Celica Blue and Lymphoma: The Journey Ends


Celica Blue

Celica Blue on Dec. 13, 2016

On Dec. 22, 2016, exactly six months after she was diagnosed, Celica Blue lost her battle with lymphoma. It’s taken me more than two months to finish her story.

She was the love of my life and brought the most incredible amount of joy in the two short years she was with us.

The bump in the road turned out to be a mountain down which we kept sliding. Her renal values jumped off the chart, the indication that the lymphoma was affecting her kidneys. Dr. Olmsted made the decision to switch her chemo treatment to l’asparaginase and, in case there was an infection, put her on zenaquin. We also took her to Branford Veterinary Hospital, our regular vet, for fluids.

We had another appointment for Dec. 15 at Central. But as I set the carrier down at hospital waiting room, Celica Blue started having a seizure. She was whisked away and they were able to stabilize her immediately with a small dose of Valium. But given that situation, she had to be hospitalized. Dr. Olmsted also said she was experiencing some neurological effects from the seizure, including tremors and vision loss.

Little did I know I would never be able to bring her home. It turned out to be a roller coaster of a week. Just when we thought one of the treatments was working, there’d be a setback.

I visited every day. We spent the time in a small room where I talked to her and gave her food from home and her favorite treats. She seemed better after a couple days. Her vision had improved and her third eyelid had gone down. To keep her engaged and stimulated, I made a point to let her walk around and look out the window.

Celica Blue was getting intravenous fluids to counteract the decline in her kidney function, while we waited to try a chemo that would attack the lymphoma in her kidneys. But then her red blood cell count started to go down.

Each morning, Dr. Olmsted’s phone call provided a bit of information – sometimes hopeful, sometimes not. Our goal was to get her strong enough to get the chemo and bring her home. I also gave permission for a blood transfusion.

Amid all this, she was on seizure watch and just when we thought she could be released – if anything to take her home to say good-bye there – she had two seizures in one evening.

At that point, it was time to make a decision. Dr. Olmsted assured us that we did everything possible, that she hadn’t been uncomfortable or in pain. Indeed, I was wondering if we went too far, but when the options were presented, how could we say no? She was only 2 years old and deserved every chance at life.

But Celica Blue had run out of time. We returned to the hospital the next day – a week after her first seizure – to end the struggle. The lymphoma had won.

First we had to take care of the business end… paying the bill for a week of in-hospital treatment – more than $5,000 for that alone – and choosing an urn for private cremation.

She was brought into the room, where we’d spent so much time with treatments and discussion, on a pile of blankets. I wished the lights in the room were dimmed. She was hardly conscious. I talked to her hoping she heard me. I tried to bury my face in her fur to “huff” her one more time, but I was too congested from crying.

The tech and Dr. Harley, who we consulted with in the very beginning, were sweet, and it was over very quickly. They asked us if we wanted to have a pawprint made, which, of course, we did.

Aftermath

Once we returned home, I realized that her presence was everywhere, physically and emotionally.

She was often waiting for me at the top of the cat tree by the door when I came home and followed me around the house. I would make up little sing-song rhymes, starting with “Celica Blue, I love you.”

In the living room, she often slept in the bed in the window – my favorite photo of her is in that bed, smiling. She also liked the ottoman and the overstuffed chair, which she used as a jumping off point for the top of the bookshelves; “Rocky,” a raccoon puppet I had forever, lived in a hatbox on the top shelf and Celica Blue took great delight in knocking it to the floor. She would go to the toys on the hearth and pull out ones she wanted she play with – she was great at fetch.

Celica Blue

That Russian Blue smile.

In the office, she liked to lay on the bed on the desk in front of the window and enjoy the sun and view. She didn’t hesitate to walk across the computer keyboard when she wanted attention… or a meal, especially before breakfast. She somehow knew when I discarded grape vine stems and would upend the can to snag them. She also enjoyed the cot beds on the floor and on the credenza next to the file cabinet. For some odd reason, she liked to hang out under the desk; I wondered if she was on mouse patrol.

In the kitchen, she often helped to make a batch of food, often dragging the plastic bag of base mix off the counter and sticking her nose in the batch of food as I was making it. She and Tekla always ate together on the counter and I loved to watch them interact, headbutting each other, walking back and forth tails entwined.

At night, she would often sleep under the covers between my husband and me, or on his side of the bed since Mollie would sleep on my side. And in the morning – one of the things I loved the most – she would come and lay on top of me for our morning commune. It didn’t matter how badly I had to pee.

We like to think the relationships with all of our cats are special. But we’d be deceiving ourselves if we didn’t admit that some are more special than others. Perhaps it was Celica Blue’s unique background – flying some 5,000 miles to me after a month of arranging the details. I do believe we had this deep bond, perhaps forged on the long ride home from the airport and the amazement that this one small cat came so far to be with us.

I also realized she was my anchor, a ray of light amid work, personal crap, and the turbulent political climate. I must add that the love and concern from my Facebook friends all over the world was nothings short of wonderful.

