Doctor’s Story: Considering Chemo For a Cat With Cancer

In an surreal twist of fate, the dreaded “C” word – cancer – has already returned to our borrowed abode, this time striking our awesome little cat, Doctor.3-IMG_2070

Two months ago, noticing that our cat Doctor was losing weight and acting more lethargic, we took him to the vet for blood work. I had a gut feeling that he had cancer, but I thought I was probably just paranoid after losing Charlie to that disease 6 months ago. Running a “senior panel” on an older dog or cat is the most efficient way to get the whole picture of their health – the measurements often show illness that has already begun, or hint at illness that could begin soon and can be prevented or stalled with a little extra care or change in diet.

As we feared, a few of Doctor’s blood results were off, hinting at some sort of chronic disease.   An abdominal ultrasound with an internal medicine specialist was recommended, because it would literally provide a picture of how all his internal organs were doing – liver, spleen, kidneys, etc. it’s not a cheap diagnostic tool, but the quality and quantity of info it gives you makes it worthwhile.

I was horrified to find out that my gut feeling was right. Doctor had large cell Intestinal Lymphoma, a cancer invading his lymph nodes and intestines. The doctor explained to us that the cancer was thickening the intestinal wall, and eventually it would become so thick that nothing could pass through it. When this day comes, Doctor will start vomiting and it will be a sign that we have to let him go.

However! It’s been about two months since the diagnosis, and Doctor is doing well. I took him to the oncologist who treated Charlie just to see what our options were. We didn’t get in there until a month after the diagnosis (since we have been out of town helping my mom with her cancer issues) and the oncologist expressed surprise that Doctor was doing so well, given how invasive the cancer looked on the ultrasound.

Chemotherapy for Cats

Chemotherapy is just as hard on pets as it is on humans, if not worse, because you can’t explain to the pet what is going on and why they feel cruddy – but it can work wonders. It gave us quality time with Charlie that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.

We were given a few chemotherapy options for Doctor, all of which would extend his 3-month(ish) prognosis by another month or two. We chose not to pursue them.

The cat is actually happy right now. Why mess with that by administering meds that won’t save his life, but which are guaranteed to make him feel sick? While chemo has its benefits, it can be a slippery slope, with pills piled on top of other pills, all to combat the side effects of the main drug. Additionally, giving cats pills does not make the cat happy. . .

We considered other factors before saying no to the chemo. Because we are spending so much time out of town with my parents, we didn’t feel chemo was something we could do well. I hated to think of Doctor sitting at home with us out of town, feeling crappy, and not having us there to comfort him or give him love.   Also, it’s hard to find friends who are comfortable administering medications to cats, especially chemo ones.

Sometimes your life situation will influence how much medical care you can realistically provide to your pets. I think ultimately it’s not about how much veterinary care you can provide, but how much love you can give the pet, and how you respect them by letting them go when they are no longer happy.

So – long story short – we’re enjoying our time with Doctor, but are prepared to say goodbye when he’s no longer doing well. In the mean time, he’s getting all the stinky wet cat food he can eat. :)

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State of the Blog: A revised update!

In my last blog post – “Why I’m Giving Up on my Design & DIY Blog“ – I think perhaps I worded the title wrong, so I’ve gone back and revised it to “Why I’m Embracing Imperfection In My Design & DIY Blog.”

Thank you all who read it and took the time to email or comment. I wrote it on a whim after mulling over those thoughts for months, and it may have come across as whiny. That was not my intent.

Neither was it my intent to say I was ending my design blog. It was more of a personal manifesto; one in which I was publicly letting myself accept that I was no longer going to try and be something I’m not.

I haven’t had the energy for blogging lately. . . but I think it’s coming back! We’ve been very busy spending all of our free time (and some of my working time) in Delaware with my mom, and when I’m home I’m just trying to keep up with laundry and the house, etc.

However, Ryan and I have been working hard behind the scenes to get some projects done, and it’s been great therapy!   I’m looking forward to sharing some things

So here’s what you can expect on this blog in the future:

  • Real life projects & design attempts
  • In real time
  • With real photos (that may not always be magazine quality)
  • With [occasional] real life updates
  • Without ads or sponsored posts (though I may use affiliate links for products I love)

I am looking forward to rocking it old school.

