MC7201
My beloved 16 yo Tonkinese cat was diagnosed with Large Cell GI Lymphoma on July 3. It's a long story, but the vet convinced me to go to the oncologist and get chemo. I didn't want to do anything heroic, but I'm open minded. So I listened. And the oncologist said that for this disease, they have a "gold standard" protocol called CHOP Therapy. It involves three chemo drugs given one time each week and prednisolone given each day by pill. They said they achieve remission in 50-75% of their cats with this disease and that less than 10% have side effects ("cats don't experience the same side effects people do - it's much milder"). I researched this independently and there was a lot of data that confirmed this, both in terms of side effects and remission. I started out by saying, I didn't want to do anything for ME, but rather what was right for HIM at this stage in his life. I was assured by the vet and the oncologist that he was a good candidate. And this was expensive. Probably $5,000.

So after considering it, I agreed to try it but wanted to stop if it wasn't working or there were serious side effects. I basically became his primary care giver in animal hospice at home. After his first treatment he improved. After the second he improved too. They said his tumor had shrunk by 50% and he was in partial remission after just three weeks. But he continued to decline. He ate less and less. They gave Cerenia (anti-nausea) but it wasn't doing the job.  He would barely eat. And I had to bring water to him to get him to drink. He was hiding under furniture and this was nothing like his personality. When he stopped eating completely, I brought him back for an emergency visit. He was down to 6.25 pounds. They gave him sub-q fluids and a B-12 shot. He felt a bit better, but was still not eating. Next day I was back and they gave fluids again. The oncologist gave him a drug called Elspar which is a powerful cancer-killer and it acts fast. He said if it works we should see improvement in 24-48 hours.

That weekend was awful. They said I should syringe feed him through the weekend with a rescue food. Seemed to me he felt pain when he was eating. He was so weak. They had scheduled me again on Monday but I told them enough. He didn't want to go to the vet. He was crying out in pain. They told me there was really nothing more that they could do and that he must have had a particularly aggressive form of the cancer. In the end, I decided on in-home euthanasia and I was able to give him a very peaceful death in his own home. My biggest fear was that I would end up in the emergency vet in the middle of the night with him and they would have to do it there in crisis and anxiety. Thank god that didn't happen.  

So in retrospect, I feel it was the right thing to give the chemo a try - because the statistics told a good story and I was told that these cats can live 6-12 months with good quality of life with chemo. However, with no treatment, they say average term to death is 2-4 weeks from diagnosis. I am now playing devil's advocate - coulda woulda shoulda. Should I have just done prednisolone? Should I have stopped chemo sooner? What did I miss? 

But now my heart is absolutely broken. I cry every day and miss him so much. I gave him the best life a cat can have and wanted to give him the best death. Now I don't know if I should have tried more, less, or did the right amount of treatment. But in the end, I could sense very strongly from him that he was telling me he was suffering. I'm lost. 
Quote 0 0
CassieL
I am so sorry for your loss. You listened to the professionals and tried to give your cat a chance of recovery. Do not second-guess yourself. The decisions you made were out of love.

Our 15 year old fur baby Sam was diagnosed with a sarcoma tumor on his lower jaw on Wednesday. This is an extremely aggressive cancer with the only treatment being removal of the entire lower jaw which would require a feeding tube. Cats do not normally do well with this procedure. Instead we will be doing palliative care at home with me being his hospice nurse. He is only in mild discomfort right now, but is having difficulty eating and is eating and drinking less. We will be starting pain meds today. I am also giving him electrolytes by IV daily, a specialized high nutrition pate and have everything set up to mouth feed him with a syringe. I have even been feeding him lunch meat by hand to try to make sure he is not starving.

The end will be soon for us and I am making arrangements with a vet who specializes in hospice and home euthanasia so that Sam will have a peaceful passing at home surrounded by those who love him. I have never had a pet with a terminal illness before and did not realize I could experience grief that is so profound and consuming.

Again my deepest sympathies on your loss as I truly understand the toll it takes on us as a pet parent who is a caregiver and the final goodbye we must say to our friend.
Cassie LeMasurier 
Quote 0 0
MC7201
Thank you so much for your kind words. This has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I keep trying to resolve whether I did the right thing, or should have tried other treatments, another vet visit, another vet, etc. What I am truly grateful for is the chance for him to have a peaceful death in his own home, with us beside him. That doesn't always happen. 

I'm so sorry about your kitty. I agree with your decision. The treatment you describe is not quality of life and palliative care makes total sense. You get to plan how this goes, and you are keeping him from suffering. I encourage you to consider keeping a "quality of life" log for each day. It helped me as I went back and looked at the scores over the last few weeks. They weren't good, but it was easy to forget those and move forward on hope. 

Thank you for your kindness. Incidentally, I found the services of Lap of Love (nationwide) in home hospice and euthanasia to be very good, as was their resource pages on their website. If you don't already have one in mind. 
Quote 0 0
Dogfather
Take a look at this treatment.  Its new and it works. Radiogel.com   

Quote 0 0
Roe
I feel as you do.  My almost 15 year old dog was in kidney failure and I had her euthanized . I have played a guilt trip for 3 weeks and regret not bringing her home .  I am now realizing she was old and her age was against her and she would of eventually started to suffer.  As you did the right thing to spare her suffering because you love your fur baby.  Just think of the good loving home you gave her . We have to stop feeling guilty because I know how it can tear us apart . At times, my mind don’t shut off and i torture myself with guilt, memories and reminiscing. Please hang in there and keep visiting this site .  It is comforting to share so many stories . We are not alone . 
Quote 0 0