When I picked up her urn and pawprint a week or so later, I gave Dr. Olmsted and her team a framed photo of Celica Blue (the one above). She was thrilled. We chatted a bit (and cried) and she assured me once again that we had done everything possible in treating her.

She was with us for only two years, but she gave a lifetime of love.

Celica Blue. I miss you.

Celica Blue w_pawprint

Read about Celica Blue’s Journey here:

Part 1 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: The Journey Begins

Part 2 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: Two Weeks In

Part 3 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: Round 3

Part 4 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: The New Normal

Part 5 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: Remission in Sight?

Part 6 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: Her Oncology Team

Part 7 – Celica Blue and Lymphoma: A Bump in the Road

 

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

One Response to Celica Blue and Lymphoma: A Bump in the Road

  1. Holding Celica Blue and you in the Light.

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Filed under cancer, Cat health, Cats, health, lymphoma Tagged with , , ,

About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

15 Responses to Celica Blue and Lymphoma: The Journey Ends

  1. Andreea says:

    Heartbreaking story, it really got to me especially since I have two beautiful Russians and they are so much like your beautiful Celica Blue…Thank you for sharing your story, your pain and your friend’s amazing soul, may you find the peace you need…

    • Thank you, Andreea. Russian Blues are indeed the most amazing cats. I’ve had many over the years, but there was something about Celica Blue that was incredibly special.

  2. Janea Kelley says:

    I’m so sorry, Sally. I lost a beloved kitty to lymphoma, too, and I know how hard that road can be. Blessings and peace, compassion and condolences to you.

  3. Catwoods says:

    I’m so sorry you lost your beautiful kitty. I lost my Pretty Girl to lymphoma also. Wishing you peace and comfort in good memories.

  4. josinger14 says:

    Sally, it’s hard to write with tears flowing… It’s hard to write because I have a hole in my heart for your loss. It’s hard to write the words that express my feelings intelligently- words that I wish I could. Your post has touched my heart so deeply and I feel so for you. Much love and gentle kitty hugs to you. How wonderful that Celica Blue chose you from so many miles away to spend time with you-albeit too short. But what a gift she was..

    • She was a gift indeed. And yes, it was difficult to write… hence, taking almost three months. I’m sure you feel the same way about Sir. Hubble. Thanks for responding, Jo.

  5. Anna says:

    My heart feels for you. I lost my little girl girl three years ago on Dec 2. We had her for 12 years. She was also a Russian Blue. Her name was Empress Olga. Press for short. She was never sick always loving. One morning she wasn’t herself. I tried to get to the vet for help only to find she had a heart attack on the way. It was the longest ride of my life.
    She was cremated and I have her paw print and a clipping of her fur. She was pure elegance. She never got on the counter top. However, she did have a stool she sat on and watched me preparing food or just washing dishes. She love watching the birds and squirrels from the windows. She also loved playin fetch. She never went outside.
    I am so sorry for you loss. My hugs go out to you!

  6. Bernadette says:

    I think of you and Celica Blue frequently, every time I see a gray kitty, every time I hear of a young cat who’s lost her battle too soon. I’ve lost a young cat to FIP, and two cats to lymphoma before even chemo was available, and many others as well, but it never stops being a little point of sadness even years later. I hope that time heals your wound, and perhaps the wonderful gentleman cat you’ve adopted will help you with that.

    • Thanks, Bernadette. There’s something magical about gray cats. I think adopting Stormy has opened the window for completed Celica Blue’s story. She’s settling in nicely.

  7. Ingrid King says:

    Oh Sally, my heart aches for you. Losing a soul cat like Celica Blue is so devastating, and when she’s so young, it’s even worse. I still remember your excitement when you met her at the airport as a kitten. I’m glad Stormy came into your life, and I think Celica Blue is smiling.

  8. mraine33 says:

    Ugh…what a beautiful girl. It’s so tough to lose a family member that way, and I don’t care what anyone says, my pets are exactly that, family members, and nothing less. She looks like a lighter version of my Stella Rae, and reading things like this always brings that mortality to the spotlight. I hope I have many years left with her, but you never really know how much time anyone has. I try to make each day count. As hard as it can be, I find comfort in adopting another animal after one passes. Not because it “replaces” them, but because I like to think that the best way to pay it forward is to save another one. You can always harden your heart and say no more for me, but that doesn’t help the greater situation. I like to think my furry friends would want me to help as many of their kind as I can. I hope you have the chance to feel that love again, and keep Celica Blue in your heart forever. ❤

  9. Connie says:

    It is so hard to lose them. You and Celia reminds me so much of my husband and his Kit that we lost in November. so your story touches me deeply. sending purrs of condolence..

  10. Caro says:

    Hi Sally, I have followed your journey with Celica Blue & felt your loss deeply. She had the most loving and informative care from you and and got the best care from her vets. I lost a 5 1/2 year old Russian Blue who also had an unspecified tumour and with HCM 3 years ago,. Sending prayers & condolence.

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