I’ve seen a few other bloggers talk about keeping it real, letting go of the comparisons, and generally embracing the old-school “blogging for fun” mentality. Here are a few fave bloggers who still feel real to me, in case you’re looking for some other “real” bloggers to add to your reading list:

  • Christina, Plain & Simple – She wrote recently about letting go of comparison in her blogging, too.
  • Kalanicut - An awesome lady with a fun lifestyle blog, always written in a peaceful, calming tone that I love.
  • Small Chic Home – Jeannine has always kept it real while blogging about design. She posts real time updates and projects on a real-life schedule, and I’ve always loved that, because I can relate.

In the mean time, I’m working on a very exciting post about our latest project. It’s a big one!

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Why I’m Embracing Imperfection In My “Design & DIY” Blog

Note:  Originally titled “Why I’m Giving Up on my Design & DIY Blog – I changed the title after I realized it didn’t convey the right message. I’m not ending the blog, just revising my approach.

This June marked my five year anniversary of this blog, which I originally created to be a rental decorating and DIY blog.  In those five years I’ve seen so many changes in the blog world, and seen so many even younger blogs become famously successful almost overnight.

At first, I saw my traffic climbing steadily through 2012, but ever since then it’s been steadily decreasing, as the travel and work demands from my day job have increased and I’ve dedicated more hours on my handmade business.

With traffic half of what it was two years ago (14,000 visits a month vs. 30,000) I’ve been questioning my blog’s purpose all year.  With my mom terminally ill and now in hospice care, my somewhat stable little schedule has been temporarily disrupted as Ryan and I are traveling between DC and Delaware regularly to spend time with family but still work. Maybe it’s a weird silver lining, but this situation has made it so clear to me that I need to let go of my vision for the blog.

I remember the days when Young House Love was a baby blog, when there were fewer cliques and design bloggers were all just sharing sincere and real posts about their projects.  Now it feels as though, in order to have a successful design blog you must have magazine-quality photos and staged photos for every post and project you share, and you must have a constant stream of DIY projects and makeovers popping up in your readers’ feeds in order to keep their interest. Also, it seems that many design bloggers are able to constantly make over rooms and buy new furniture.  That’s not in my time or financial budget, nor does it fit with my interest in being eco-friendly.

I’m tired of comparing my home and blog to that of others. I’m not usually that kind of person, but this blog seems to have that effect on me  – and I don’t like it!

I bought a ticket to the Haven conference (which was last week) but then re-sold it a month ago because I felt my blog wasn’t good enough or popular enough and why should I spend all that money to travel only to sit in a conference and feel inadequate.  I know that sounds harsh, but it seemed most of the attendees would be full-time professional bloggers.  And that I am not.  Not by a long shot.

Also, it seems that many design bloggers are able to constantly make over rooms and buy new furniture.  That’s not in my time or financial budget, nor does it fit with my interest in being eco-friendly.

Honestly, while I love design and DIY and want to hone my design skills, do projects, and post about them regularly, I have found that I just can’t, no matter how many times I’ve tried to. Every year my time and travel requirements for the day job increase.  Additionally, I think if I hadn’t started Janery I may have been able to develop a more stable blog, but I’ve finally accepted that I’ve spread myself too thin.

My life is changing right now, and I want to be sure that by next year I’ve changed it in the way that’s right for me. I’m not leaving this blog behind, but its purpose will be adjusted.

I want to blog when I have an awesome DIY project or room makeover to share, but not feel pressured to do it regularly.

I want to feel comfortable blogging in shorter posts, sharing something fun I did without feeling the need to create a tutorial – unless it’s actually a super unique and tricky project.

I want to do more Craigslist Palace posts because that was a ton of fun, getting to decorate an imaginary room with thrifted finds.  But that post took me hours to complete, and I don’t always have that time.

I want to find my style again.  As I type, I’m sitting on my couch and looking at some floral pillows on it.  They’re pretty, but not “me”.  I’ve mostly stopped reading design blogs because I think they were skewing my sense of my personal style. I realized this when Ryan and I went on the mid-century modern home tour.

Right now I’m trying to decide if I should have two part-time blogs or one overall blog.  When the Janery website launches, I’ll have a Janery blog that customers can read.  I’m wondering if I should post my occasional home projects there, or if I should keep them happening here.

I sometimes wish I’d never started a blog, because it’s very hard to let go of it and accept change. But I have met some amazing people through it, and that makes it all worthwhile!  Also, I think I need to focus on what this blog has inspired me to do – like building furniture.  That’s something I never thought I’d do.

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