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.