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Dealing with a Diagnosis of Cancer

Dad here for this entry. I want to share a little bit about how I was feeling when Jerry was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and I knew amputation was in his future.

Like Jerry mentioned in his biography, he had developed fibrous sarcoma in his lower left rear leg. Talking with my vet, I learned this type of cancer is usually associated with certain vaccinations used with cats. Because of cats’ immune systems don’t react to the vaccination, the vaccinations are formulated with some metals to help the immune system to react. However, this type of vaccine can lead to the development of fibrous sarcoma in a small population of cats.

From what I’ve learned, the cancer that results from a vaccination is aggressive and the prognosis is not always the best.

However, where the cancer erupted on Jerry, we figured it was not brought on by a vaccination. My vets have a protocol as to where on the animal they will give the vaccination. The cancer erupted on the area of the foot that is equivalent to an ankle in a human. The oncologist I worked with with the radiation therapy when the cancer first showed up said he’d be extremely impressed if any vet could get a vaccination in at the site. The oncologist told me this cancer can also just erupt without a vaccination. (The cancer first cropped up right before Jerry’s scheduled vaccinations that year.)

Like Jerry mentioned, the first time the cancer showed up, we treated it with radiation therapy; the therapy was completed round about August of 2013. At that point in time, I had decided that if the cancer pops up again, I would go with the amputation. At the time, I never thought I would be faced with that decision.

Jerry had his annual physical in May 2014, and the vet saw no evidence of any problems at the site, and the chest X-ray was clear, Dr. Bob was impressed and even mentioned the word “cure”.

Not three weeks later, I noticed an open sore at the cancer site and took Jerry over to the vet. Dr. Covert didn’t like the way it looked and did a biopsy. While I kept my fingers crossed, I wasn’t that surprised that the cancer had returned.

Even though I made the decision to amputate a year before and I had no question about following through with that decision, I was still afraid of the road ahead. I was somewhat sure Jerry would do well physically, but I was more worried that his personality would change with the loss of the limb. It was through both the Tripawd and the Cat in the Fridge sites that reassured me Jerry would be just fine.

Jerry had his leg amputated on Thursday, June 6, and the office told me he came through the surgery fine. I went to visit the next day and when Jerry saw and heard me, he got up on his three legs and the vet opened to door to his cage (which was on the lowest level – floor), and Jerry started talking up a storm and was doing his leg bumps (he never really rubbed my legs, he would always swing his flanks into my leg as he passed by). He was still higher than a kite with the pain meds, but he was doing well walking on three legs – so well that he wandered over to another cage and displaced another cat who was squatting there (it wasn’t her cage either). Then Jerry just laid down as was kneading the air.

I decided to leave Jerry at the vet office over that weekend. I did this mainly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to take as good care of him and, since I have two other cats, I wanted him to rest undisturbed for another couple of days. I do have a room I could isolate Jerry in, but I knew the other two would be at the door, even if they didn’t get in.

When Jerry came home, I would spend time with him a couple times a day. During those times, I would walk to one side of the room and have Jerry walk over to me (Jerry has always followed me around the house like a dog). I would do that a couple times each visit. Jerry was wearing an e-collar just to prevent him from pulling at the bandage. I would take the collar off while I was with him.

And as he got his feet under him, he made his great escape – the first entry in his blog.

After 10 days, the collar came off, and the stitches came out. Dr. Covert was extremely happy how the wound had healed when she removed the stitches.

From that point on, Jerry was on a new adventure, learning how to do just about all the things he did before the surgery.

From a personality standpoint, Jerry is still his happy, chatty self. I don’t get quite as many head butts as I used to, but I still get some. Jerry still comes to greet me when I get home from work, and I’ve been noticing he’s spending more time in the bedroom window looking out on the world again.

I can’t believe we’ve come up to six months after the amputation already; Jerry is doing great and his fur is just about completely grown back from where we was shaved for the surgery. Jerry no longer gets any vaccinations as a precaution. This isn’t that big a problem since he’s always been strictly an indoor cat and his house mates, Tom and Gordy, still get their yearly vaccinations.


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