In the days since we were told of Phil's cancer, we've learned more about his condition, and how long we can expect to have him with us. We haven't learned anything from the oncologist, however; when BB called to talk to her - simply to ask some questions, because we know we won't be doing the chemo/rad thing - we were told we couldn't talk to her unless we brought Phil back in, because the oncologist would need to see him.
Another hour-plus-long drive out, with Phil in the cat cage going nuts and stressing, followed by the equally hard return trip, just so she could feel his lymph nodes and tell us whether she thought he fell in the two month range or the seven month range? We told the vet place "Thanks, but no thanks," and hung up the phone. Both BB and I were infuriated.
A few days down the line, I can, perhaps, understand why we were told that; in most cases, an oncologist expecting to continue treatment of a patient wants to see the patient. In this case, we didn't want further treatment, and the oncologist already has access to the test results, which presumably give her some insight into the amount of metastasis.
No matter. And it's certainly a matter of 'no matter' since I did some research online and found out from multiple sources (always check with more than one source and make sure your sources are far more than Wikipedia) that chemo/rad does not effect a cure; it generally only prolongs a cat's life about six months. That's six months of life with repeated trips to the vet's, multiple sedations, stress ... it's not worth it, even if we had the money.
We learned that we are indeed looking at two to seven months, with an outside chance of a couple of months longer. We also learned that we should be on the lookout for difficulty in breathing, and, of course, pain. When those things comes, so does the goodbye vet. We decided that trying to prolong his life with painkillers would be wrong. Again, because of stress in giving the meds, and the fact that they simply zonk him out, so he would effectively not be enjoying the extra time.
That's where things stand now. We are babying him as much as possible, making sure he's spoiled rotten in the time we have him. We've also decided to get another cat once Phil hits the rainbow bridge, so that Opie won't be alone. A lot of thought will go into that choice. And for now, it's going to be Phil Time (although we won't neglect Opie. He's already aware of something different, and is showing a lot of unsettled behavior that we're working to calm.
For us, calm has come, although I still find myself tearing up at moments. I imagine that will continue. Phil is My Cat, the way Alex was BB's My Cat.
So here's a picture of Phil, his poor shaved head in full view. It was a very large picture, and it's still a large picture, one reason this is under a cut.
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