As Pink began losing ground in his fight against Renal Lymphoma, I began more seriously researching his condition and becoming proactive again, looking into complementary therapies and natural remedies to support the conventional treatment he was receiving. 

Listen while you read to “Heaven”, from the “blue side” of the Panache Orchestra’s dual album “10 Strings” released in 2008. We need some “divine intervention”.

May 1st, 2012

Since Pink’s condition began to gradually taper off in mid-April and decline going into May after a dramatic recovery following his original diagnosis on March 1st, I began trawling the internet for information about complementary methods of natural healing to use alongside the “traditional” chemotherapy treatment protocol Pink was undergoing, and was nonplussed at the dearth of information about naturopathic and holistic health care options for cats. Being proactive makes me feel good, while being worried and grieved makes me feel totally ineffective and shitty.

Pink’s energy and activity level declined steeply between his last hospital visit on April 27 when his white blood cell count was found to be too low to have his next chemo treatment, and except for one “good” day on May 1st, the malaise continued into early May. By May 3rd, he would hardly eat regular food anymore.

Pink in the tower with Jaco ca. late April 2012

In an attempt to lift his spirits and give him some motivation during that time, I began letting Pink come outside when I did “chotto soto” with Gureyo (that means, “outside for a little bit” in Japanese). Gureyo has had a long-running tradition of accompanying Chi whenever he went out on the balcony to smoke, and even though he quit smoking a few years ago, we have kept up the tradition with Gureyo, who likes to munch on cat grass I grow in a container for her and keep on the front veranda. Gureyo and Jaco (the two adult Panache Cats) are trained to stay on the veranda when they come out front with us. Laxmi (Pink’s sister), being a very skittish feral cat, does not go outside (unless she falls out a window which she has done a couple times) since she is extremely difficult to catch. Thankfully she has been able to find her way back home whenever she has gotten out. The first time we let Pink come outside with us, he almost immediately took off running down the stairs and up to the next door neighbors’ porch and was about to jump over the wall to the wild blue yonder, but thankfully stopped when I chased him and called him and he let me pick him up and take him back inside. I figured his energy level was so low that he would not try to run off in the condition he was in now.

Interestingly, he seemed very purposeful about eating grass (which he had never shown much interest in before) with Gureyo, as if he knew that was what his body needed to fight the cancer (grass is full of chlorophyll, as well as alkalizing and a lot of other good, anticarcinogenic things! I had recently learned from comments to a random post on FaceBook that a well-oxygenated alkaline system is a hostile environment to cancer cells. I corroborated this by independently researching it), and he really enjoyed and looked forward to “chotto soto time”. It was also a great opportunity to just hang out and be with him. He also liked to walk down the stairs. I would follow him down the stairs from the balcony down to the front gate, then pick him up and take him back up on the porch, then he would walk down again, and we’d do that several times during each “chotto soto”, so he was getting some gentle exercise and fresh air and sunshine as well as an anti-cancer snack two or three times a day.

Given the aforementioned dearth of information about alternative cancer treatments specific to cats, I was left with little choice but to spend hours on end absolutely scouring the cyberverse for anecdotal reports of using remedies designed for humans successfully on cats and dogs. Unfortunately in doing this I almost immediately got confounded by a paralyzing flood of information that completely overwhelmed my capacity to process it, crippling my ability to access information that was truly helpful. Making it relevant to cats would involve drilling down much deeper.

The first thing I tried was a runoff between a product called “ES Clear” and a totally different substance called “Cantron”. Since the Cantron cost considerably less and we were financially tapped out from Pink’s chemo treatments, I ordered some of that. It arrived on Saturday afternoon, May 5th.

By Sunday, May 6, the day Chi left for his solo tour, Pink would no longer eat regular food at all, and his energy level was down to the point where he was spending most of his time just lying around the house. He was still very willing to eat grass though. Anyway, now that Chi was gone I was free to implement the next phase of the plan to heal Pink through natural means. I rode off to Whole Foods and bought some cottage cheese, flaxseed oil and some cod liver oil capsules (and a bunch of other stuff) and set about whipping up a small batch of the Budwig Diet that numerous anecdotal reports indicate is highly effective in combatting cancer, including for animals.

The good thing about this new regimen (Cantron & Budwig) is that we can do it together. I’ve been taking the supplements along with Pink in solidarity with him, just as the rest of the Panache Cats boycott food in solidarity when he loses his appetite. The Budwig diet was ok taste-wise, but the Cantron was most seriously horrifying! In fact, it made Pink chuck up all his meds the first time I gave it to him. He didn’t seem too keen on the Budwig mix either, even though it was infinitely less offensive.

Monday, May 7

When I went home for lunch and took Pink and Gureyo out front for “chotto-soto”, something didn’t seem quite right about Pink. I looked at his eyes and noticed that something was indeed very wrong. The pupils were way too dilated for the bright sunlight. I picked him up and faced him in the general direction of the bright mid-afternoon sun and his pupils didn’t contract when they should have become barely-visible slits under such conditions. Not good. I brought the cats back in and called his doctor at the specialist hospital where he has been having his cancer treatments and set an appointment for later that afternoon. This would be challenging since Chi had the truck in Arizona, and I didn’t think Pink’s condition was stable enough to handle a scooter ride all the way to West Hollywood from Chinatown.

