I have your full attention and yes there will be adorable cat interest stories to entertain you, so fear not dear reader. I make this assertion: blog posts, essays, and cute tongue in cheek stories about cats and kittens attract far more readers than similar stories about any kind of cancer. I’m fairly certain of this without even checking the statistical data. I might have this all wrong, but I doubt it.

If a kitten could invade your body physically, you’d know it. I don’t mean a “sitting in your lap purring” invasion of your personal space, I mean getting into your body traveling around a la the Disney movie “Inner Space,” in which a family is shrunk down to the size of a baby flea injected into the bloodstream of a human being. I recall the roller coaster ride at one of the Disney properties in Orlando, Florida supporting the film. I bet it took in millions in ticket sales from the drones lined up in snaking hours-long waits for a single minute of thrills. I cringe at the idea almost as much as I cringe at the idea of Silicon Valley rush hour traffic, bile of rage welling up in each driver hours before jumping into a pool of BMWs and Priuses.

Back to my subject matter – cats versus cancer. Cancer cannot compare in the arena of adorable versus ugly. Cats win hands down. The statistics about cats do not make people cringe, unless they’re cat haters or sociopathic torturers. Other than some dogs, the occasional wolf or coyote, certain birds of prey, and most carnivorous mammals larger than a cat that may view puss in boots as a nice appetizer for supper, nothing and no one really hates a kitten or cat. Even Grumpy Cat, that self-loathing short-legged curmudgeon. His or her angry-looking furrowed kitty brow genetically beaten in by human torturers kind of like a form of cancer. Nothing a little radiation therapy couldn’t handle.

Believe it or not, cats, not only dogs, can detect breast cancer. At least British kittens can. Recently, a women in the UK claimed that her kitten would wake up in the morning and jump on its owner’s right breast. She let this go in for two weeks until she visited her physician. It turned out the kitten sensed she had stage one breast cancer, and now the woman is on her way to a full recovered. See the article referenced below for the whole story.

There’s marked differences between cats and cancer. It’s no surprise these differences create a preference for cat content over cancer content. And although a kitten created a happy, lucky breast cancer survivor, this is one of the few Venn Diagrams containing both kittens and cancer with any overlapping area at all. Instead, if you were to think about the two topics, you’d draw the diagram in two distinct and separate circles: one labeled “cats” and the other labeled “cancer.”

Why? Cancer doesn’t playfully attack you – it aggressively wages war on your body. It’s not aloof or passive aggressive, just aggressive. It doesn’t purr or meow. Your friends don’t say, “ohhhhh! Such a cute little cancer you’ve adopted. What’s her name?” My cancer, as with other people with incurable cancer that eventually kills us if the treatments don’t do us in first, is named “metastatic” or “stage 4.” Cancer won’t play with a toy or a ball of yarn, it plays tricks and hides from mammograms if you have dense breast tissue, like me. It can’t smell catnip nor will it steal your ham or turkey sandwich. It won’t let you pet its head or scratch behind its ears. It hardly allows you to poison it with chemotherapy, radiate it or even cut it out surgically. Best of all, you needn’t buy Cancer a litter box or a food dish or food to fill the dish. Cancer lives in its very own self replenishing food dish. I am it’s food dish and it will eat me alive. I’m also it’s litter box and it’s cat tree. It doesn’t ask or meow to go outside and every once in a while I take it on a vacation with me or to a cancer retreat to entertain it! Lucky cancer is even treated to large doses of its favorite treat, cortisol, whenever I become stressed. I have a very obedient cancer. It responds well to chemotherapy first Xeloda and now Ibrance.

Unfortunately my health coverage doesn’t quite cut it for this latest round of treatment to get it out of my liver. So I reached out to the Patients Advocacy Foundation and they are funding the $3000 copay that I cannot even begin to cover. Cancer pounced aggressively on my financial life from diagnosis, forcing me to get out of the workforce and spend many days at home. With my cat. And not much more company than that 90% of the time.

A cat will make you feel a little better if you do have cancer by showing you love and affection, and in my case remaining with me in bed when I feel terrible or on the days when I cannot bring myself to fight the fatigue. He’s around when the humans in my world disappear, some never to return again. But my cat only leaves my side to eat or use his litter box. I know if he had opposable thumbs he’d feed me and bring me soup and things to drink. He allows me to cry in his fur and won’t run away when I talk about uncomfortable subjects. Simon loves me unconditionally, while my cancer hates me unconditionally.

