Two weeks before Mark and I were scheduled to leave for our trip to Africa, our cat Mittens developed some diarrhea and vomiting. She had been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease 8 years ago and has been receiving medicine for it ever since, and has done amazingly well. Her main symptom has always been vomiting; diarrhea was something new. I put her up on the kitchen counter and examined her, and was dismayed to feel a firm, golf ball-sized mass in her abdomen, which I believed was in her colon. Ultrasound confirmed the presence of a colonic mass, plus some enlarged abdominal lymph nodes. I’ve been doing this for years. I knew what this meant.
Fortunately, she was still acting normal and eating well, but she was straining to defecate. I wanted a definite diagnosis, but the mass was in a location that was risky to aspirate. Based on past experience, I made a presumptive diagnosis of high-grade lymphoma.
Lymphoma usually responds to chemotherapy, so I opted to treat. I left her in the very capable hands of my friend and colleague Dr. Peter Soboroff at New York Cat Hospital, for 17 days, not knowing if she would respond to the treatment or continue to decline.
According to Dr. Soboroff, Mittens has responded dramatically well to treatment, to my great relief. Her diarrhea resolved, her appetite picked up, and after three doses of chemotherapy, he reported that the tumor has noticeably shrunken in size.
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Soboroff for the skillful and compassionate care that he gave her, updating me frequently and sending me photos while I was on the other side of the world. Mittens has always been a sensitive cat who gets scared and irritable at the vet, but the photos showed her to be calm and comfortable. Heartfelt thanks to technician Justin Lee, who IM’d me with updates and a few photos, and special thanks to my own wonderful technician, Hiromi (of Manhattan Cat Specialists), who visited her and told me how relaxed and happy she looked, and then sent me a photo to prove it. I left for this trip worried that I would have to rush back from across the globe to say goodbye to my dear sweet Mittens. Instead, I was able to have a fabulous, worry-free trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, and come back home to a strong, happy cat. I am truly blessed.