approximate birthdate: 1991

    age when diagnosed: 12
    date of diagnosis: 12/03

    rear leg tripod

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1. when did you notice the lump, what was the size and where was it located, was it low on the leg or higher - closer to your cat's body    I noticed the lump in the fall. It was removed in December or November. Her amputation was in January or February. Everything happened fast. She was gone within 6-8 months of first finding the lump. But it was not VAS that killed her. It was Carcinoma.

2. when was kitty last vaccinated    Sollie's last vaccination before that was no more than a year or two. She is the only cat to have gotten VAS from the vet's office where she got her shots. (In TN). They were all shocked.

3. how long did you wait to have it removed    Not very long. It is best not to wait. Get it out ASAP.

4. was this your cat's first surgery for VAS    She had a lumpectomy, and then an amputation a few months later.

5. Did you consult with a specialist or oncologist?    Yes, Dr. Christine Anderson at Angell Memeorial in Boston. She was great.

6. who removed the lump (regular vet or surgeon)   Specialized surgeon brought into my vet's office. I can't remember his name, but he got clean margins!

7. how long did your cat stay at the vet's after surgery    One night I think. She was doing great. I visited her that day. She was walking around that day too they told me. She got over it REALLY fast! It was amazing. It didn't phase her.

8. did you do anything special to prepare for your kitty's homecoming    We stayed at a friend's apartment. My house had too many stairs. I built her steps up to the couch. I had all her toys and blankets that she loved. I spent a lot of time talking to her and loving her.

9. what was your cat's adjustment period like    Sollie was fine from day one. If i had known i wouldn't have waited to do the amputation..but i needed time to prepare mentally for it. Cats have 4 legs...losing one is nothing. She took it all in stride. She knew i loved her and did all i could for her.

Sollie Snyder's Story....

I begged my father for a cat for months..maybe a year. I was 12 years old. I wanted a cat for my bat mitzva. I drove my family nuts. I interjected "Dad, can I have a cat?" into every phrase or sentence..."Pass the salad, Can I have a cat?", "How was your day dad? Can I have a cat?", "Dad, I-- can I have a cat--love you". My sister remembers that I put up signs all over the house too. I don't remember that. My dad finally said yes. (He hated cats, b/c they had a very mean one when he was younger who attacked the way, he ended up loving Sollie. Instead of yelling at me to clean the litter box when i was a kid, he would do it for me many times). After camp the summer of 1991--my Bday is in late April--I was allowed to go to the pound and pick out a kitten. The rules? Had to be short haired, had to be a kitten, and he preferred females (all our dogs have always been female). I wanted a black and white cat. The only black and white kitten were in a litter with the mother cat, and they were all very feral. There was a long haired black and white cat who had a sign to hold for 3 days. She was then to be put to sleep. She was dirty and needed a bath, but she was very sweet...purring and beautiful. I wanted that one. My mother said no way. My father would flip. My sister found this scrawny grey kitten with yellowish eyes and a tan belly. A tabby kitten. The kitten was purring so frantically. The kitten chose me. The man at the pound wrote "grey male kitten" on the adoption certificate. I took "him" home. My neighbor, who always had lots of cats, informed me that this kitten was in no way shape or form a male. The vet confirmed it. Sollie was a female... Her yellowish eyes turned bright emerald green once she got proper care and nutrition. She was stunning. Even the vet coldn't get over her eyes...She really was a princess...and didn't she know it.

I loved her from the beginning. But I was a kid. I held her when she wanted to be put down. I harrassed her some i suppose. She was never a lap cat. She loved to play, did amazing flips, loved milk (i know now that it's bad for them...but i only gave her a tiny bit now and then anyway), she loved treats, tuna fish, and her cat dancer toy. There were times when we were apart and she lived wth my parents. When I was in college, and she finally came to live with me my senior year, we really bonded. A small apartment, just us and a roommate--who loved her and got her own cat after i graduated and moved on. We really formed a strong bond of love. She has told animal communicators that that is when my heart opened. Looking back, it makes a lot of sense. Later in her life she really started to cuddle more. She always slept touching me. She often cuddled next to my side. I loved her soft fur next to my skin. Sollie was my angel, my princes, my "Solamina", "Hunny bunny", "Sollie Wiccan", "Chollie Wiccan/Chicken", "Prinsepeca". "booba" (doll in hebrew), and so many more names. Sollie Woo was a favorite.

A few years before she got sick, I asked my vet how to ensure that she lived a long life. He suggested changing her food. I put her on Purina Pro Plan and/or Purina One...It was the best food i knew...what the vet suggested. She never had canned food. He also knew i didn't have money for expensive food, but he is not the type to suggest designer pet food anyway. Then he suggested I get her teeth cleaned. I did, although my father didn't agree, and i ended up not even telling him until after the fact. I used some of my savings to pay for it.