So here’s some entertainment for you to forget about cancer for a while and the article from the Daily Mail about the cancer detecting kitten. But I hope you’ll come back again to read more about the uncomfortable topic of how stage IV breast cancer in the form of invasive lobular carcinoma with metastasis to the bones and now the liver, aim to destroy a woman and how she lives in relative peace and happiness, regardless of what rages on inside and outside of her physical body.

Kittens Boxing in a Ring, circa 1894
The oldest known film of kittens
YouTube’s oldest cat video (movie?) made in July 1894, not posted until the 2010’s

My Kitten Alerted Me to Cancer
Kitten saves British woman from rare form of breast cancer
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My phone call to Cancer’s customer service

A transcript of my imaginary phone call to The Cancer Store’s unhelpful desk. While the veracity of these two seemingly innocent characters is dubious, the names are changed to protect their identities, so by reading any farther, you waive your rights to any legal action should they bear any resemblance to anything or anyone living (or dead.)

Cut into conversation in progress between an agent the Cancer Store (CS) and dissatisfied client (Me):

Me: No, I ABSOLUTELY HATE having metastatic breast cancer. (Blows nose, whimpering)

CS: Mmmm hmmm. (Background sound: filing fingernails)

Me: Can I return it, please?

CS: Our product works very well, right? (Smug, mocking)

Me: This product works exactly as it should, yes indeed, too well. Although, I really hate the overall ownership experience. (Getting tense)
Me: Where do I send it back?
Me: Hey look, I don’t appreciate your attitude. Ridiculous! The total cost of ownership adds up to an exorbitant amount of money. I can’t see the value in a million plus dollars a year to treat it. And it never shuts up. Keeps me up all night, doesn’t let me hold a full time job…and it’s wrong, all wrong. I want my life back not stupid Cancer!
CS: (Yawns audibly, sniffs) Yep. Umm hmm.
Me: Well, I can’t afford it and it really just doesn’t fit me at all. So I’m sending it back.
CS: Did you receive our free sample and try it? (several people giggling call now on speakerphone)
Me: Yes, but I swear I never asked for it. (Begin tears)
CS: Ma’am for the last time, it IS all your fault. Of course you deserve it. Don’t you remember the time you stole Barbie clothes on Easter from a drugstore open on Easter when you were nine years old? (Uproarious laughter from crowd of people on speakerphone)
Me: Is that when I picked it up? I would think…
CS: Really? You would think? (Sarcastically sounding like the Charmin Toilet Paper man)
Me: Look! I learned my lesson and that was over 40 years ago! I was a child. This doesn’t seem fair. The cancer I got just keeps growing, and somehow no one could even detected it for years. Now, it runs off and hides from treatment. I would never order a generic anyway…I would ask for it by name brand, not just generic C A N C E R. (Spells out Cancer, desperation in voice)
CS: Oh dear, you have the wrong department, I need to put you on an eternal hold in which you will hear only dead silence. What stage did you purchase, ma’am?
Me: Stage 4, well I didn’t purchase anything at ALL! That’s the reason why I called your so-called service department in the first place. (Sounding triumphant)
CS: The number 4? As in metastatic cancer? I only show “lobular breast cancer” on our order form, miss. You may have to speak with a supervisor. Please sit silently on hold for the rest of your life.
Me: Wait! WAIT!!! What did you say? Wrong department or you’re getting your supervisor? Hey!
CS: Both. Oh, wait before I put you on hold, would you mind taking a survey to help us improve our service? And we are running a special on chemotherapy from the creators of your cancer epidemic! We’d be thrilled to help you with your treatments in a lifetime contract service plan. Don’t worry we kill 113 people from Metastatic Breast Cancer every single day!
Me: You have got to be kidding me!
(Clicking noise followed by dead air, Cancer customer puts phone on speaker phone but cannot hang up… fast forward to surreal scene of a bedroom 50 years in the future to the skeletal remains and hair on the floor of my former physical self, as the new demolition boats come to tear down the now oceanfront house, in San Jose, California.)
The End