Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Dare we celebrate this good news?

(Posted by Mewomie L)

Timmy's oncologist just called me with the histiology report from Timmy's tumour, and the lab technicians have declared clear, good margins all around the tumour i.e. they are confident that it has all been removed just by surgery! Hence no radiation needed as there is nothing to radiate!

I am absolutely dumbfounded with a cautious happiness (if that makes sense). Almost everything I have read has stated that surgery and radiation are almost always needed to deal with Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (FOSCC) effectively because usually there is 'spread' and it is quite rare to be able to cut out the whole tumour. However, the report says that in Timmy's case this is what has happened, it was quite 'compact'.

I questioned the oncologist and asked were they sure, and do they not need to do the radiation as a precaution and she said that there just isn't any areas showing as needing radiation. I stated that I had read about the surgery/radiation combination being most effective, were the doubly-sure? She said that the lab techs, herself, the surgeon and the lady who owns the cancer centre (Britain's top small animal oncologist) had all looked at the results and were sure radiation wasn't needed. Were they triply-sure...? she laughed and said yes, it is rare to get such a good result with oral surgery and SCC and she can understand my disbelief.

Obviously, she cautioned that FOSCC is THE most aggressive cancer going...and all it takes is one teeny-tiny invisible-to-the-eye Timmy is now under regular observation, as it could come back...statistically a 25-30% chance of returning. So he has a check-up in 3 weeks, they will knock him out and palpitate everywhere, and then he needs to go back every three months. If they are concerned about anything then they will run him under the CT scanner.

Thanks to all our friends on the Blogosphere for your continued support, as many of you know, dealing with this sort of thing is hugely stressful for us humans too and just knowing that there are people who understand is a relief in itself!

I am so relieved, but still very cautious, it is FOSCC that we are dealing with afterall....So, please keep your fingers crossed for the old boy and hope the nasty cancer really is gone!

Love from Meowmie L

Monday, 28 September 2009

Timmy is home

Timmy came home on Saturday afternoon..he has quite a big wound where Mr Henri (the surgeon) removed the tumour. Timmy's face was also quite swollen too...but he was glad to get home, he purred so much and seemed very happy to be back on his cushion.

I greeted Timmy with lots of hisses, whacks and general growling and grumpiness - much like I did with Stormie when she was away at the vet place for a prolonged period of time. I hate the smells they bring back with them so much! We have made friends again now though, the hissing stopped this morning and tonight we have been hanging out together. Kind of. The Meowmies laugh at me when I get mean, they think it is so hysterical cos I am such a soft, loving cat, so on the rare occasions when I am mean it is in a rubbish, gentle, non-threatening way.

Timmy has to wear a big Elizabethan colour cos he keeps scratching his stitches - he already pulled one out just before Meowmie collected him! Mr. Henri said that it should be ok though and the wound should heal. The problem is, Timmy rubs his face on the inside of the collar, which aggravates a tiny bit of the wound, so it is always 'wet' cos he knocks off any scab that gets formed. We need this wound to heal so we can get Timmy into the radiation part of the programme in about 10 days time. We are also concerned that the wound not healing could make infection an issue - but Tim is on Synolux antibiotics to help ward of any germs.

All-in-all Timmy is doing well. Timmy has been doing his toilets, playing, eating and washing and also trying to bite me and cajole me into a game of chase - so he can't be feeling that uncomfortable in the mouth area!

Thanks for all of your well-wishes!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Timmy's Surgery

Timmy had his surgery today...all went well, no nasty surprises. Phew!

The tumour was 1.5cms wide, quite small apparently. We were 'lucky' in that the tumour was easy to detect cos of it's location on the cheek, hence why Meowmie caught it early. Normally oral cancers start off under the tongue or somewhere that you wouldn't normally notice until the tumour is fairly big and has already invaded bone structures, this is why it is important for a vet to regularly check your pet's mouth.

The surgeon said he shaved the surface of the jaw bone a little, as the tumour was quite close to the bone. The surgeon feels he got good margins around the tumour in general but he remained cautious about the jawbone area, but he said that the forthcoming radiation should now 'hopefully' deal with any remaining cells they might not have been able to see and remove.

