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Maceo Cat's Cancer Journey

Jul 07

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Friday 7/7/17

We started giving Maceo Turkey Tail mushroom. Today, we were able to get in 1.5 capsules (750 mg) of Turkey Tail, and 2 scoops of Transfer Factor, which also contains Turkey Tail among other mushrooms as part of its immunity blend.

Total supplement intake:

  • 750 mg Turkey Tail mushroom
  • 2 scoops Transfer Factor
  • 200 mg IP6
  • 100 mg curcumin longvida
  • 1 tea pill of Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan (bupleurum), prescribed by Dr. Lisa Pesch

Total food intake:

  • 4 blocks of Primal Chicken & Salmon — 180 cal
  • 1/4 cup homemade chicken bone broth — 20 cal
  • 1/4 cup Origen kibble — 20 cal
  • 1/4 cup raw pureed chicken liver — 50 cal
  • Spoonful of grain-free canned food
  • A couple of treats

Total calories: 270 cal

It’s been two weeks since we discovered the tumor. Yesterday, we saw a surgical oncologist, James Farese, to talk about surgical interventions for Maceo’s tumor. He recommended getting radiation first, so we are proceeding with the UC Davis appointment on Monday, but we also called the Veterinary Cancer Group of LA to have a backup and get a second opinion, given the extremely negative reviews of the Davis clinic.

He seems to be ok. He has been going out on the harness and leash for multiple hours a day, sometimes walking, other times just relaxing, and he even slept in the bed with us again the whole night. He didn’t just stay in his “sick chair,” the place where he goes when he’s unwell.


In the meantime, baby Charlie seems to be feeling bad.

Yes, he is also a black cat. But unlike Maceo, he is goofy, clumsy and generally very clownish. He also has very mild cerebellar hypoplasia which makes him extra silly when he’s excitedly running around, and sometimes his back legs slip out from under him.

He started vomiting (multiple times) and generally seems to not feel good. We took him to a completely useless vet — Especially Cats Veterinary in San Francisco — yesterday for his wrist, and the only thing that came of it was 1) he got carsick and threw up in the car, inside his kitty backpack carrying case, and 2) we were told that by the vet that she had no idea, couldn’t successfully do a needle aspiration on his wrist, and that we should go and see an internal medicine specialist at VCA.

I’m not sure if I just have had too high expectations for how much veterinarians should be able to tell you, but I’ve been so disappointed every single time. We’ve taken Charlie twice to SPCA, once to an expensive dermatology specialist, and now once again to this cat-only clinic, and his foot issue is completely unresolved. We don’t even have one speck of knowledge more, and nothing close to a diagnosis. I guess it’s time to take things into my own hands with Charlie as well.

His wrist is so swollen that it looks like a boot. He’s drinking lots of water, willing to eat, but then vomits again. Poor thing.

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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.