My darling kitten's breast cancer is back.
Actually, it's been back for a while now...but when it came back, it could be found in the same spot, in another mammary gland, and possibly in a few other places. (Her pupils are slightly different sizes, it seems like she has a bump on her head, and she wheezes.) By the time I found it for the second time, I was no longer looking at a cut-it-out-and-pray situation anymore...maybe just a hope-and-pray situation.
I had been forewarned. When she had surgery to remove her first cancer last August, the results told me she had cancer in her lymph nodes (putting her at stage 2 of 3 stages for cats). And here we come to Regret #1: I waited.
I found Annie's cancer while I was in the middle of my own breast cancer year. Though I don't remember the specific date, I knew I found it after my own bilateral mastectomy, after I had already begun chemo, and after I was already bald. (This puts me somewhere after the middle of May of last year). At that point, her breast cancer was more than I could really bear...and taking her to the vet, explaining my own baldness, my own cancer, and feeling like garbage while doing it - well, emotionally, I couldn't handle it. And so, Regret #1: I waited...probably somewhere from 2-3 months, until 3 weeks after my last chemo when I felt like I could handle the news, and handle taking care of her through whatever we needed to do.
Recovery from her first surgery was no picnic, even though she recovered fine. It certainly was not as easy as our veterinarian had intimated it would be....but it was a big surgery, and in a place that was not so fun (right under one of her front legs). I told her (and Bill, who paid for the surgery...) that we would be done with surgery now.
That is Regret #2: surgery (but I'm confused as to what I really regret.)
Working in a veterinarian's office, I saw people who went to the ends of the earth to treat their pets' cancers. I could never understand putting my pet or any animal through things like surgeries or chemotherapy just to keep them alive for a short period of time. I promised (in my head) that I would not do that with my pets...that I would help them be comfortable and safe for as long as I was blessed to have them. Here is where I am confused over Regret #2: should I have not done it in the first place (she's only had an extra 11 months)? Or should I be regretting not doing more of it, when I found the cancer the 2nd time? I went with my gut and said "no more surgery", but I regret that. And yet I still regret the first one.
Anyway, what's done is done, and what's left to do? My Nanners is slipping away. Her purrs are coming less frequently. She isn't writhing with joy anymore. There is blood from her tumor on the end of my bed, on the chair I used to nurse Katie and Nathan (now Annie's chair), on Nathan's car bedspread. She doesn't always like to make it to the bathroom anymore. (The rug in the kids' bathroom has worked just as well, twice. So her litterbox will move.) She vomits. She is eating a diet of almost 100% cat treats - anything to keep some weight on her. We've moved her water bowl upstairs. Crazy Hope spends most of her time outside or in her crate, to avoid potential chasing scenarios. I lie down on the floor near her several times a day, just so she can crawl up on my chest and I can gently touch her. I pray for more purring.
And today, in just a few minutes, I'm taking her to the vet. I'm praying for a few more comfy weeks, for some miracle of science that will give her some comfort before our final goodbyes. Wish us luck.