Surgery for my cat Merlin
Hi, my name is Shannon Hibbard and I am currently a graduate student in geology at Temple University. My cat, Merlin, is an indoor 10-year-old Manx breed. He is sweet and loving and makes life as a graduate student a lot less lonely and gives me something to look forward to (other than sleep!) when I get home. He started hacking up blood so I took him to the vet and, lots of $$ later, we found out he has a tumor on one of his lungs. I spoke with a surgeon and they say the lung lobe that contains the tumor can be surgically removed and he can live out the rest of his cat years normally. If I don't get it surgically removed, then he has months to a year, at most, to live. I want to get him scheduled for surgery asap; however, I cannot afford it. Surgery is ~$5500, but the surgeon is confident the surgery will eliminate the issue. I plan on calling different surgeons in Philadelphia, as well as in other states to try and find a cheaper option! Regardless, I need to raise money for this procedure and hope I can. I also plan on raising money other ways like holding bake sales.
If I do not raise enough money, then I will not be able to fund his surgery. This money is strictly for the surgery so if I don't raise enough and can't do the surgery, then you will get your donation back.
I really really appreciate all the help I can get. Thank you so much!
I apologize for my delay! My latest and final update contains both good and bad news. Let's start with the good news!
Merlin has been recovering so well! The first night I got him back he was in so much pain but I was able to give him more pain meds and that really made a difference! He was on ant ibiotics and two pain meds for the first few days. He is now completely off all meds!l and he's been really happy! Still on some pain when his stitches are touched, but manageable!
I worked from home while he was recovering and had a bunch of help from my friends and neighbors when I had to be away. I think Merlin really liked the company. We had our own bonding experience whole he recovered. I put out the futon mattress and a bunch of blankets for him and slept out in the living room with him. Made sure he was doing ok throughout the nights and gave him pain meds when he needed it. He seemed to wake up every so often looking for me and always seemed comforted when he saw me. It was really sweet.
Just as he was starting to get better he got a cold! He started having violent sneezing episodes that I'm sure didn't feel good on the incision. He had a slight fever one night and I got super worried. I took pictures and a video and sent it to the surgeon and she said he seemed fine and that the cold will just play its course. That was last Thursday. Now, he is feeling better. Still a bit sneezy and congested, but I have been leaving a humidifier on for him which is supposed to help.
Other than being sick he has been great! He eats more than ever! Maybe because I changed back to his favorite food... He fights back, walks around, scratches at his post, and even plays a little! AAAANND he hasn't coughed thrown up once since the surgery!! I'm so happy!! The surgeon said the material on the tumor was brittle and filled with puss. I'm worried that if he hadn't gotten it removed it might have ruptured inside him! I think I saved him some time just for that! So worth it!
Now I have been leaving him at home unattended - with a cone - because he's doing so well. He gets his stitches out on saturday!! He will hate it, but he won't have to wear the cone and he will have access to all areas of the apartment afterwards!
Overall, Merlin is recovering very well and I am so happy we were able to get the surgery for him!
Ok, now for the bad news.
The surgeon called me with the biopsy results. Merlin is diagnosed with carcinoma, which is a cancer. My options are to put him on chemo pills (which cats handle very well - nothing like what humans experience) or do nothing. The life expectancy from diagnosis is 3 months...and we're probably half way through that. The life expectancy with chemo is 4 to 6 months from diagnosis. Not much better. Chemo would require taking him to the vet every 6 weeks for blood tests and xrays to see how he's reacting to the drug. The drug would be 3 pills every week or something like that. Merlin hates pills.... And everything together would be maybe another $1000.
So, I've decided not to go through with chemo. It's expensive, he hates pills, and all cats hate going to the vet more than they have to. There is also a chance it wouldn't help and it doesn't add much time to his life. It was hard to hear the final diagnosis because I really thought we had a chance that he could be cancer-free. I am slowly coming to accept it. As for his prognosis...i think he has more time than that. He's eating a lot, social, happy, gaining weight, passing normal bowel movements, the whole galore! I doubt he has a year. I'm not really sure how much time he has, but I plan on making it count. He will be spoiled....more than he already is. And he will travel! Not really what I had in mind for him, but I will be moving to California for the summer and then to Ontario, CA and he will definitely be coming with me. I want to spend as much time with him as possible. I'm a little worried about the stress of moving for him but I know he will adjust.
