Lucas' Story





November 10, 2003 we received devastating news: Lucas turned out to suffer from lymphoma.. A beautiful Siamese, not even 2,5 years old with a fatal disease, as a loving owner you feel as if the ground disappears from under you.

The symptom urging us to pay the vet a visit was a sudden severe difficulty to breath. An x-ray showed us there was hardly any lung capacity left, the heart was completely invisible and his wind pipe was being oppressed. This could point to fluids in his chest or a tumor, or both. A lung tap was being performed and viewed under a microscope, it showed cancer. A sample was being send to pathology, they confirmed the diagnosis: Mediastinal lymphoma.
2 weeks prior Lucas got chin acne causing him to scratch his head and neck leaving bald spots. He got a prednisolone injection for it but there were no other alarming signals at the time.

Chemotherapy was a possibility, this type of cancer often responds well. We had to move soon though. 3 days after diagnosis we started the ĎCOPí protocol, performed by our own veterinarian.
Lucas received a weekly IV with vincristine at the hospital, along with every three weeks cyclophosphamide tablets and daily tablets of prednisolone.
The first day he was pretty nauseous but already the next day his breathing had improved considerably.

Eating was a bit of a problem at first, if you donít feel well your appetite decreases anyway, but the chemo can also influence your smell and taste. Since a catís appetite thrives on taste, one can understand that getting him to eat is quite a hassle. Especially since taste can differ, one week they appreciate fish and you can get them going with that, after the next treatment they can decide fish isnít their cup of tea and you will have to try something else. The large assortment in catfood can be helpful in situations like these, but most importantly: the bond you have with your cat. A cat that wants to please his owner, is with love talk and encouragement often to pursuade to take a bite, and another one and another one.. It worked with Lucas :)
The first week he lost 250 grams of bodyweight, which wasnít a real problem as he was a bit overweight. The next weeks he stabilized and his appetite slowly returned.

December 3, 2003 we went to the hospital for his fourth treatment and an x-ray to see what the situation was after a month of treatment. Even though I could tell that Lucas was doing well, I was very anxious for the outcome.
The x-ray brought us very good news, the tumor looked gone! His lungs had completely cleared up, his wind pipe was in it's normal place again and not pushed aside, his heart was very clearly visible, everything was OK!
Whether the tumor is completely gone or just minimized we don't know, so he will be getting maintenance therapy.
December 10, 2003 a full blood panel was drawn, everything was fine and the frequency of treatment has been reduced to chemotherapy every 3 weeks, prednisolone daily will be maintained. The frequency might be de- or increased again depending on development.

When I heard his diagnosis November 10 and chemo was considered an option, I didn't hesitate one second. If there was a possibility for him to lead a quality life for a certain period of time, no matter the outcome, I just had to try, for Lucas but also for myself. It was the right decision, with (at least for this moment) a wonderful outcome.

I would like to share this because a lot of people (including vets) think treating is no use, or that the side effects of the chemo cause unnecessary suffering for the animal. Fortunately most of the time cats (and dogs) hardly suffer any side effects with chemo, they also donít lose their fur. Sometimes they lose their whiskers, a few hairs on their ears or around the neck, but thatís usually it. Personally Iíd much rather have a cat with bald ears than no cat at all :)

We have received a lot of support from friends and acquaintances, but also from total strangers on the feline lymphoma list. Experience from others is so important and helpful. And letís not forget: a wonderful vet!

Although I know it is a personal decision for everyone whenever facing a situation like this, I would like to say: You never know, until you try...

Davis University in California does research in locating the possible genetic factor that they suspect in (young) Orientals suffering from this disease. A DNA sample from Lucas has been sent to contribute to this research. After all, as long as it is not proven to be genetic, it is also not proven NOT to be genetic. We will therefore monitor his family with extra caution.

When we show, we always have Lucas' story present on our showbench to educate people about this disease and the possible treatment. Lucas is a fine example of how a cat can recover from lymphoma but there are many others that have too and lived long quality lives and had fine show careers afterwards also.

NOTE: February 4, 2004 Lucas received his last chemo treatment for now and after  a maintenance dosage prednisolone for a while, we have now stopped everything. All is well and hopefully this may last a while. When necessary, we will start treatment again.

Shirley

ďEnjoy life while you can, for it slips away all too soon.
Live, love and be happy.Ē