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Case of the Month

Sweetheart Fights Cancer With Angel Fund’s Help

Sweetheart Fights Cancer  With Angel Fund’s Help

In September, 2015, Elaine Leonard’s 14-year-old cat, Sweetheart, was not feeling well.  She was coughing and lethargic and Elaine decided she should take her to see her veterinarian.

She lives in Orange and OC Veterinary Medical Center, owned by Dr. Jeffery Horn, was not far from her home.  Doctors there ran tests and examined Sweetheart, a Maine Coon breed.  They found respiratory problems and a large mass in her chest. They suspected cancer and lymphoma.  She also had some other physical issues.

Dr. Cooper (a veterinarian who no longer works at the hospital) told Elaine that “this is serious.  Sweetheart has a very large mass and you’d better think about things and what you want to do.”  She added that the animal might need surgery.

“I told them that I was not going to let my 14-year-old cat have surgery,” Elaine said.  She was concerned because of Sweetheart’s age and because of the expense – she did not believe she could afford an operation.

Dr. Horn prescribed antibiotics and pain medication and referred Elaine to Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, which has several oncology specialists on staff.  Sweetheart was examined there in November by Dr. David Bommarito, who is board certified in both oncology and radiation oncology.

Dr. Bommarito told Elaine that her cat might be treatable with chemotherapy.  But she chose to provide palliative care.  “My option for choosing palliative care was that   I couldn’t afford the expense of chemo treatment and didn’t want her to suffer any possible side effects,” Elaine said.

 A retiree on a fixed income, she applied to Angel Fund for help with her bill.  Her request was granted.  Veterinary Cancer Group also contributed.  Elaine said that “of course” she appreciated the help and said that she also appreciated what Angel Fund has done to help many other pet owners.

She took Sweetheart home – although she had regular appointments with Dr. Horn.  The cat did pretty well for a few months.  “She was walking around and eating and drinking until shortly before she died” on March 25, 2016, Elaine said.  “On that last visit to Dr. Horn, he said to bring her in when you’re ready” for euthanasia. 

But, she said, Sweetheart seemed to be doing OK. “I had her on morphine and I just wanted to keep her comfortable. She was eating and drinking and responding.  A week before she passed – she was a big cat and she’d never done this before – she pawed her was up on my bed and she got very close to me and she lay down next to my body.  She never had cuddled with me before.”

Within a few days Sweetheart was gone.