History & Diagnosis
In December 2008, Pumpkin was diagnosed with small cell intestinal lymphosarcoma after undergoing a surgical biopsy of her small intestine, pancreas, liver, and surrounding lymph nodes. Fortunately, there was no evidence of any metastasis to her other organs. She was 11-1/2 years old.
We first started seeing very vague symptoms several months earlier. Pumpkin began vomiting once every week or so, and her weight went from a healthy 11 pounds to 10 pounds - nothing drastic but enough for us to notice. As a precaution, we had a full panel done, and to our relief, her results were perfect. Her vomiting became more frequent however, and she also became increasingly lethargic. By early December, we knew she was very ill. Her weight was down to 8 pounds and her appetite had diminished alarmingly, yet every panel showed blood results of a healthy cat. Our vet suspected IBD or pancreatitis but cautioned that there was also a possibility of lymphoma. When both an x-ray and ultrasound showed a slight thickening of the intestines, lymphoma jumped to the top of the list of diagnostic possibilities, and a surgical biopsy was recommended over an endoscopic biopsy to ensure a more definitive diagnosis.
Two weeks after her surgery and the lymphoma diagnosis, Pumpkin was started on the following oral chemotherapy protocol:
- Leukeran: 2mg every other day (q.o.d.)
- Prednisolone: 5mg twice daily (b.i.d.)
- Mirtazapine: 15mg every 3 days (Mirtazapine is a human anti-depressant used as an appetite stimulant for cats.)
Pumpkin has tolerated this protocol very well with no side effects whatsoever, so the plan is to keep her on it for the rest of her life. She has to have her white count tested every month (actually, we do a monthly panel) because of the immunosuppressant effects of the drugs.
It's been just about one year since Pumpkin's first symptoms began to appear. She is in remission and thriving at a hefty 12.5 lbs. We know that there will come a time when her remission will end and we will have to say goodbye, but until that day comes, we will continue to enjoy the time we have with her while giving her the very best life possible.