For today’s patient story, we happily introduce you to Sugar – a kitty who lives up to her sweet name. In late January, Sugar was diagnosed with mammary cancer and came to us as a referral from Dr. Calvin Lum of San Francisco Veterinary Housecalls. We at VCA SFVS are lucky to work so closely with such a talented veterinarian.
Jeanette, Sugar’s human companion, beautifully writes about Sugar’s story here. She also sent us some fabulous photos, included below. Thank you, Jeanette, for allowing us to be a part of Sugar’s veterinary care team. We’ve loved getting to know both of you!
Sugar’s story, written by Jeanette:
Sugar’s Arrival Story
Prior to adopting Sugar we had two kitties, Chai, a mellow Lynx Point Siamese mix, and Little Bit, a very playful tabby. We decided that Little Bit needed a playmate, so on Super Bowl Sunday 2008 we went to Maddie’s Adoption Center at the San Francisco SPCA.
I was wandering around looking in the rooms and reading the bios on the windows and I found one that sounded like a good fit. She was a six year old tabby who had been at Maddie’s for six months. I looked into the room but I could not see a kitty. Then I looked down and saw that she was at the door looking up and meowing at me.
A volunteer took us in the room and we sat down on the floor. The kitty immediately jumped in my lap and gave me a nose kiss. Then she jumped in Bill’s lap and gave him a nose kiss. Bill said, “Who do we make the check out to?”. Her name at the shelter was Colette, but on the way home we renamed her Sugar.
Sugar is an absolute sweetheart and lives up to her name every day. She is very loving and connects with all who visit our home. She is eleven years old now and she is still a very playful kitty. She can have fun with anything – a tube of Chapstick, a dust bunny or a paper bag or box.
Sugar and Little Bit love to romp and play together. We call them “The Tabby Terrors” and their 6 am wrestling matches on our bed are a regular routine. They also have their quiet moments as “Tabby Bookends” sitting on our futon enjoying our sunroom window.
Sugar loves to eat and she can tell time. If we don’t realize it is 7 pm (Treat Time when the kitties get their Tiki Cat) Sugar reminds us quite vocally!
Sugar’s Mammary Cancer
[In early January of this year, Jeanette felt a lump on Sugar, and had Dr. Lum examine her. He extracted fluid from the lump and let Jeanette know the bad news. Sugar was then referred to VCA SFVS, where she met surgeon Dr. Margo Mehl and oncologist Dr. Stephen Atwater. After some testing, Sugar had surgery to remove the tumor.]
I was devastated and scared when we learned that Sugar had mammary cancer. Sugar’s tumor was malignant, which was not surprising since that is the case with a high percentage of feline mammary tumors. The surgeon did not see any evidence of the cancer in the lymph nodes and the type of cancer Sugar has is slow replicating. So for now, nothing further is recommended except monitoring Sugar very closely to detect any new tumors. She’ll be going back for monthly check-ups for a while.
When I shared her story with others, I was surprised at how many people, many of them pet owners, don’t know that animals can get mammary cancer. So I decided to do two things.
First, I signed up to participate in the San Francisco Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in September 2013. Sugar will be my mascot and together we will raise money to end breast cancer and raise awareness of mammary cancer in animals.
Second, I created a website called Sugarrub.org. The goal of the website is to encourage pet owners to do regular breast exams on their pets and to raise funds to aid cancer research for animals. Sugar often sits on the counter next to me so she can snoopervise while I work on the website.
- Visit SugarRub.org to learn more about Sugar and animal mammary tumors.
- Read more about mammary tumors in cats on the VCA SFVS website.