Angel Dude Phil

(September? 1989 - September 11, 2001)

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Phil was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma in his mouth in the beginning of April, 2001. It was a freak accident in the late evening of March 27 that lead to his diagnosis.

On that evening, Phil and his littermate Don were play-wrestling in the kitchen. They were brought up together and were very close brothers. They always did things together. They slept together, and they played together. Their play-wrestling session usually started with one of them arching his back and approaching the other sideways, sometimes making a threatening (which sounds too cute to be a threatening) meow. Usually Phil was the one who makes this supposed to be intimidating meow. Then the wrestling starts. They grab hold of each other and give kitty-kicks with their hind legs. One gets tough and offensive, and the other gets submissive and defensive, but they changed roles often within a session. When they get tired after a while, they simply sit face to face and start washing each other's back and neck. How I miss watching this wonderful, heartwarming ritual...

That evening, something went wrong. Phil made a horrible yelp and started running around the house like crazy while crying. I couldn't figure out what had happened. I tried to get hold of him but he kept running, himself not knowing what was happening to him. He finally stopped running and was on the desk in the home office. I looked at him and noticed his tongue was hanging out from the side of his mouth. He seemed unable to move his tongue, and he was in pain. I panicked for a moment, but got hold of myself quickly and got out a telephone book. I started to look for an emergency clinic where I can take him in right away. It was about 9:30 P.M. I found one which was about 20 minutes away and called them and told them I was bringing in my Phil.

All the way to the clinic, Phil cried from the pain. I kept telling him that he will be all right, that I will take care of him. I was in a panic mode and forgot to look up the address of the clinic in the map and I got lost! I drove around the vicinity of the clinic several times until I finally found it. When we went in to the clinic, they took him to the back right away to take a look what was wrong with Phil. While I was filling out the paperwork, a vet tech came out and told me that somehow Phil's tongue was caught between his teeth and got stuck, but the doctor dislodged it and Phil is OK now. She told me to wait in one of the exam rooms until the doctor brings Phil back. While I was waiting in the room, I heard two people talking behind the door about someone having cancer, but I didn't think they were talking about my Phil.

When the doctor finally came in the room without Phil, she had a very serious look on her face. She started to explain about Phil's tongue and her guess as to what caused it to get caught between his teeth. She said they found a small "lesion" in his mouth, near the base of his tongue, and she thought this lesion was the cause. She also told me that Phil's teeth needed cleaning badly (which I knew, but I wasn't so keen on putting him under anesthesia and kept postponing) and recommended asking my regular vet to take a look at this lesion at the same time. She didn't say it was tumor, but she virtually "ordered" me to go visit the vet the next day, without fail, because she was faxing the paperwork to them. (I didn't have a chance to look at their exam report, but it could have been written in there that she suspected a cancerous tumor, which she called a "lesion.") The next morning, I called my regular vet and explained what happened the night before and made an appointment for the next day for Phil's dental work.

On the following morning, I dropped Phil off at the hospital. The doctor was to call me when Phil's dental work was done. She called me at my work around 11:30. I was expecting to hear that everything was OK and his "lesion" was just an ulcer or something benign. Instead, the doctor's voice was subdued. She told me that by the look of the lesion, she suspects it is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and wants to do biopsy of it while Phil is under the anesthesia. Actually I couldn't catch the name of the cancer when she told me on the phone. She went on to explain if it is indeed squamous cell carcinoma, Phil will going to live only a couple of weeks to a couple of months. I was totally unprepared for the news.

I was on an autopilot the rest of the day. During the hours and days that followed that phone call, I kept up a false hope that the doctor was wrong and there was nothing wrong with Phil's mouth. The result of the biopsy was not expected to come back for almost a week. It was a very difficult wait. I started searching on the Web about various oral tumors in cats. Because I didn't remember what the name of the cancer was, I was just collecting any information that I came across on oral tumors in cats. The one that had the worst prognosis was SCC. I tried to persuade myself that Phil's lesion was not SCC.

(To be continued)

If you want to add your cancer kitty to this site, please contact Phil and Holly's mom.