I want to give a final thank you to everyone - friends, family, acquaintances, strangers. It's really special what was accomplished here and it is something I will be forever grateful for. Thank you so so much. Merlin and I can now live comfortably : )
So sorry to hear the diagnosis. All the best to you and Merlin.
I'm sorry about the final diagnosis, but you are doing the right thing. He certainly knows how much you love him, and are making his life beautiful for whatever time he has left. No one knows how much time we have, so make the best of it. Thank you for sharing your journey. Good luck in SoCal - I am a 4th generation Los Angeles transplant. It's a beautiful place and I wish you both the best.
Hugs Shannon - I know this is not the news we all hoped for but your love and compassion shine through and Merlin feels it. Enjoy each and every day you and Merlin can share and I am praying you have more days than you think.
Hi Shannon- I have been following this story since it started, and was nearly brought to tears by the last post/update. I am beyond thrilled to hear that Merlin is recovering well, and that he is going to have the best last few months ever. It saddens me knowing he is eventually going to go, but I know that this is what is best for him since the chemo will likely exhaust him and he will hate it because of the pills and vet visits... you made the right decision. I am so happy that he is continuously showered with love from you- you are doing such a great job, I could not imagine going through this. God bless you and Merlin! Sending him hugs & belly rubs. Kailey
Hi Shannon, I just wanted to say that, despite the final diagnosis, I'm so happy to be a part of helping you spend more time with Merlin. I am so glad that he is so loved. I love cats, and it warms my heart to see you taking such loving care of him. Eugene
You have done so well by him, and are making the time he has left great. We should all be so lucky.
Sending healing thoughts to Merlin! He's on the road to recovery! :)
Glad to here that surgery is over and they could remove the tumor. Praying for great news on testing results and that he improves through the night so that you can bring him home tomorrow.
So great that they were able to remove the tumor! (He looks very handsome in his sweater, BTW).
So happy to hear that it may not be cancerous. I can't imagine what you are going through right now. I hope all will be ok and Merlin will be healthy for a good few more years! Please keep updating!
So sorry to hear. id say use what was donated to keep him comfy and donate whats left to a local shelter or charity. (or possibly adopt another kitty in need of a home).
I'm sorry to hear that the cancer has spread :-( But it's good that you have diagnosed it. Use the leftover money for Chemo, if you decide so, or donate it to a humane or animal shelter! Cuddles for Merlin!! And hugs for you!
I'm so sorry. Just treat him like a king with what time he has left - you have loved him beyond measure and he knows that. Sending love and prayers to you and Merlin. You are a good mom.
Shannon, thank you for updating us! I will say this from the bottom of my heart: The main thing in deciding what's best for Merlin is that he not suffer. Cats show remarkable resistance to showing pain, as the vet may already have told you, but doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. He is not elderly, but not young either. Going through further surgery and chemo doesn't sound good. You probably think it's worth it because you love him so much, but think of Merlin. I learned with my cat, who I had to put down several years ago after she developed a tumor in her jaw, that I wished I hadn't waited as long as I did. It was not fair to her and I hate myself for thinking she suffered more because of my own selfishness in wanting her to live because of MY feelings. And I know she did in thinking over her last days. You may hate my saying this and perhaps your vet has given you a prognosis that makes you hopeful. But a few months to live without further medical intervention is not good, and the medical intervention in and of itself is not pleasant for him. Please confer with your vet that if you do go through with further treatment that Merlin will have years and not months left to his life. And that life will be of good quality. I'm so sorry you're going through this and just know that I have been through similar. Best to you and Merlin. -Liz
I'm so glad he is getting the surgery he needs. Sending healing thoughts!
I hope you find someone who will do the surgery. Please let us know!
If his doesn't get the surgery, donate funds to shelter.
I hope you raise the funds needed for your precious kitty. I'm a friend of Patrice Gildner. I gave what I could, but I also posted a link on her share of this campaign that has links for charities that assist with vet bills. You might try that also.