughts to George. ❤
Jennifer
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GeorgesMom
Thank you so much Jennifer, I really appreciate hearing your experience and choices.  Thank you for sending your support and encouragement.  I have really been leaning toward no surgery if they can get his bladder stone cleared, but if they can't clear his bladder stone I would have to decide what to do tomorrow and I really feel like he's still so healthy and full of life I shouldn't let the bladder stones take him away from me.  It's just awful, ironically, it isn't the cancer in this instance that is causing the problem, that's why it's so hard to think about.  
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GeorgesMom
I would like to thank everyone who is giving me information and sharing their thoughts and experiences.  I'm new and having a little trouble figuring out how to reply to the individual posts, but I'm grateful and reading all of them.
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P_Mom
Paws crossed they can get the bladder stones cleared for your baby ❤️
Jennifer
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GeorgesMom
Well, unfortunately, George re-obstructed so I'll have to decide on whether or not to do surgery tomorrow.  Since it's emergent and either he has it or I will have to put him to sleep, I'm leaning towards doing it.  The Vets at the animal hospital think his health is generally good and he is unlikely to die under anesthesia.  It's so frustrating and hard to get answers.  I know it's my decision, but I expected there to be more statistics and guidance.
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Memories_of_Marmalade
I'm sorry to read that. I hope George feels better soon.

It's truly a "possibly damned if you do" but "absolutely a damned if you don't" situation. As I wrote I opted to go through with the 2 surgeries to try and help my boy to try and save him. But I would not have administered Chemo to him if that was needed and it was long term. 

In the end we gave it our best shot. He did his best to pull through and recover. But his health continued to detoriate and he could no longer eat or drink at the end, and was going to need to be rehydrated. He had just had enough of visits to the Animal Hospital / Vet's as I wrote. He was becoming a "science experiment" as a fellow member "Jackie" here once wrote about her beloved cat "Milo."

It's personal call. A roll of the dice. But at times cats DO recover and do benefit from surgeries and changes in medications. And holistic treatment can help too. But as P_Mom wrote, age is such an important determining factor too.

I send good and healing wishes to your boy and pray that the surgery goes well if you proceed with it. 

We are with you in comradeship and in spirit.

All best,
James
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GeorgesMom
Thank you James. 

I'm so scared, I feel like no matter what I do it's wrong depending on how I look at it.  I went to see him today and he was full of energy and life.  He was purring, wanted to walk around and jump down off the bench.  He wanted forehead kisses.  It seems my only choices are this surgery or putting him to sleep and I just can't do it.  The vet said if he were lethargic, not eating, depressed looking we would be having a completely different conversation.  She said she felt like it was worth a chance since he was eager to walk around when they were watching him, purring, hungry, etc.  She said if they called his name he would follow them.  I just feel like he is not ready to go.  It's going to be hard physically, emotionally and financially, but I can't see what else to do.  Of course he could still pass after all this effort, but at least I can give him the best chance I can.   I'm so blessed that I can try, I have never seen prices like this.  I think vet charges have gone up like crazy. 

Tomorrow they are doing his workup to make sure he is a good candidate.  The only thing really in question is they discovered a heart murmur that is new, but they said cat's sometimes have stress induced heart murmurs.  Now that I'm set on this course, I don't know what I'll do if he can't have surgery.  I guess I can ask them to remove the catheter and see if it'll work this time, but it blocked so quickly I'm afraid it wouldn't work.  Otherwise, I wouldn't do the surgery.

Thank you so much for listening to me.
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Memories_of_Marmalade
I'm very happy to hear George is up energy-wise and eating. That is good news! For him to be active and hungry!

It is important to keep in mind that cats can purr when in distress. Marmalade's purrs were the loudest I had ever heard, but he could not eat nor drink. And he would shriek when I approached him with a tiny piece of fresh deli turkey meat or when I opened a can of cat food. But if your boy is eating?? that is a super--good sign. As long as he is eating and purring that combo means there is still hope.

May God be with you and George and show great mercy whatever decision you make, but we will all be pulling for your boy to have a good surgery and a healthy recovery!

Hugs,
James
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