Cancer, Death, and Other Depressing Shit

Welp, the biopsy I mentioned last time came back with 95% certainty: low-grade lymphoma. I think that means “small cell lymphoma” but will find out more when I meet with the veterinary oncologist today.

It’s strange. I’ve known for years that Zephyr was probably going to get cancer eventually, that lymphoma was high on the likelihood list, but it was a real shock to my system. I am walking around doing stuff, working on work projects, trying to meet my personal deadlines (like the Monday Maxim, which is so not happening today) but I feel raw, like all my nerves are exposed. I’m dazed.

Also strange: Zephyr seems, if anything, to be doing better since the diagnosis. His appetite is up, his mood is up, he’s more interested in hanging out with me than in sleeping on his cat-bed by the window. So you’d think I’d be cheered up.

But the thing is, there’s this little growth on his small intestine, only a centimeter and a half long, and it hurts him (we give him pain mediation twice a day) and messes with his digestion, and will probably kill him. He has no idea what’s going on, he just knows I keep dragging him to the vet, and making him take meds, and that he feels kind of crap. I feel bad I can’t explain to him what’s going on, that I can’t ask him what his wishes are.

I hate not knowing how long he has.

He’s twelve. It’s not young, for a cat, but not old by my standards. Still, Mauser was eleven when I had to put him down, so you’d think I’d be used to it. Nope. I grew up with cats who lived into their late teens and even early twenties, so that’s what I expect. Anything else is unfair, not right, tragic.

I finally realized that I’m grieving. I expected to have at least a couple more years with him, with this needy, clingy cat with inflammatory bowel disease who loves to eat things that make him sick (like pepperoni), who cries at night when things change too much for his liking, who likes to sleep between my ankles or in the crook of my knee, who purrs like a motorboat when he’s happy. But I don’t. I don’t even know how little time I do have.

Some cats with lymphoma live as long as a year, even more, with decent quality of life. Others react badly to the chemo medications and fade fast. I have no idea which camp he’s going to be in, and probably won’t know for weeks.

At least today I’ll get more information, start the process of deciding among my options.

Anyway. If I seem uneven and out of it online, that’s why. He’s been with me since he was just a couple months old, and now I have to nurse him through this. It’s taking up a lot of my mental bandwidth. I’m trying to stay normal, and sometimes succeed, but not always. I apologize in advance if I come across as flaky. I just have a lot going on right now.

Time for a post-noms nap
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