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Maceo Cat's Cancer Journey

Jul 04

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Tuesday 7/4/17

It’s been 12 days since we noticed the lump.

Now, looking back, it’s crazy to think that we didn’t notice it before — it’s so bulbous and foreign underneath his velvety coat. But, it’s there on the shoulder blade, sort of like a football player’s pad on top of his regular bone and tissue.

“Wow, your cat is so friendly. But what’s that lump on his back?”

Thank god that our friend Ryan, with his fresh eyes, saw something and said something. At first, we thought maybe he’d been bitten by an insect while on his daily harness walk in the back yard. That was how sudden it seemed to appear. But no, it didn’t seem like a bite of any kind.

We took him to the emergency clinic the next morning, a Saturday. After waiting and waiting, he was needle aspirated and examined. He didn’t have an infection, which only left worse possibilities. I went home with Maceo, who had been patient in his carrier for the entire 3 hour visit — half of it without me — full of worry and apprehension.

The next day, Sunday, the vet called me at 8:30 pm at night. The initial results indicated sarcoma, she said, sounding awkward and robotic on the phone. I’m sure it’s tough news to deliver. We would get the official cytology results the next day.

My heart dropped into my stomach. I never thought I would be hearing this about my most special, most intelligent and most robust kitty. Maceo was the one who fought off fleas. Maceo was the one who never got sick except for his run in with calicivirus earlier this spring. Maceo bounced back from emergency small intestine surgery after just one day. This couldn’t be happening to Maceo… yet I knew it was.

I fought off nausea and switched into action mode. I started Googling everything I could, and started making appointments. Because it was the week before July 4th, I made about a dozen calls before I got him an appointment with an oncologist in Redwood City, 45 minutes away from San Francisco where we live. I also made him another appointment with a well-regarded holistic vet in Santa Rosa, an hour and 15 minutes away, and an appointment with 5 other oncologists later that week and into the following week. I also made him an appointment at UC Davis, which couldn’t accommodate us until July 10th. Why so many? You can never be too sure, was my reasoning, and it was better to stack up the appointments and then amend them, then have to wait again.

Maceo is strong and independent, and has been eating raw since I adopted him at 8 weeks old with his bonded ‘brother’ Spike. I sent them to live with my mother in Seattle when I decided to take a sabbatical from my busy life in San Francisco’s startup scene and live in India and Bali. Maceo and Spike were 6 and a half years old at that time, and had learned the ins and outs of apartment living with me. They knew how to open drawers, freezer doors, and cabinets in their insatiable pursuit of forbidden food. I used to ask myself, is this because I’m feeding them raw, and they’re not getting enough calories? But they were a healthy body size, especially Maceo, who was dense and muscular, though soft at the same time.

Those years away were crucial to my formation, but I sure did miss my kitties and now I sometimes wonder if it was really worth it to be away from them.

Can’t take it back though, so here we are.

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