So, that is Step One far so good...we are really am taking this one day at a time as cancer is so unpredictable and although Timmy has been given this chance, we are still dealing with a particularly aggressive of the worst.

When Meowmie called the cancer centre just now they told her that Timmy was up and bout, eating and occasionally meowing at the other very vocal siamese cat that happens to be in there having the same treatment today. i reckon Timmy might be telling him to shut up! Timmy is actually a very non-vocal cat and it appears that he only meows when this other Meezer starts kicking off! Timmy loves to whap and nip, so maybe he is frustrated that he can not get to this other cat!

I am missing Timmy a lot, I have been pacing and looking for him and yowling is a small taster of my behaviour this evening...

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A Decision Has Been Made

(posted by Meowmie L)

Today has been a proper rollercoaster, which i have ridden before with Stormie. i have questioned people with experience of FOSCC, myself, my vet, the oncologist...i just wish i could question the most important one of all...Timmy.

Despite the huge odds against Timmy, the oncologist called this morning and her first words were "Well I have some good news!" It seems the tumour has not affected the bone yet, so the surgery required would be minimal and affect soft-tissue only. This would be followed by 4 doses of radiation over a four week period. It seems Timmy has been given a rare chance.

I have had numerous conversations with my vet and oncologist today , and due to the fact that Timmy is in excellent health, we have caught things early, the cancer is not invading the bone and it has not spread anywhere else, recovery from surgery should be pretty quick...apparently it is not much more invasive than when he had his biopsy, which he recovered from within a day or two. My vet also called the oncologist and after the conversation reassured me that if Timmy was her cat that she would proceed with the treatment too, given all the circumstances (if it had involved removing any jaw bone she said that she would probably not go ahead with anything).

The radiation may irritate his mouth a little, but it is a short 4 week course and only one dose a week - not an intensive protocol - involving just a 2 hour stay at the vets each time. any side effects will be 'local' to the cancer site i.e. no nausea etc. the tumour is not big so the hole won't be huge. Tim will not be disfigured in any way at all and will not have future problems with eating, drinking, washing etc (should all go well). this was one of my major concerns.

The biggest concern is that the wound will irritate Timmy and put him off eating, but the oncologist is pretty confident that the wound will cause no more irritation than the biopsy. If however it does irritate him and he won't eat, they can pop a feeding tube in for a few days until he is healed, at least getting nutrition in to him - sounds hideous i know, but a very easy and common procedure. And then of course there is also the concern that the cancer could come back....there are no guarantees. If this happened then nature would take it's course, i would only try for a cure the once.

Unexpectedly the odds are in Tim's favour, he has been given a slim and rare chance according to both my vet and oncologist - they rarely get to see cats where the tumour has not yet affected other parts of the face/body or started impacting on their health, these tumours do not show up usually until it is too late - in Timmy's case the location and size of the tumour make treatment worth a go.

i have beaten myself up over this today, sought advice from all sorts of quarters, asked a hundred questions on feline cancer forums and we are going to give Tim the chance. I really was accepting of the fact that i was going to let him go this morning...yesterday i had chatted things over with my vet and Meowmie J and we discussed the options and we all kind of agreed that the ONLY way surgery would become an option is if by a miracle the oncologist called up with really positive news and said Timmy had a good chance of surviving...which she did this morning...Timmy has been given an 80% chance of long-term survival if the treatment is successful. We think it is worth trying...of course we all remain totally aware that this is a nasty cancer with low success rates...

Timmy's quality of life will still remain paramount to us and ANY indication that the surgery or radiation has failed and he is in pain then we will do what is necessary for him. we can easily stop the process if we feel it is not working for Timmy.

Timmy is scheduled to have his surgery tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd).

Thank you all for your support and friendship

Monday, 21 September 2009

An Update on Timmy

Meowmie has just come back from the consultation at the oncologist and we are not sure we want to put my Timmy through the things described. We have three scenarios...

1) If appropriate (CT scan will reveal all tomorrow, they didn't do it today) surgery and radiation can be performed to try and achieve a cure. This will involve a feeding tube post-op for an undefined amount of time - anything from a few days to a month - depending on how Timmy recovers (We have no idea what a feeding tube entails or how uncomfortable it would be for Tim, if at all). He will also lose part of his jaw...which could make eating, drinking, washing a bit messy. Survival times range from 3 months through to a year, some cats reach 2 years...however 90% of cats don't reach a year...

