BART’S STORY - Beating the Odds

One of the worst days of my life was August 2, 2010 when my primary care vet called to say that after an exam and blood test my cat Bart had cancer.  I was DEVASTATED.  I noticed that he had lost some weight and attributed it to possible dental problems.  Cancer never crossed my mind.   I asked about his prognosis and she was not encouraging – a few weeks, or maybe months unless I wanted to put him through the stress and trauma of chemotherapy, and of course there was no guarantee that it would buy him too much time.  Her first inclination was to keep him home, happy and comfortable for the duration.  In the meantime, she prescribed prednisone which Bart began to take daily.

It’s my nature to question everything.  Although my vet (who has cared for all 7 cats) is wonderful and I would not think of ever changing vets, I was resistant to accepting “doing nothing” and “waiting” as an option.  I decided to find a holistic vet as I do believe in holistic healing as an adjunct to conventional healing.  I found a holistic vet not far from home, and just a few minutes away from Bart’s primary care vet.  I scheduled a consultation and had Bart’s test results sent to her.   The first thing the holistic vet said was that we must approach his cancer aggressively – and that she believed in a combination of conventional and holistic treatment.  She prescribed certain herbs and supplements. She is very understanding, with a compassionate nature and at the end of the consultation I felt a bit more reassured.    But most important, she stressed that I MUST make an appointment with Dr. Gerald Post, the distinguished veterinary oncologist.   She gave me his number in Norwalk and I called for an appointment. 

I was nervous when I walked into the Veterinary Cancer Center, but the environment and the kind and friendly manner of the staff put me at ease.  When I was brought into the examination room, Dr. Post and two associates – Dr. Olmsted and Dr. Smith greeted me in the same comforting way.  They examined Bart and he underwent an ultrasound which showed no evidence of cancer.  I told them that Bart was on prednisone for two weeks and was it possible?  Dr. Post suggested that in order to be sure that Bart did indeed have cancer -- and it was totally my decision – was to stop the prednisone for three weeks and return for another ultrasound.  We did.  Sadly, the ultrasound showed lymphoma.  I was numb.  Dr. Post discussed the best course of treatment for Bart and I began to feel hopeful. 

Bart started chemo immediately.   Once a week, Bart and I drove to Norwalk for his blood test and treatment. 

Bart adjusted well.  From the very beginning, he never seemed to have any negative effects from the chemo.  In the meantime, I shopped around for quality cat food, administered his medicine religiously and learned how to do therapeutic massage which he enjoyed.  New Age/healing music plays 24 hours a day in my home creating a calm, peaceful and tranquil mood.

Driving back and forth to CT, then rushing off to a full-time job in Manhattan and still trying to maintain a social life, was a grueling schedule.   But, Bart was my first priority and I would never ever for one minute put his needs second.  After all, he -- and his brother Claude, who I will get to eventually -- are the joys of my life. 

We began to look forward to making the weekly visit.    We are always warmly welcomed by the front desk staff, by the technicians and all the wonderful doctors.  The Veterinary Cancer Center is not a place to fear, but a place of hope and joy as you see the patients coming in – dogs wagging their tails and some cats purring in their carriers.   It’s a great comfort knowing that Bart is in the best possible hands.   The entire staff is dedicated to bringing love and healing to the patient and parents. And once in the examining room Bart is greeted by the attending doctor with a kiss on his forehead.  

Months went by and when Bart went into remission he was put on maintenance and his visits decreased from once a week, to every other week, then to every third week and eventually to every month.   He’s had some ups and downs, always pulled through.  Anytime I have a question or concern, I will call VCC and all issues are addressed immediately with patience and caring.  It’s now over two and a half years and I feel that if I was not sent to Dr. Post and his wonderful staff, I’m not sure Bart would be doing as well.                                                                                  

My life has been blessed with two loveable dogs and seven precious cats. I’ve felt the unbearable sadness of losing my beloved animals over the years.  But my life would not be as joyous or fulfilling without my animals.  So just like you would do for a parent or spouse, you take care of your animals with the same love and kindness and dedication.  And if you’re not willing to make the sacrifice of time and money, then you don’t deserve to have an animal.  They are your children and must be treated as such.   

I do not like to think about the day Bart is no longer here, but rather cherish each day that he is. 

Dr. Post and the amazing staff of the Veterinary Cancer Center are truly miracle workers.  Their devotion to making lives better for their patients and the patients’ families are nothing short of remarkable.  The VCC truly is a place of love and hope.

P.S.      My sister often asks about Bart and how he’s doing.  And I always say – “he’s doing well.”  About a year ago, while driving with her in her car she asked again.  And I said “he’s doing well.  He has the best doctor around – Dr. Gerald Post.”  She turned to me and said, “I know Gerald Post. He’s a renowned veterinarian.”   And she proceed to tell me that her two daughters (my nieces) went to school with Dr. Post’s younger brother and sister, were friends growing up and that the families lived around the corner from one other.  Dr. Post’s mother would always tell my sister “Gerald wants to become a veterinarian, ever since he was young.”  Well, Dr. Post, on behalf of myself and all your patients, all I can say is, we are so very thankful that you did!!!