I’ve talked about Patrick’s cancer and his fight with it quite a bit on this blog. I also know that I’ve talked about Lucy’s miraculous journey to remission, and the fact that our cat Marmalade also passed away from cancer in June of 2018. I don’t think, though, that I have told you the full story behind our family’s battles with intestinal lymphoma (cancer).
In January 2016, I was visiting David in his new home. He had just moved from one of his parent’s owned houses to another, and I was scheduled to move in a couple of months later. Before I did, though, I wanted to bring Patrick and Lucy down for a visit so that they could familiarize themselves with the house ahead of time.
Within a week or so of our trip, Marmalade came down with a really bad virus. Soon after, Patrick and Lucy caught it too. Now, these three cats are all tabbies, and Tempest and Perdi are black and grey, respectively. But for some reason they did not catch the virus like the tabbies did.
It was an awful virus. I had never seen the cats so sick. They were sneezing constantly, didn’t want to eat, had fluids coming out of their eyes and nose, and were incredibly lethargic. Out of all three Marmalade definitely had it the worst, followed by Patrick and then Lucy.
They were so sick that I ended up having to take them back and forth to the vet with the help of David’s Grandma two or three times. The vet told us that they did have a virus, most likely feline herpes, and that it had turned into an infection for all three. They were all put on antibiotics and Patrick had to get fluids.
.Since getting this virus, which may or may not be feline herpes, all three of the tabbies have had one health problem after the other, particularly Patrick. They’ve had bladder infections, constipation, problems with peeing outside of the litter box, and Patrick had a few strokes and inflammation of the liver of unknown causes.
In January of last year (2018) David started to notice that Marmalade wasn’t eating well, was hiding, and seemed to be losing weight. We took him to a specialty vet about a half hour away from us, and he was diagnosed with large cell intestinal lymphoma, which is an aggressive form of intestinal cancer. We were told that this was due to old age. However, a few months later, Patrick and Lucy started to have emergency after emergency in regards to their stomach and bladder issues.
Marmalade passed away that June after he stopped responding to chemotherapy. Soon after this we started to notice that Lucy was losing a lot of weight and was vomiting almost every day. Patrick too had started to vomit quite often and seemed lethargic. During one of our visits to the emergency vet, the vet told us that we need to also bring in Patrick and Lucy to the specialty vet because they showed signs of small cell lymphoma and irritable bowel disease.
The vet also told us that she had been seeing other cases such as ours arise lately, where multiple cats in a household all come down with intestinal issues at the same time. She let me know that she suspects that a virus is at play.
We soon did learn that both Patrick and Lucy have (had) cancer. But we learned this the hard way with Lucy because his large intestine burst during a colonoscopy. He had to have surgery and had his cecum, the part of the large intestine that burst, removed. Later on we found out that this part of his intestine had been cancerous (small cell lymphoma) and was actually the only part of his body that was. I don’t know if this is a miracle or just an unfortunate situation though, but now he is in remission.
In September we found out that Patrick has intermediate cell intestinal lymphoma, which is a rare form of lymphoma. Not a lot is known about it, but it is generally seen as falling somewhere between small and large cell lymphoma. Patrick’s been on chemotherapy now for some time and is doing really well.
It is quite scary, though, to think that a virus may have caused all three of our tabbies to develop lymphomas within a couple of years from getting it. The truth is, though, that we know that in humans viruses can cause cancer. HPV, for example, is known to cause cervical cancer. Also, the Epstein Barr virus can lead to the development of a few different types of lymphomas in people who have Chronic Active Epstein Barr. There are other viruses that can lead to lymphomas as well both in humans and in animals.
It is well known, too, that viruses today are evolving to the point of where it is becoming difficult for us to find treatments for them and to find measures to adequately prevent them. Scientists fear the rise of superviruses and influenza pandemics as new strains of influenza appear. Also, more and more viruses that were once specific to animals are beginning to infect humans. And then we have viruses like CMV or Epstein Barr which are usually not as initially life threatening as certain other viruses but can be for some people and can lead to long term symptoms that disrupt lives, result in unemployment, disability, and put a strain on our health care system.
I wonder if we are in some sort of black plague or are heading towards one due to the rise in viruses in our world. If this is the case, I hope that scientists and the medical field are able to see it and find treatments and preventative measures to address this problem. And I hope that veterinary medicine will research the effects that viruses can have on our pets.
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