Dogs, Cats and Other Phenomena

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Callie's Health

Thursday morning, Dr. Malo called with the final results of Callie's biopsy. Melanoma. I was amazed. I didn't know cats could get melanoma. He said it wasn't a "hot" cancer but not one of the better ones either. Plus, since it's located in her nose, he didn't know what choices were available to us. He referred me to All Care. Been there, done that, with Mignon who eventually died of lymphoma. So I called All Care and made an appointment for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Callie and I went for her appointment, but I bet it was harder on me than her. One, she has no idea that she has a malignancy and two, it was all too much déjà vu for me. I kept telling myself that it wasn't possible that I was back there again, this time with Callie. The staff was very kind to me during Mignon's year-long illness, but still .... And the waiting. Endless hours of waiting.

We saw the oncologist (naturally he did not remember me) and we talked about treatment. Melanoma is treated best via surgery but this was in her nose, so possibly radiation would be the way to go. Surgery is more effective, however. I could have saved costs by not running more tests, but I felt it was best to know if it had metastasized or not, so we'd know exactly with what we were dealing. He kept her that afternoon and did X-rays. He wanted to keep her overnight so they could do the MRI first thing in the morning, but I said I'd rather take her home. I knew she'd be far happier that way and less stressed. The doctor kept insisting that I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. and that I could not be late. OK, I said. And then I was to return at 1:30 p.m. to talk to him about the results.

Saturday - Woke up at 4:30 a.m. Ugh. Not even 5 hours of sleep. Got Callie to All Care a few minutes before 5:30 a.m. I still had to wait! I didn't get out of there until almost 6:15 a.m. Drove home, stopped for gas, tried to crash for awhile, then had to get up and get ready for Nikki's 9AM training class. Threw Nikki and myself into the car (no small feat) and rushed over to PetsMart. Got there late, which stressed me out. Nikki was highly excitable so it was an interesting class. I broke out in a sweat. Actually, I always do when I take her to her training class, something which surprises the trainer, I think.

I had scheduled an appointment for Nikki to be groomed for the first time. I was surprised to hear that it would take almost 2 hours. I had to leave her there and go home. I crashed again. Ate a quick lunch and dashed back to pick her up. Took a few pictures of her there and at home. Then I crated a very tired Nikki and raced back to All Care. And then I waited.

Callie's MRI Results - The oncologist brought me into a conference room. He began to explain how small the slices were that they had taken. I had seen my friend Robert's MRI of his head (and believe me, the human head, especially the eyes, looks so weird) so I wasn't too taken aback by Callie's MRI. In fact, Callie's MRI was much easier to look at than Robert's had been. The doctor pointed out Callie's brain and began to explain the various views we were looking at. My stomach was in knots. He hadn't started off with the conclusion, so I was imagining the worst.

Luckily, the cancer has not metastasized. However, the tumor is located in a bad area - her nose. The oncologist, with all of his years experience, has NEVER seen melanoma in a cat's nose before. Oh, great. Callie is a test case. Not what we needed. Normally, you lop off the tumor and you're done. But this is her nose. If we do surgery, the doctor informed me, she'll be badly disfigured. She will lose her nose, her beautiful, charming little nose. Her adorable nose with the white stripe dividing it will end up looking like a pig's snout. Because of this, the oncologist wants to email another doctor to get a second opinion about the course of treatment - surgery or radiation. He is hoping that she has had experience with this type of cancer in this location before. This will probably take up to two weeks to get a response, but since the cancer is a low-grade melanoma, it will be OK.

I'm seriously considering getting a third opinion somewhere. I want to save Callie's life AND preserve her face, if at all possible. If any of you feel comfortable contacting your vet, maybe you get feedback for me about Callie's condition. If your vet knows of a cutting-edge oncologist in my local SoCal area, please let me know ASAP. I have only about 2 weeks to try to figure out what I'm going to do for my little girl. Thanks!

After the consultation, it was back to the discharge room to wait for them to release Callie. I waited so long that I almost finished the novel that I had started yesterday in the waiting room! (I did finish it later that night.) They couldn't find the cat carrier so this delayed things quite a bit. Finally, Callie and I were out of there and we dashed home. I was happy to see that they didn't have to shave her tummy after all. Then, I immediately dashed back out as I had a 4:45 p.m. appointment - happily, for a much needed massage.

A busy day. I bet this is how a soccer mom feels when you have several kids you have to ferry about!


  • What I have to say isn't going to make you feel any better. My beautiful Charcoal has a little scab on her nose that just won't heal. The doctor thinks it is melanoma and has a biopsy schedued in two weeks. They will do surgery if we want but told us that would mean removing her nose, and then she wouldn't be able to smell. If she cant smell...they said she won't eat because she wouldn't be able to smell her food. They wouldn't suggest radiation either because same thing: it would hurt her sense of smell, and if she can't smell her food, she won't eat.

    I'm as broken hearted as you are, even though I don't have the definitive results yet, the doctor seemed pretty sure. She's been my baby girl for thirteen and a half years and I don't know how to not have my Charcoal!

    Good luck with your sweet Callie!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:04 AM  

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