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the saga of my little Crystal girl


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I know that this is nothing like caregiving for your loved one with lung cancer, but my sweet little girl cat Crystal has end-stage cancer, and it has given me a little bit of insight. If you would indulge me, I'd like to share what has happened and what I have observed.

First, let me say that our 3 cats are our "children." Yep, I'm one of those weirdos who collects felines - so far I've had the self-control to stop at 3.

Crystal was adopted in 1997 from the shelter weighing just 6 1/2 pounds; thin & frail. My husband's mother loved her at first sight, so we took her home. She had just had 6 kittens.

Gray with a white chest and boots and a pink nose, and the sweetest tiny meow. Her gentleness has always delighted us, and even now, as she is dying, that remains constant.

Last fall she got a lump on her leg. Vet took one look and said, "It's malignant." An x-ray showed pulmonary mets (Already! From such a tiny lump! Unfair!!) We chose comfort care.

Now, she can hardly walk. The tiny lump has taken over her now-useless leg. She has bad days and good days. Yesterday, she retreated under a table and didn't come out. Today, she greeted me when I woke up, ready for breakfast.

She is in pain, but has never cried, squealed, whined, or done anything but purr when she is petted, just like always. Her younger "brother" tries to steal her food, just like always, and she lets him. She was never one to fight.

Crystal's acceptance is a thing of beauty! I pray that I can be more like her (which I know sounds a bit loopy, but it is true.) The dignity of Crystal seems boundless. And I am thankful for having this example of forebearance in my life to follow. God bless you, Crystal!

Thanks for reading this. Again, I know it's nowhere close to what you are experiencing, but I needed to vent to someone who would understand. So thank you.

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My parents live on the outskirts of the city where many of the city gardens are located. You see those all over Europe: tiny parcels of land where people

grow flowers and vegetables and have a tiny house

to spend their summer evenings around away from the city noise. As a result there are zillions of wild cats around. My mother was taking care of some 20-30 of them for the last twenty years. My father built them a house. This is an extension of our house so it has heat and water. They spent their winter in that house. Wild cats, even vacinated, are so prone to diseases, accidents that it is unbelievable. So death is a constant companion. Cats, when they are sick, just get depressed, more and more. They withdraw, hide somewhere, get quiet, and one day they are just gone. I always thought that the nature told them to give up. Not to accept it but to give up: since cure was so unlikely, death had to come.

Terribly sad.

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It's not as off topic as might think. About a year ago my cat was diagnosed with Feline Chronic Renal Failure. We treated her as best we could, but I always knew i was only buying time. I was so upset wondering how many days together we had left. Then it danwed on me that I should be thinking about her illness completely different. From that day onward I treated every additional day with her as if it was a gift. Instead of subtracting time down I was adding time together up. It made all the difference in the final months and weeks I had with her. I finally had to let her go on Dec 2nd, but I was very grateful for the gift of her companionship every single day she was with me. It was still hard to let her go--the hardest thing I've ever done.

Just a month later my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and it seemed to me that maybe my cat's purpose had been to teach me something about life. So every day I have with my mom is a gift. None of us are promised tomorrow (or even all of today), so everyday I have with her is a gift, and I'm thankful for every single one of them.

Crystal is teaching you someting just like Miss Belle taught me a valuable lesson. It's closer than you think.--Susan

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my daisy Dawg is my life line and my rock. She has been B9 2 times and had a recent Spleenectomy with Possible Malignancy. Can not identify the mass that was removed. She is also my best friend in the whole world right now.

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We learned to face cancer

from the dogs we always

considered as our only

children. Shane and Happy.

What a beautiful journey we

had with them.

Now both dogs are gone from cancer,

my husband is gone from lc and

I'm left with two cancers (no

treatment) and trying to live

like they did, facing each day

with wonder and enjoying myself

as much as I can.

Crystal will leave her prints

on your life, thank you Crystal.

Jackie

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The more I know of people, the more I love my dog. It's heart breaking to lose one, the two I've lost were both quick - one to oncoming traffic and the other to kidney failure from a deformity she had since birth. My Daisy had to be put down before Christmas the year I was diagnosed and marked the sixth death of that year for us. Horrible...

I'm so sorry, Cindy.

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Teresa,

I'm so sorry,

I loved what fillise said

Then it danwed on me that I should be thinking about her illness completely different. From that day onward I treated every additional day with her as if it was a gift. Instead of subtracting time down I was adding time together up.

This line of thinking is what helped me when my dad was diagnosed.

I hope you have more days with Crystal.

Rick relunctantly agreed to let the kids adopt a kitten that was part of a bunch rescued from Hurricane Katrina. He was scrawny and a mess, now he is fat and looks like a white and grey stripped tiger. I don't admit it, but I love that fat cat...and I'm ALLERGIC to cats.

(((HUGS))) I know this must be really hard on you.

