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Freya's tale

Our journey starts with a single step on three legs

Discovery and Diagnosis

Filed under: amputation,Uncategorized — mschelleau at 12:48 am on Friday, December 21, 2012  Tagged , , , ,

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You know how it is. Things seem fine and then out of the blue something catches the corner of your eye.

But a brief trip down memory lane first. I first met Freya when she was three weeks old and brought into my workplace with her mother and the rest of her litter.  She was the only grey kitten in the litter and I took to her straight away. So, after some research into a potential name and an internal confirmation that I was ready to take on a serious feline commitment, she moved in. That was nearly nine years ago. Since then she has terrorised geckos in Rockhampton, been aloof to visitors, made the move from Queensland to Sydney with me, and surveyed her world with justified disdain. When people meet her for the first time I remind them that cats used to be worshiped as gods in Ancient Egypt, and Freya remembers, so treat her like a goddess and you’ll be fine: hands off, approach with caution and provide offerings at regular intervals. What did I expect, after naming her for the goddess of the Valkyries?

Freya at home in a favourite box

Freya at home in a favourite box

Anyway, to the present. On 7 November 2012  I noticed a lump on Freya’s rear left leg (her hock for those who know, which didn’t include me until now). And then I looked more closely and saw it was quite a large, raised, solid, hairless lump which actually went around the inside of her leg as well, although that area still had hair. More than a bit alarming. So, I rang the vet for advice and ended up taking Freya in the next morning for some tests. Freya wasn’t limping, wasn’t in pain (touching the area did not elicit a cranky reaction) and her food intake hadn’t not been affected, so I took some heart from that……

Then the vet said it was definitely a tumour of some kind and the tests would tell us more. So, started the emotional roller coaster for me as you’d imagine, with many visions running through my head and feeling pretty gutted that I’d missed such an obvious lump.

Anyway, they took a fine needle aspirate and the  results seemed to show the tumour was borderline benign/cancerous. The vet also said that he thought the tumour was located in a place that was not readily visible and so it could easily have been overlooked for a while – so feel a little bit better about that aspect of it.

The upshot was, Freya was booked in for surgery on 21 November 2012  when the growth was removed as an excision biopsy and the mass sent off for further testing. Well, once they had a look, the news wasn’t good. The tumour was quite entwined with the muscles and tendons in her leg and so not all of it was able to be removed. Further, that type of growth pattern is apparently associated with malignancy.

And that was when the word was first mentioned …. amputation.

The vet said it is ‘better’ to have a rear leg amputated than a front – I say surely it is better not to have it removed at all … but I get what he is saying.

Well, the results of the biopsy were available 24 November 2012 when I took Freya in for a bandage change. And they were not good. A soft tissue sarcoma – and whilst ‘locally invasive’ (code for whopping great lump I suppose) they ‘generally do not undergo metastic spread’. So, for bad news it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Nonetheless, the advice from the vet, was to reconfirm amputation and so it was booked in for 28 November 2012.

Then, the day before the operation, Freya managed to remove the bandage on her leg and so I had to take her to the vets to get a replacement one (she had a skin graft and an open wound so even a day with that exposed would not be good). Anyway, the vet was impressed by her calm demeanour with the bandage change (they had called her a cat with ‘personality’ when she was at the vets’ – we know what they mean). He also commented that her skin graft was healing really well and that the open wound was beginning to granulate over (apparently that’s a good thing) and she was in no pain. So, he looked at me and said, I think we might let this leg heal and just keep an eye on the regrowth of the sarcoma and when that happens, that’s when the leg will be removed. He couldn’t put an estimate on that of course, it could be weeks, months or more.

So, that seemed all for the good. Amputation off the agenda for the moment. Sure, a delaying tactic only, but hey, I was good with it.

But of course, why have this blog if that was the end of the story…..


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