Surviving Gastric Lymphoma

hopscotch

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I am posting this as a story of hope for those out there who, like me back in Dec. 2019, may be desperately searching the Internet to understand a terrible diagnosis of gastric lymphoma, and if it is possible for a cat to survive it. The odds are slim but the answer is YES, it is possible.

On Dec. 3, 2019, at the age of 13 years, 10 months old, my Abyssinian cat, Simba, was diagnosed with high grade (aggressive) diffuse, large B-cell (DLBCL) primary gastric lymphoma in the stomach.

The prognosis was very poor for this type of cancer, 4-6 weeks to live from diagnosis. I didn’t want him to pass on Christmas so I opted for oral chemo (Lomustine) right away and accepted a referral to a vet oncologist just to check if there was nothing else that could be done.

The oncologist gave me the same info as the vet, but offered injection chemo (Doxorubicin) to give Simba more good days. Unlike with humans, Simba did very well on chemo and did not lose any fur.

To everyone’s amazement, by the end of January 2020 he started to pick up. I continued chemo with Simba every third week through the lockdown in 2020 and his last chemo injection was at the end of March 2020. Three weeks later, Simba had a full medical check, blood work and an endoscopy. There was absolutely no cancer in the stomach. It was completely gone. 16 endoscopy samples were taken from his stomach and they were all negative for cancer as well. Neither his regular vet not the oncologist had seen this before, but Simba had achieved complete remission. It was a rare outcome.

In the summer of 2020, he had another follow-up endoscopy with 11 samples taken, two ultrasounds (one last summer and another in spring 2021) and has had two echocardiograms (since the medication can be hard on the heart), and Simba remains in complete remission today at 15.5 years old.

As proof that this really did all happen, here are links to the posts about Simba.

Simba’s Vet’s Facebook Post (June 15, 2021):
Coquitlam Animal Hospital Facebook

Simba’s Vet Oncologist’s Patient Stories Post on their website, BBVSH (July 16, 2021):
Join us in congratulating Simba - 14 months in remission! | Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital

That is Simba’s oncologist hugging him in the photo in the second link on BBVSH. Simba is wearing an inflatable unicorn horn.

Today is day 600 since his diagnosis and he is now 15 months in complete remission.

Prior to this outcome, my hope for Simba had hinged on this other post I had found about Nate the cat, who miraculously also survived high grade gastric lymphoma.
Incurable to Cancer-Free in One Year: How Nate-the-Cat Survived High Grade Lymphoma

Cancer is a terrible diagnosis, but there can be hope. Don’t be afraid to try.
 

fionasmom

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Thank you so much for posting this account of Simba's battle with lymphoma. You both fought a very long, hard battle and won. Here is to many more healthy years for Simba.
 
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hopscotch

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You’re welcome. Like with Nate the cat, I did something a little different with the treatment too. I hesitated adding this because no one can say whether Simba just got lucky or if something else given kicked in and helped him. I suppose I’ll mention it.

I kept Simba on palliative medication at the same time as chemo: daily Prednisolone, Omerprazole and Cerenia. I also have had Simba on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) called Rehmannia Eight, prescribed by a vet certified in treatments including TCM, acupuncture and chiropractic. Rehmannia Eight is given to improve blood flow and circulation to help the kidneys. He remains on the palliative regime, though at a lower dose, to manage gastritis and IBD inflammation that he’s prone to, and is still on Rehmannia Eight, too. Simba eats a limited ingredient canned diet. Every day is a good day and Simba has a great quality of life.
 

Joelle and the kittens

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Note: this is not intended as criticism of the lengths you went to for Simba -- one or a combination of the treatments you used worked for him and in the end that's what matters! However:
I would really strongly avoid TCM formulations, for the reasons I outline in this post. Alternative medicine is a heavily-lobbied, multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. just like the pharmaceutical industry; the difference is that alt med treatments are not required to demonstrate safety or efficacy and there is almost zero oversight of their ingredients. This is even more true for products made outside of the U.S. Because there is zero scientific basis behind TCM, well-controlled studies are non-existent, poor quality, fraudulent, or negative and unpublished for the vast majority of compounds. More importantly, you can never, ever be confident about exactly what is in a given TCM remedy because the industry is almost entirely unregulated at every level. Here are the findings of one recent study:
Genetic analysis revealed that 50% of samples contained DNA of undeclared plant or animal taxa, including an endangered species of Panthera (snow leopard). In 50% of the TCMs, an undeclared pharmaceutical agent was detected including warfarin, dexamethasone, diclofenac, cyproheptadine and paracetamol. Mass spectrometry revealed heavy metals including arsenic, lead and cadmium, one with a level of arsenic >10 times the acceptable limit. The study showed 92% of the TCMs examined were found to have some form of contamination and/or substitution.
This blog post by a vet goes into very good detail on the marketing of TCM, especially in veterinary practice.
 
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