As I blogged yesterday, today Ripley got a CT scan and biopsy of the mass that is growing in her left shoulder. The biopsy results won’t be back for a few days but the CT results were really all that were needed to confirm our worst fears. Ripley has cancer and it’s large and aggressive.
We got to look at the CT scan and it was frankly terrifying how large this thing is. In certain cross sections it looked to be taking up a full third of her body and it curves all down her left side and up over the top of her spine. It was taking up the contrast solution they inject which means blood is running through it. This both increases the odds of it spreading and makes it much more difficult to remove. In short, there is basically nothing we can do at this point.
In one respect the diagnosis left me a little relieved. I had pretty much prepared myself for the bad news and at least we don’t have to make a horrible decision between paying lots of money for treatment which would could itself cause her a lot of suffering with an unknown chance of success.
Thankfully, at least right now, it doesn’t bother her at all aside from a slight limp. She is in no pain and is still active and playing. The doctors said though that we probably have a couple of weeks before it starts to effect her quality of life. All we can do is try to enjoy the time we have left with her and watch out for when she starts to be in too much discomfort. To that end we let her sleep off the drugs this afternoon and then curled up on the couch to watch a movie this evening, with a few drinks to help soften the reality.
Well that’s certainly a nicer way of saying that you’re trying to work out just how to decide how much money and trauma it is worth putting your cat through to keep her alive.
Just before we flew home for Christmas (yes, that flight) we spotted a small lump on Ripley’s left shoulder. We rushed her to the vet’s fearing the worst but they allayed our fears, finding it was just a blood filled space, likely the result of a trauma (though what we couldn’t fathom) and blood tests showed no irregularities. They said it should shrink over the course of a few weeks. We had to put her up at the boarders while we were travelling of course but we managed to put it out of our minds and have a good trip with family.
After we got back the lump was clearly larger than it had been before we left and so we rushed back to the vet to get a second look. They were very concerned, the lump was now feeling mostly solid and spread over a large area under her shoulder blade. Although tumors in cats this young are rare they can still happen for a number of reasons and though they weren’t sure they weren’t suggesting any other options really. They couldn’t do any further diagnosis there, we had to get a surgical consult. The surgeon had basically the same opinion but wanted to do some more tests before suggesting a treatment.
Tomorrow Ripley is booked to go in for a CT scan and a biopsy to try to give a final diagnosis. This will cost us around $2k and I have to admit to feeling very conflicted. I hate to say it but a part of me is questioning how much money I’d be willing to spend on getting her healthy. If $2k is just the diagnosis then I dread to think how much the treatment could be. To complicate matters we were considering giving Ripley away to a new family as she does not get along with our first cat and they are both basically stressed out while they are living under the same roof. How much money is it worth spending on a cat that you’re thinking of giving away anyway?
I love her very much and don’t want to lose her for any reason so it feels very callous of me to be thinking like this. I guess tomorrow we’ll get some answers and have some hard decisions to make.