Max Goes to the Vet


I have put off writing about Max’s vet visit(s) because these past few months have been filled with stress, worry, and a lot of tears that I haven’t felt like revisiting. A billion scans, tests, visits, and one surgery later, we finally had our test results.

Max’s lump was cancerous.

To have our worst fears confirmed was absolutely devastating to hear. I think I may have cried for three straight days and even now, just thinking about it is enough to send me down a rabbit hole. I know there are people out there probably rolling their eyes wondering how and why a person could get so upset about a kitty, but other mamas of furry babies totally get it. Max is our baby. He’s our family. The thought of him being in any sort of pain is difficult enough, but to think about him not being around when he’s only just turned seven is even harder.

Max sailed through his surgery and recovery, but it has taken me the past few weeks to really process the information and come to terms with the diagnosis. After getting past the initial shock, Sly and I probably researched and read every single article we could find on Max’s type of cancer. The pathology of his lump was consistent with a very rare form of soft tissue sarcoma (STS) which is frequently seen in older dogs and humans, but hardly ever in cats. Information has been hard to come by and because it’s often misdiagnosed, somewhat unreliable.

Hearing the word “cancer” when applied to someone or some furry friend you love is never easy, but we have a few things on our side. For one, we caught his cancer very early. It was given a Grade 1 (lowest grade) with a low mitotic rate (likelihood of it growing/spreading is low) and according to the lab results, it was removed with clean margins and with no tissue intrusion. All of these are good things and are generally associated with higher survival rates and a lower chance of recurrence.

TL;DR: If you’re going to have a “bad cancer” (as our vet put it), then this is probably a best-case scenario.

Even so, we still aren’t celebrating just yet. We still have a lot of questions and are still researching if there is anything further we can do at this point. Because so little is known about how this cancer behaves in cats, and because cancer is by nature unpredictable, we really have no idea what to expect or how to proceed. Our concern right now is that his cancer will return, at which point it will likely be more aggressive and more difficult to remove.

There’s no way we can know if and when cancer will reoccur and/or what the future holds for Max. It can feel overwhelmingly infuriating and frustrating at times – like knowing there’s a monster locked behind a door that can pop out at any time. So we are taking it day by day, just like anything in a life where there are never any guarantees and where the future is uncertain. For now, we remain cautiously optimistic and full of hope that we’ve gotten through the worst of it and that Max will live a long and happy kitty life.

Max is an extremely empathic kitty. He’s the first kitty to sense when something is wrong or to comfort us when we are upset so instead of being sad and mopey all the time, I have been focusing on being present and happy — for Max. Approaching this with “love not fear” as they say.

We have never been the type to take for granted our time with loved ones, with our kitties. This is especially true now. Our time together is more precious, more treasured than ever. Our already super spoiled, insanely adored, kitties are even more spoiled now (yes, it’s possible). We have showered them with healthy treats, a bunch of new toys, lots of attention, but most importantly, lots of love.

PS: For anyone looking for a good/emergency/walk-in vet in the Daegu area, we went to Hyundai Animal Hospital. You don’t need an appointment to see the vet (walk-in), they can schedule most procedures same day, and there are English speaking nurses/staff. The prices are comparable to any US vet, although they usually give you a discount (Korean style) if you have a bunch of stuff that needs to get done. We thought our vet was very thorough and took the time to sit down with us and go through the microscopic slides of Max’s lump to explain what was going on. We have rarely been given that level of detail with our vets back in the States. One thing to note is that their opening hours say 9-7, but actually the front desk opens at 9:30 and the vets usually arrive around 9:45. 

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  • Christine
    January 31, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Ugh…no. I’m so sorry to hear this news. Sending love to you guys and extra cuddles to Max ♥

  • veronika
    January 31, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Thanks luuuuuhhhhdeee, Max needs all the love and good thoughts he can get. Hoping for the best but more than a “little bit nervous.” 😐

  • Lynn
    February 1, 2018 at 1:58 am

    So sorry to hear that, but hoping for the best and his continued recovery! We lost both of our kitties four years ago (within 2 weeks of each other). It was horrible and I have yet to bring any new furry babies home because my heart still aches.

  • veronika
    February 1, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Thanks for the good wishes, Lynn, and so sorry to hear about your furry babies! We have lost several kitties to cancer over the years, though they were much older, and most recently, we lost our Maine Coon when she was just four years old. It never gets easier, and every time, I tell myself I’ll never be able to love another kitty again because the heartbreak is too hard. It’s been nearly seven years since we lost Sabine, but I still grieve for her loss.

    Max walked into our lives unexpectedly. It was right after Sabine died and we weren’t even thinking of getting another kitty. I was moping around at the pet store adoption cages, poking my fingers into kitty cages, and I found Max. Or Max found me. I asked to hold him and when he immediately fell asleep purring in my arms, I knew he was ours. It felt wrong in a way to adopt a kitty so soon after losing one, but in another sense, I felt loving another furry baby was probably the best way to honor Sabine’s life.

  • Kevin
    February 1, 2018 at 11:15 am

    I believe it’s a really good maybe.

    Keeping Good Thoughts…

  • veronika
    February 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t like maybes. 😬

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