Please Help with Surgery for Blue

Dear friends, let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to read this, especially during this busy season and beyond. Although I've supported others in GoFundMe Campaigns in the past, I never thought I'd be asking for help, but as can happen, it's my turn. Blue and I really need your help. 

I am reaching out for your help for Blue, my silver tabby, with whom I’ve lived for 6 years and who needs surgery for a life-threatening condition called acromegaly, which I will describe below.

Many of you know Blue already, but even if you don’t, I can only say that in the years I’ve lived with him, he’s seen me through so many things and I not only love him but feel as his person I owe him a chance for life.

If you know me, you know how seriously I advocate for the well-being of all animals on this blue planet of ours. As for the ones who come to me individually through rescue and adoption, like Blue, I also care deeply for their well-being.  In other words, Blue and his brother, Eddie,  are my family.

I am grateful that Blue came to me during a hard time in my life. Even as a kitten he had a special and loving way of greeting me in the morning by ever so gently reaching out his paw and softly touching my cheek. If I’m sitting in meditation, Blue sits beside me and when I’m done we walk out of the room together. Until recently, Blue has been a happy and gentle soul. But in August of this year, I noticed something was amiss; he was suddenly gaining weight, drinking more water and seeming to be ravenously hungry.

At the end of August, as I suspected, Blue was diagnosed with diabetes and I started giving him insulin, twice a day. Apparently, when cats get diabetes, it can be reversed with insulin treatment and so I was hopeful that would be the case. However, over these past months Blue has been showing insulin resistance and as the dosage increased, so did the level of my concern to find out why he wasn’t responding. I was soon to learn the reason.

About 10 days ago (early December) my fear was realized. Blue had a CT scan at Tri-Lake in Winfield and it showed he has a tumour growing on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located near the center and bottom of the brain. It produces a number of critical hormones that control many parts of the body, including several other endocrine glands.

It’s a condition called acromegaly (humans get it too). While there are two “management” options (medication or radiation), there is only one cure and that is surgery to remove the tumour and the pituitary gland.

To date, this relatively new surgery for animals, ominously called  transsphenoidal hypophysectomy, has an 86% success rate.  Although there can be complications—for example, some cats do not wake up at all from the surgery—this operation is his only real chance for a cure. The other treatments (medication or radiation), as I said, are “management” options, not a cure.

So far, there are only two places on the planet where the surgery is being actively done: one is a clinic in the UK (a bit far) where the surgery was developed and the other, somehow miraculously, is at the veterinary teaching hospital at Washington  State University in Pullman, Washington, which is 6.5 hours by car from where I live: http://vth.vetmed.wsu.edu/specialties/small-animal-surgery/pituitary-surgery

 On Thursday of last week, I spoke with the Dr. Tina Owen, the surgeon for the veterinary team at the clinic after she had received Blue’s CT scan results from Tri-Lake and she told me that because Blue is so young (he’s 6.5) he has a good chance not only of survival but of a cure and a good life, even though he will need medication for the rest of his life to compensate for the loss of the pituitary (after the removal of the pituitary and the tumour, the diabetes somehow gets resolved). Without the surgery, however, Blue’s life will not only be cut short but it won’t end well. I can’t let that happen, at least not without trying.

 And, so I’m turning to you for help in funding the surgery, which has been estimated at $10,000. Yes, you read that right.  I'm trying to raise at least half of that amount since all of the tests he's had already have amounted to nearly that. The GoFundMe donations will be go towards his surgery and after-care at the clinic.

After the surgery Blue will also need care in the  Cat ICU, as I said and, likewise, once he’s back at home at Tri-Lake in Winfield. I’m going to do as much as I can financially but I sure could use your help as I’m committed to giving Blue the best chance he has.

 As I said, Blue has already had a CT scan at Tri-Lake and with the help of Dr. Meg Scuderi, the endocrinologist, we got the referral to the teaching hospital. The plan is that at the clinic in Washington, Blue will have another CT scan as well as an echocardiogram and blood work. Following the surgery he will be in Cat ICU for about 4 days. I intend to drive him to the clinic for the surgery on February 4th and he will be admitted to the clinic on the 5th for tests and surgery will be performed on February 7th. After the surgery and his time in ICU, I'll drive down again to pick him up the week of February 12th, which is reading break here and get him home afterwards. I’m asking the weather and the road gods as well as Saint Francis and Gertrude, the patron saint of cats, to smile upon this journey. For the rest, I’m asking you for whatever help you can give.

 I’m really grateful if you’ve read this far and also if can see your way clear to helping, even if just a little. It all helps, even to wish Blue well.

 The vets are calling themselves Team Blue and I love that. They, and their assistants (such as Kelly at Tri-Lake) are truly dedicated to helping him and to working closely with me. I’ll be posting updates on Blue’s journey over the next while.  

Thank you, again. I wish you the very best for 2018.

Jodey and Blue

 What it is: In the beginning before it’s even diagnosed: acromegaly is a slowly progressive disease that affects many organ systems and nearly always results in diabetes mellitus that is difficult to control with standard insulin therapy regimes, which was the case with Blue. Simply, what acromegaly means is that the pituitary gland is producing growth hormones when it shouldn’t be. Uncontrolled diabetes and secondary diseases such as renal disease, heart disease, and neurological disease are ultimately the cause of death for more cats with acromegaly.  For those who want to know more: http://zimmer-foundation.org/sch/csf.html

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Organizer

Jodey Castricano 
Organizer
Kelowna, BC
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