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Our Murphy developed lymphoma and we traveled 45 minutes/week to get tx for him. Fred planned his vacation for the week Murphy needed to have chemo. Fred has since commented......little did he know as he laid on the floor with that wonderful dog that within a few years he would be traveling that chemo journey with ME. We here LOVE our pets. I am so sorry Teresa.

Kasey

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Teresa,

I can relate very well, and I'm so sorry.

We lost our cat just over two years ago to old age/kidney failure. She was 19 -- beautiful black short hair pound kitty. We were going to Europe to visit family. I was so scared she wouldn't be here when we returned. My parents faithfully looked after her, despite the protest from their own cat. My mom called us in England saying she didn't think Delilah would hold out until we got back. I was heartbroken -- she'd been with me since she was 6 weeks old, and I wasn't going to be there for her at the end of her life. She helped me through divorce, job losses, the death of my grandparents, and so many other of life's challenges. We arrived in Los Angeles from London exhausted. Bill insisted we drive straight down to San Diego to my parent's home. She slept the night in bed with us. She died in my arms on the drive home the next morning. Call me crazy, but I know she waited for us. I still miss her so much, and I swear I've felt her walking around the foot of the bed.

It might sound a little weird, but toward the end I used to tell her how much she meant to me, and I thanked her for being so faithful.

Bill and I say all the time that we simply could not imagine going through this cancer nightmare without our Mrs. Dickens (crazy great dane). She's our angel.

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Good heavens! Your beautiful messages are making me cry right here at work! I believe it's true: they can teach us so very much; they can show us the way through our troubles.

So nice to know that others feel so strongly about their precious pets, too. God bless you all for your kindness!

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OMG. I am so crying with all of this. Pets are so so important. Environment and animals are important to our life. I am really sorry and I appreciate everything that has been said here. This is so very existential. We must all really deal with our meaning and relationships to others.

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Teresa...I'm so sorry your Crystal isn't well. :cry:

I've had cats all my life...and dogs, too! (We don't discriminate in our family! LOL) I started life, Mom says, with TWO St. Bernards living in the house with two adults and three kids.

15 or 16 years ago (I can't remember now!) we kids got together and pooled what little money we had to buy Mom a purebred miniature dachshund for Christmas. She was small enough to stand in your hand when we got her and we all immediately fell in love with our "Barbie" (short for BBQ...she IS a cocktail weenie, afterall :wink: ). In the years since we kids have all moved and had families of our own, Barbie has been Mom's constant compantion. As Mom's health has declined, so has Barbie's. The two are linked in ways we could have never imagined when we bought that lil runt of a dog all those years ago...and I'm so happy that we gave her a gift that's lasted through all these years to bring her happiness (and a wet rug or two...or three...or...Well, there's a reason her nickname is Spot! :shock: )

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Your Crystal is a symbol of strength ... I'm a firm believer that animals hold all the same feelings we humans do.

My Moma-dog Chelsea passed away with limphomia (cancer)... you could see it in her eyes and face the pain was horrible. But she never complained and always had a hug and kiss for anyone of us who wanted them. Even though she couldn't get off the couch cause she was too sore, she would welcome and invite you to collect your warm/fuzzy moment from across the room if needed.

Thank god for the pets .... they show some of us what we could be ..... and show us what is really important ........ we have each other.

Tammy

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Just thought you all might wish to know: today our little Crystal girl was gently put to sleep, while my husband and I held her and whispered to her that we love her. She took a turn for the worse Saturday. Last night, I took out the sleeping bag & slept beside her on the floor, so we had one last night close together. My husband returned from his business trip this afternoon & immediately we headed to the vet. She did not deserve a second day in that condition.

We will miss her terribly, but we know that our grief comes directly from the love she brought us.

Just a few random personal remarks - (I want to reply to every one of you individually but I don't have time right now):

1. Randy, I hope your dog continues 2 B B9!

2. Snowflake, what a terrible year; I hope you & your family never endure anything like it again.

3. Jackie, Crystal has left her (paw)prints on our lives, and we will cherish them forever! Her soft little paw pads were a mottled grey and pink. Thank you for that lovely message.

4. Tammy, so well said! Crystal did show us what we could be, if only we were more patient, more humble, and more giving.

I asked my Dad to show Crystal around heaven, so she will have a guide - I imagine he has already shown her to the canned kitty food aisle. Thanks, Dad! (Miss you both.)

Many thanks for your kindness, everyone. - Teresa

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Teresa, I'm so sorry!!! Crystal sounded like such a wonderful friend. I have had pets all of my life and each time I lose one, my heart is broken. To me, pets are not just "animals." They are true friends that love us unconditionally. I know that this sweet little friend brought mountains of joy into your life. Although you will miss her terribly, I know you are glad that she is no longer in pain. My heart hurts for you!!!

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Missy, I love dachsunds! Two of my sisters have had them. How beautiful that your Mom's is there to share the journey.

