In early September of 2010, my husband and I adopted Cajun, our cat, as an 8 week old kitten who had been separated from his mom at birth and brought to an animal hospital to be euthanized. Kind people refused to euthanize and a man by the name of Andrew cared for Cajun and his 3 siblings day and night until they were old enough to be homed. We both fell in love with Cajun. A sweet bundle of brown tabby fur who was fearless right from the start.
My husband, who didn’t want us to have any cats, fell hard for Cajun and the bond the two of them share is an unbreakable one. Fast forward to November of 2012. Cajun was due to have his annual exam and with no other health concerns, I happily brought him in to work with me to see Dr. Rosamund. She gave him his physical exam and found that his kidneys felt enlarged. This didn’t cause any initial panic with me as it was likely maybe a bit of an infection. Under the doctor’s advice, they took some blood and had it sent off to the lab. It was a Friday night and Dr. Rosamund called me at home to let me know that she had received Cajun’s bloodwork results. His kidney values were elevated. I asked her what that could be…she said again that it is likely an infection, but she wanted him to have an ultrasound just to be sure. I asked her “what would be the worst case scenario?” I will never forget her words. She really didn’t want to say at first, but after some prodding, she said “the worst case scenario could be that he has kidney cancer and could be on limited time.”
This shocked me, as he had been completely normal at home. Sleeping a lot, but I, like most cat owners, can easily overlook this as cats just being cats…
Of course, we agreed to ultrasound and Cajun would have it done the following Tuesday.
Over the weekend we noticed some changes in Cajun. It seemed he aged twelve years over the course of a few days. His face seemed to take on a hollow look and his appetite was down. We coaxed him and tried to tempt him with all his favourites like tuna and shrimp and even that was a struggle to get him to eat. By the time Tuesday rolled around, I knew in my heart of hearts that something was very wrong with our boy.
Dr. Hylands did the ultrasound among other tests and our worse fears were realized. Cajun had cancer of the kidneys. There was also cancer found in his lymph nodes and a mass in his intestines. Dr. Hylands had the horrible job of telling me that our baby was dying. This was a very aggressive cancer and Cajun could have around two weeks to live. The kindest thing to do for Cajun, we thought at that point, was to let him go. We spoke at great lengths with Dr. Hylands and Dr. Buller to see if there was anything that could be done. We talked about chemotherapy. Dr. Buller could not promise us anything as this was an aggressive cancer but she was willing to give it a shot.
The last thing in the world we wanted for Cajun, was to see him suffer. My husband and I talked about it and the conclusion we came to was this. We could let him go if we knew we had tried everything to save him. But I couldn’t let him go without making every effort. We decided we would try one round of chemo and see how he responded.
His first chemo treatment was on Thursday November 29th, 2012. A day I will never forget. My husband had taken the day off work so he could be nearby should things turn badly. To our delight, Cajun did well through his treatment and maybe it was just our hopefulness, but he seemed somehow brighter to me.
With hope in our hearts, we let him rest in the hospital while we went and grabbed some lunch at a nearby restaurant. With all the grief in the last few days, we were finally feeling a little happier…until my phone rang. It was my Dad. My mom had just passed away that morning.
Our world was launched into yet another whirlwind of grief and sorrow. Over the next few weeks, I was with my Dad most of the time and I had to leave the care of Cajun to my work family and to my husband.
They all did such a wonderful job of taking care of him and keeping me updated on his progress. Cajun continued with his chemo treatments and although I was warned that there may be side effects…vomiting, diarrhea….there were none. The fearless little kitten that we adopted was in there and was fighting like hell to beat this.
After Christmas, Cajun went to surgery to remove one of the masses that was blocking his intestines. Dr. Hylands did that surgery and after that, Cajuns appetite returned and he just kept getting better and better.
His chemotherapy treatments ended in 2013. After that we took him in for an ultrasound and got the amazing news that he was in remission!
Cajun had a lot of people in his corner rooting for him and my angel of a Mom was most certainly watching over him. I think about what we could have lost if we hadn’t have put our faith in the Doctors at Westbridge and in the treatment and the research that has been done in respect to feline
We know there is always the risk that it could come back, and if it does, we wouldn’t hesitate to go down the chemo road again. But right now, we are overjoyed to tell you that it is coming up to four years since Cajun was diagnosed and he remains cancer free.
Giles and Andi Lance