Then, in the fall of 2002, my roommate noticed a lump on the back of her leg. I didn't know what it was. I knew she was due for her shots anyway, so I rushed a vet visit. The vet didn't have a good bedside manner. He said no shots until we figure this out. I didn't understand. I thought w/out the shots she was at risk for worse things than a small lump. He did a biopsy. It was cancer. Vaccine Associated Sarcoma...VAS.

I changed to a cat only vet in an upperclass area. I wanted the best. I was scared. We decided to remove the lump and take wide margins. The thought of amputating a leg horrified me.

We did not get clean margins. After about 1.5-2 months of very serious contemplation, i decided we needed to amputate. I had also taken her to a specialist, a veterinary oncologist. Amputation was the way to go. I had a specialized surgeon do the surgery. We got clean margins! Sollie was even walking around the vet's office the day of the surgery. I did everything I could to save her. I built her steps up to the couch while she healed. I pampered her. I loved her. I brushed her (she loved that). I spoke sweatly to her. She purred and purred.

Before the amputation we had done x-rays. Her body did not have lumps anywhere else. I wanted to be sure that I was not putting her through unnecessary surgery when she may die anyway. I didn't want to make my baby suffer. All of the doctors felt amputation would be the answer. And we had cought it early enough to hopefully get it all. We did. Sollie beat VAS. But sadly, the story does not end here.

About 3 months after her surgery, she was hopping along fine. Getting up the stairs on 3 legs, playing with her cat dancers, and plastic milk top rings. Still the same 'ol Sollie. But the hair was not growing in right on her body. It was thin and fine and not fur like. I didn't think much of it, but I wondered why. Other cat's fur was growing in fine...i saw pictures on the VAS site...

One night before I was going to NYC for my grandmother's 80th Bday party, Sollie was breathing very strangely. The next morning I rushed her to the vet. I walked in the door, took her out of the carrier and said "put her in an oxygen cage quick!" They rushed to comply. They saw. They knew.

They pumped the fluid out of her lungs. It contained Carcinoma cells. "BUT YOU SAID WE GOT IT ALL! HOW CAN THAT BE?!!?" ....They told me that Carcinoma is unrelated to VAS. Sollie had another, even more haneous, kind of cancer. It hadn't come up in any of the previous blood tests or x-rays. She was dying.

I left her at the vet for the weekend. They kept her on oxygen. They assured me she wouldn't die while i was away.

I took her home. I was supposed to go away for 2 weeks at the end of the month. I wanted to know what to do. They told me not to go...and that she may not even make it that far. I was a wreck. All of the fighting and surgery and now Carcinoma?! What a sick joke.

I took a week off of work the week before Sollie's crossing. I spent almost every waking moment by her side. Talking to her, petting her, brushing her. She even played with her toys ever so slightly...She at least still showed interest. She purred nonstop....soothing herself...soothing me.

I had the vet come to the house. She hated the car and the vet's office even more. I had planned on a Monday, but she needed to go sooner. I called the vet in a panic, and Sollie was released from her sick body over the weekend. April 14, 2003. She was just under 12 years old. (She was born in the summer of 1991). I had a funeral for her on Monday. She was laid to rest in Dedham, MA in a beatiful pet cemetery. On a hill overlooking a big field.

Sollie is still with me. I have pictures of her everywhere. I talk to her, I think about her. Sometimes she visits me in my dreams. She has told me via two animal communicators that she plans to return to me in 3-5 years. I even had that validated several weeks ago. She still "has her paws" involved in my life.

Sollie said that letting her go showed absolute and true love. She opened my heart and taught me to love. That was her goal here. She accomplished it, and she was content. She knew it was her time. She actually stayed longer than she planned, b/c I needed her. Speaking to an animal communicator was the most amazing experience. It put me at peace with so much. There is no doubt in my mind that it was real...The commincator knew too was Sollie's soul.

To all of the humans and kitties who are suffering through VAS or any other kind of cancer....just know that every living creature has it's time to cross over. They are still with us, they still love us, and sometimes they even come back to us again in this life. We never lose those who cross over...we only lose their physical presense. Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there....Ask any can't see gas...but what explosions that can cause.

Love knows no bounds. Sure I miss my Sollie's bright green emerald eyes and chinchilla-like fur. But she is looking over me, and she will come back to me again soon.

G-d Bless you all. Be strong for your furkids.

May the world know only peace and goodness.

White Healing Light from Boston,

--Hila Snyder, Spirit Sollie, "Kitty Man" Felix Berger Snyder, and Delia "Dilly" C. Snyder--


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