Thank you, Don. I know this pales in comparison to the troubles usually voiced on this board, but our pets are indeed family. She was much loved.

Flowergirlie, thank you. This morning is the first one in 10 years that I have awakened to a world without Crystal. And, yes, the world's the same - but a little bit diminished.

Beth, I think pets show us what our relationships can be if we remove all guile, all pride. You are so right - it has much broader meaning than our love for an animal.

Teri, I have no doubt that your cat waited for you. How wonderful that she was able to sit on your lap, the most comfortable place in the world for her, when she died.

Kasey, how wonderful that your pet "showed you the way" through chemo. He sounds like a wonderful dog.

Katie, LOL about your falling in love with the kittens! Did you know that usually people are allergic to their saliva, not dander? Bathing helps; but you have to start now while they are young or they will not let you do it as they grow up.

Susan, such a wise sentiment: she did teach us. And your perspective on the days that remain with your Mom is beautiful.

Nick, thak you. Eclipse is a great name for a skunk! (Black and white.)

Wiesia, I can't say if she was really depressed. Only on her last day did her tail stop gently wagging when I spoke her name. I think she just had no energy left. In fact, they had trouble at the vet getting an IV because her BP was so low; she was badly dehydrated. I am remembering, and telling my husband, all the things I know about end-of-life, e.g., buildup of carbon dioxide, endorphin release, and so on - and I think she was very, very weak but relatively comfortable. I hope this knowledge gave my husband a bit of comfort; he was hurt more deeply than I, I think.

Thank you again, everybody, for your kind and wise responses to my sadness. I have learned something else from Crystal: how warm and comforting it is to be on the "receving" side on this board.

Fondly, Teresa

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Teresa,

I'm pleased your little kitty was able to pass away with you by her side. I know you'll miss her so much.

Can we stand one more cat story? Some will call this coincidence -- that's okay.

The very night before we would receive the call from the doctor about Bill's first x-ray, I was out for a jog. As I rounded the corner of our street, this adorable black cat (very similar to my Delilah, but probably about a year old) started chasing me! I stopped, petted it briefly, and went on my way. It was relentless -- literally at my feet. I stopped again and picked it up. It was purring and just staring at me. At that point, I started to cry. There was something at work here, I could feel it. This went on for 5 to 10 minutes -- me picking the cat up, it following me, etc. I didn't want to leave it (it was someone's pet -- it had a collar). It sat there and watched me walk up the street and out of view. I walked in the door and told Bill all about it -- he believed it was something more than a friendly cat too.

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My little shihtzu is in early stage renal failure. The vet says she is not in pain. We tried to put her on a "kidney" friendly diet but she seemed allergic to every brand we found. She now eats anything she wants or I should say anything I will cook for her. She is 13 years old and has been with me through many of life's troubles..including my surgery and chemo etc. She sleeps with us and is always happy to see us, even though she will not give us "sugar" when we first get home. Its like she is showing us her displeasure at our leaving her for a few hours. I love her with all of my heart and am greatful for every day I have with her. That tail wagging and her little wet nose against my face is one of the special times for me each day.

The vet told us around Thanksgiving that her time was very limited and that it was not too early to think about putting her to sleep. I took her to our Episcopalian Priest and asked him to bless her and she has been better since. I know she is not cured but she is happy and still with us. I believe that prayer helps us accept our lot in life and make the most of each day we have. That is my prayer for all of us here. Greet each day the way my little dog does. Happy to be here and glad to see her loved ones. No grudges, no dislikes, no fear. Just glad to be alive.

This is way longer than I meant to write. I am sorry about Crystal and dread the day when either Prissy or I have to make the decision to end her life. I hope it is Prissy that decides for me, but if not, that I have the courage not to let her suffer any longer that she must when the time comes.

I seem to go on and on....sorry...

Much love to all of you,

Nina

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Nina--I went through the same thing with my cat last year. Take good care of her--every day is a gift!

Speaking of gifts, I got a call from my vet on Friday. They had a rescued kitty that needed a home and they thought she and I would get along. So I went to meet her and decided we needed each other. She's very sweet and it has been a real comfort to be able to talk with her and laught at her playfulness (I live alone). I had just the week before decided that I was ready to bring a new cat into the house. Theresa, for a long time I couldn't bear the thought of any kitty but my Miss Belle, but I knew that when my heart was ready I'd allow myself to fall in love with another kitty. When your heart is ready, I'm sure you will too. Crystal was a very lucky kitty to have had you to love her!

Susan

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Teresa--

So sorry to hear about your kitty's passing but glad it was a peaceful one. As you said, I know that losing a pet doesn't compare to the grief and loss on this board but pets are part of our family and see us through many things. It hurts a lot, an awful lot. I lost one of my dogs back in Sept. to oral scc and will soon lose my Black Lab to hemangiosarcoma. What can I say? There will be another void in my life. Again, I'm sorry to hear about Crystal. She sounded like a special girl.

gail p-m

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