2) If surgery is not an option then they can treat him with radiotherapy and chemo combo, this is not a cure but can prolong his life a little. The window of survival ranged from 2 months to 14 months, with a median of something like 170 days There is a new study which involves giving radiation treatment twice a day for 7 days, split over the course of 10 days (there are days off between some treatments). Chemo is given as well. This will involve a full aneasthetic, twice a day. Timmy has a mild heart mumur so this is not ideal at all. Post-treatment again we are looking at feeding tubes for an unspecified amount of time and possible discomfort.

3) We do nothing, just manage the illness with palliative care and concentrate on quality of life over quantity. He could be gone within weeks.

The Meowmies just doesn't know what to do...part of them thinks that he is almost 15 (in December) and we should let nature take its course, and give him quality of life. Another part loves him so much that they want to do everything they possibly can for him...but is that the best thing for him, or is that just them being selfish because they can't bear the thought of letting him go?

The options we have been given just sound as if they are going to cause him lots of discomfort - and one of those options isn't even a cure! It seems a lot to put him through when the odds are stacked so highly against him...from what the Meowmies have been reading the survival times for cats who have been treated for FOSCC are very poor.

I fink the Meowmies have definitely ruled out Option 2 and unless the oncologist phones up tomorrow and is 100% positive that the surgery will be minimal and Timmy is a great candidate for a successful outcome...then Option 3 looks most likely :(


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Some Bad News...

Well, we are not sure how to say it, so we will just be blunt...our little Timmy Tantrum has got oral cancer. It is Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma...the worst oral cancer there is apparently. Mummy found a lump on his cheek/lower jaw bone about 2 weeks ago, on his Gotcha Day, so Tim had a biopsy last week and the results came in yesterday.

There are no other signs that he has a problem...he is 100% normal, all his blood tests, xrays etc show him to be a very healthy cat for his almost 15 years of age so Caroline Vet feels we have caught it early - no other signs of illness and or spread apart from the little lump in his cheek - and she holds a little hope that it is in a location that may be ok for surgery...but she is not an expert so she has sent off all the reports, pictures, x-rays etc to a specialist small animal cancer place just outside of London to see what they feel would be an apprpriate course of treatment...if any. We hope to have an assessment back in the next day or so. Ben Vet has gone back to school to get some more letters after his name, he is the lovely vet that treated and worked miracles with Storm...Caroline Vet is his boss so Tim will be in excellent hands too.

So our question is has anyone here had any experience of dealing with this type of cancer? We have some tough decisions to make if we are presented with treatment options - if i there are no treatment options then there are no decisions to make. The most effective treatment would be surgical removal and radiation if the tumour is in a good place for surgery...but we are concerned about post-surgery health, how do cats recover from oral surgeries? Also, does anyone know of any forums which are specific to oral cancers in cats? And any diet tips to slow down cancer growth?

Meowmie L is away for a few days with limited internet access but Meowmie J is staying with us and feeding us and loving us in her absence.

Thanks for any feedback - we really appreciate everyone on the Cat Blogosphere, even if we are rarely around these days xxx

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Timmy's 1st Gotcha Day!

Hey's gone so quick. but it is a year ago today that the Meowmies rescued Timmy from Siamese Rescue! It was this time last year when I wondered what was going on in the bathroom....little did I know at the time that Timmy was living in there until such as time as we could meet.

We had an interesting dynamic to start with, a few battles, but nothing serious, the clashes were more out of curiosity than hatred for each other really. We are firm friends now...we cuddle, we eat together, we play and yes Timmy still likes to try and be Alpha Cat from time to time but I soon let him know whose boss! Storm would never had put up with some of his behaviours I can tell you - it's a good job Timmy had to integrate with me and not Stormie to be honest!

Anyways, we thought you might like to see a selection of pictures of Timmy, and a few of myself and Timmy being close. Thank you to everyone who sends us little messages from time to time, it means a lot :). Please write us a litle update about yourself if you come by and visit, Meowmie does not get time to visit all the blogs anymore. Thanks you xxx