Squamous Cell What?

I wanted to provide an update since I started my new job. First of all, I’m loving it! Today I played ping pong with one of the creatives. I haven’t written in quite some time because I’ve been taking the time to settle into my new job and to come to terms with what’s new with my family.

Mila after radiation treatment

Mila after radiation treatment

One week before I started my job, my baby Mila’s veterinarian phoned to say that she has squamous cell carcinoma and the prognosis did not look good. As you can imagine, I felt helpless and thoughts rushed into my head similar to the time that my dear Ken was diagnosed with that awful word, cancer. So yes, my poor feline has cancer at the age of 14. The good news is that our vet called a veterinary oncologist who said he believed that Mila had a 70-80% success rate with radiation. I was overwhelmed with hope and happy that my Mila could have a better quality of life and live longer. I had never heard of success rates with cancer. Of course, the treatments are expensive but she is my baby and she deserves this care. Dr. Hamilton of the Georgia Veterinary Specialists is one of the first veterinary oncologists in the country and he’s here in Atlanta, how lucky could we be?

The first day I took Mila in for radiation, the second day of my new job, I sobbed because it reminded me so much of Ken and when he started radiation treatments. They are so similar, the staging, protocol, timing, everything – how could I not remember? My point here is that cancer is everywhere, even affecting our dear pets and loved ones. Thankfully, I joined a company that recognizes that pets are family members and they have given me great leniency with coming into the office and working from home.

The only side affects from the radiation are being tired from the sedation (she has to be sedated each time) so it’s like she’s going through a mini-surgery every week night in that I have to take food away from her and she can’t eat until the procedure is over. This affects Pickle’s life too, our other family feline, and I’ve decided to join them and not eat breakfast until after Mila’s treatment is over.

I can’t believe that we are going through this again but Mila has been extremely brave and has made me hopeful. Life tests you and all we can do is try to persevere and live day to day taking what is thrown our way.

I went to a restorative yoga class tonite and saw a reflection on the ceiling that reminded me of a shadow of Ken laying down while he was receiving pranic healing. The shadow is from prayer flags hanging from the ceiling. A prayer flag is a colorful panel of rectangular cloth often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas to bless the surrounding countryside. Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to ‘gods,’ a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all. When I looked closer at the ceiling I saw rays of light coming from the figure. It made me weep with sadness remembering my sweet Ken and missing him so badly when Hector, his pranic healer, spoke of Ken and that he saw rays of light and energy emanating from him.



It will be five months next week from his death and it still feels so surreal. I continue to answer emails from this blog to try to help others affected by this horrible cancer.


13 responses to “Squamous Cell What?”

  1. Cris says :

    God bless you, you are so brave !

  2. Ursula says :

    Dear Tina,
    Thank you for sharing. Yes I’ve heard that cats have fairly high risk of skin cancer, especially since they like to sleep in the sun or sunny window sill.
    Of all the skin cancers, squamous cell is the least harmful, at least in humans.
    I’m a physician, not a vet though.
    Just want to say, so sorry for your loss and your words and description of the flag was so beautiful, so spiritual. I’m new and have read some of Ken’s and your blog by now. He was so blessed to have you there by his side, the whole time. That love you shared was an amazing gift always to be cherished.
    I send you love and hope you will enjoy your new job. You deserve it.
    Reading through the blog I wasn’t sure how long he tried the NovoTTF, just
    curious, as it’s something I am considering? My understanding of the device, which is minimal, is that it is a long term slower working device. Seems someone would need to wear it for months, at minimum, to see any benefits.

    • Tina says :

      Hi Ursula,

      Thank you for your kind words. The doctors told me squamous was usually lethal in cats if it was inside her mouth. Thankfully, we found the growth on her chin and they removed it all in surgery. The radiation should get the areas outside.

      I believe that Ken wore the Novocure device for about 3 months and then the cancer grew back after his second surgery (check the block in June, 2012 timeframe). We had high hopes for the device and felt it would have done more if he had the opportunity to wear it sooner. The problem is they won’t let you do both because then they can’t tell what’s working. In hindsight, they should let patients try everything no matter what because nothing seems to be working so far in fighting this cancer.

  3. Chris Rief says :

    Hugs sweet girl !!!

  4. Carolyn Weddington says :

    I am so happy for you that your new job is going well. Your concern for Mila’ s cancer while grieving Ken’s death and adjusting to life without his physical presence gives a glimpse into the depth of your spiritual strength and resolve. I think of you and Ken often. Please keep us informed.

    • Tina says :

      My dear Carolyn, thank you for your heartfelt words and I think of you and Rusty often. I will call you soon.

  5. Anonymous says :

    Hi Tina . So sorry to here about your beloved pet. I’m sure she will pull through. Yes it’s so true life does test you, however I believe some of us have to endure more heartache than others. Just like you I lost my husband on February 8th to the same disease just four weeks after I lost my poor little dog Judy to liver cancer..on January 4th… During my husbands illness [ Christmas week ]Judy fell ill she only survived a week after diagnosis it was so quick…It seems that in America you have more treatment options available to help prolong life for patients with this cruel disease, I have never heard of Novacure my husbands treatment just consisted of radiotherapy and the chemotherapy. I agree Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    Thank you for updating kens blog… Best wishes in you new job…

    Take care. Marilyn…..

    • Tina says :

      Hi Marilyn,
      I’m so very sorry you lost your husband and dear pet and around the Holidays too! Thanks for your kind words.


  6. PJ Walker (@PJAtlanta) says :

    My heart aches for you as I know you’ve lost your husband and best friend. This past Saturday was 1 year since the death of my mother to multiple myleoma (blood marrow cancer) and I’m still missing her every day. I will keep your beautiful Mila in my prayers for a great recovery during and after her treatments and I join with the other responders in thanking you for keeping Ken’s blog updated.

  7. Sirkka Koskinen says :

    All the best wishes for your future, with your beautiful memories!

  8. andrea scott says :

    Hi tina,
    Thank you for keeping us updated with how you are getting on. You are so strong and it makes me feel so much stronger reading your words. My family are struggling with the end symptoms of this terrible disease in my mother and it is truly heart breaking to watch someone only 51 years old facing the end of their life. All the best with your new job and i hope your cat heals well. stay positive x x

    • Tina says :

      Hi Andrea,

      I’m so sory to hear about your mother & your family’s struggle. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. We have to life each other up in order to continue on in this world.

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