The past couple of days, ever since I discovered Sally’s lumps, I have been filled with anxiety. When I wasn’t working, I was scouring the Internet for the tumor that most resembled Sally’s. None of them seemed to quite fit. So I had decided the lumps had to be malignant and she has only a few months to live. I lie awake in bed last night, crying, with Sadie curled up next to me, purring loudly and providing comfort. As I lie there sobbing, I realized this was not all about the kitty. It was about my father, now with his third bout with cancer. He’d beaten the first two, testicular when he was in his 30s with four small children, and colon when he was in his 70s and we were all grown up. Now he’s in his 80s, and I fear this current cancer diagnosis will be the one. I also was grieving for my eldest brother, who died in April. I’d been holding it all together, behaving rather stoically, as people in my family are wont to do. But last night, I lost it. And all those unshed tears spilled forth. It was quite a cry–the ugly kind when your head fills with snot and you can’t get a breath. And through it all, Sadie lie there curled up next to my head, purring. Sally, whom I was convinced was dying from a malignant tumor, was nowhere to be found.
I went to work this morning, late and puffy-eyed. I focused on the task at hand, burying myself in my work until it was time to head home and meet the vet. She makes house calls, which I love as I hate to traumatize the kitties by making them ride in the car, which is nearly as bad as the destination. The wailing on the way just breaks my heart. So I found a vet who makes house calls.
Shortly before she was to arrive, I locked both kitties in the bathroom–the examining room. The vet was 8 minutes late. I stood outside pacing, willing her to arrive. It took her eons to park her truck and make her way to my front door. But then she was here, and we went upstairs to the bathroom. I cracked the door, and Sadie looked up at me. I let her run past. Sally was cowering behind the toilet. I picked her up, and the vet came in and put her bag down on the counter. Then she began stroking Sally as I held her. I could feel the tension leaving her fluffy little body and I set her down on the counter. The vet began stroking her, looking for the lumps. She found the big one right away, on her back, near her tailbone. As she examined it she told me she saw nothing so far that upset her at all. The lumps weren’t crusty, they didn’t seem to hurt Sally, and they were covered with fur, which meant she hadn’t been picking at them. Okay, so far so good.
The vet then took a syringe from her bag to do a fine needle aspiration. Sally lie very still while the vet took tissue samples from various parts of the growth. She then transferred the sample from the syringe to a slide and labeled it. She then took another syringe out of her bag and repeated the process with the second lump. She showed me the material on the slide, and she said she saw nothing there that concerned her. The next step was for the vet to go out to the lab in her truck and examine the slides under a microscope. She told me the process would take about ten minutes. After she went out, the anxiety reappeared. I paced and wrung my hands. I imagined it was taking too long. I imagined the vet was composing herself before bringing me the bad news. I sat on the steps by the front door and tried to take deep breaths.
The door opened.
It turns out Sally has lipomas–benign fatty tumors that are more common in dogs. Which is why I had ruled them out in my Internet research. More common in dogs? She doesn’t have a benign tumor, then. She’s dying.
The lesson I learned today? Never research medical conditions, in pets or people, on the Internet. It’s just a bad idea.
I also learned I have some grieving to do. And I have two fluffy, healthy cats to comfort me while I do.