I looked at what mass transit options were available and found an express bus running from about a mile down Sunset Blvd. from us with a stop right by the hospital, give or take a block on either side, so I put Pink in the soft carrier and covered it with a bath towel, balanced it on my knees with the carry strap around my neck and set off on Sparky to the bus stop. I parked Sparky in a stall in the parking lot of a supermarket on that corner and hoped fervently that I wouldn’t get a ticket, and carried Pink over to the bus stop. The bus came along eventually and then we commenced an incredibly long, slow, bumpy ride to the hospital. And that’s the express bus?! I hate to imagine what the local would have been like.

Pink abord my scooter about to be taken to the hospital

The bus ride took so long that we didn’t even get to the hospital until about 10 minutes after they close for the regular daytime hours, but thankfully the doctor who was to see Pink for this appointment (who happened to be the one recommended by our regular vet that did his original intake appointment) waited for us and examined Pink’s eyes. Pink’s blood pressure was normal (high blood pressure is a common cause of retinal detachment in cats) and there was no evidence of injury or infection to his eyes, so the doctor’s best guess was that the cancer had come back, jumped from his lymph system to his bloodstream and was now attacking his eyes. We had checked his white blood cell count and it had improved significantly since it was last checked four days earlier. Pink and I got on the bus for the interminable ride home, and I resolved to redouble my efforts at identifying potentially helpful complementary therapies for him.

Pink on the bus coming home from the hospital

That was one lonely, depressing evening that Pink spent lying on the floor of the main bedroom just outside my office where I was scouring the net for information about what to do about this. In addition to being totally knackered from his transport ordeal that afternoon, he seemed depressed and confused at the loss of his eyesight (a perfectly natural reaction!), and the cancer potentially growing behind his eyes may have been giving him a real brain-crusher of a headache. Sometime around mid-evening Chi called from Arizona to tell me what a disaster the first day of his tour had been, and that he was planning on driving home tomorrow evening. For once instead of howling in protest at being deprived of what I’d been led to believe would be a two-week break from Chi’s constant chaos and trauma-drama, I was actually relieved that he was coming home. If Pink was going to go during the next week or two, we all wanted Chi to be there with us.

The doctor called the next morning with the results of the blood test and said that Pink’s WBC count had risen 150 points since it was checked at his last appointment three days prior, and while it was still 50 points short of the low end of tolerance to administer the chemo, he thought it best to go ahead and do the chemo treatment as soon as possible since Pink hadn’t had a treatment in five weeks. It was interesting that this sudden increase to Pink’s white blood cell count coincided precisely with the time frame that I had begun giving him super antioxidants and he’d been eating a lot of grass.

This time I weighed the difference between an estimated 40-minute scooter ride all the way to the hospital and another long-winded, hour-plus ordeal on the bus each way for Pink and decided to try the scooter this time in an attempt to abbreviate the stress. I left work early, went home and stuffed Pink into a backpack I had lined with a nice, soft towel, and I put it on over my chest so the bottom would be supported by my knees while I was riding and also so I could see Pink and any attempt he might make to escape. I’d left the zippers open a couple inches at the top to make sure he was able to breathe, which also gave me eye contact with him, and set out again on Sparky.

Total. Fail. As sick and weak as Pink was, he still apparently wanted no part of this plan, and began struggling to get out of the backpack pretty much as soon as we hit the road. By the time I got to the place where we’d caught the bus the previous afternoon I realized that it was much too dangerous and distracting to drive while constantly trying to stop Pink from escaping into rush hour traffic. By that point there was nowhere near enough time left to take the bus the rest of the way, so I just turned around and took Pink back home, called the hospital and rescheduled the appointment for the next morning. I again spent the evening fine-combing the net for clues while Pink slept nearby, and sometime around mid-evening Chi called from Arizona to confirm that he was indeed driving home that night as we’d discussed the previous evening, so we’d be able to take Pink to the hospital in the truck the next morning.

He peed all over me on the way to the hospital (right through the mesh of the carrier), of which the silver lining was the indication that his kidneys are still in good working order. He got his chemo pill, and we headed home. Pink was totally knackered for the rest of that day and seemed to have completely lost his eyesight by then, and since he had barely eaten anything other than grass for the past four days, I began syringe-feeding him the Budwig mix, both to give him energy and give him cancer-fighting antioxidants. His energy level began to pick up that evening, continued to trend upward through Thursday, and by Friday, his vision appeared to be returning and he was moving so quickly and confidently that I thought I was going to have to put him on a leash when we did “chotto soto” so I could keep up with him! All the while I kept syringe-feeding him the Budwig mix that I began supplementing with a little raw organic honey mixed with some ground ginger (powerful anti-microbial & anti-inflammatory, plus more quick energy in the honey). Needless to say, he hated that and drooled a lot of it back out, but hopefully it did some good.

Pink had an exceptionally great day on Saturday, May 12. In fact, that was the most energetic and active I’ve seen him since mid April. However he woke up Sunday morning looking like he was in heroin withdrawal, and had an absolutely miserable day that carried on through Monday May 14. My best guess at the reason for this is that all the dead cancer cells killed by the chemo treatment he had on Wednesday, May 9 added to the cancer cells being killed off by my giving him the Budwig diet and super antioxidants since then dumping an overwhelming amount of really nasty stuff into his bloodstream, causing a toxic reaction. Oddly enough, after expressing more interest in food (Chi said he even tried a couple bites of regular food for breakfast!) on Saturday, on Sunday and Monday he seemed to be in an acute stage of cachexia, further complicating and aggravating the stress his liver was under trying to detox the dead cancer cells and chemo drug.

I ordered some hydrazine sulfate for him to break the lactic acid cycle, but that ended up getting a bit complicated and took an extra day, which may well have cost us the game.