Before Tripawd Life: Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Hello! This is my first post with my husband, and we’d like to introduce our fur baby, Munch. She’s a five-year old black exotic shorthair living in Los Angeles, CA. She also has an 11-year old brother named, Monster. He will make appearances on this blog as he is a part of her life and loves her very much. Here’s the beginning of our story:

A dear friend of mine came to visit us, who has been working at a veterinary hospital for the past 20 years. When she picked up Munch she asked whether she was polydactyl, which struck me as strange. Then we discussed the possibility of an infection in her right front paw.

I took Munch to the vet on 11/23/16 and we discussed the possibility of her having an infection. Naturally, we moved forward with steroid and antibiotic injections. I woke up the next morning on Thanksgiving to discover her paw had shrunk 50% in size; it was a relief believing she was heading in the right direction. Munch developed an upper respiratory infection a few days after the visit to the vet and was put on an oral antibiotic. Later in mid-December, I noticed her paw was starting to swell again. My husband and I left for five days around Christmas to see family and made a troubling discovery upon our return. Munch’s paw was now larger than ever before; her paw looked like a boot, and when I touched it she cried out in pain. This was new. I immediately called her vet to schedule an exploratory surgery for the next day.

December 28, 2016: Prior to surgery I authorized the vet to amputate her thumb digit. This was a small concession and would address the swelling right where it was occurring. The surgery was completed, and then we met the wrecking ball: our vet discovered a cancerous tumor originating on the thumb side of the paw, and wrapping around the lower-third of her leg. We did not expect this at all. The vet did all he could to remove the tumor and sent it out for biopsy testing.

Biopsy results revealed soft tissue sarcoma, a form of cancer. If untreated in a feline, the life expectancy can be 2-19 painful months. I was referred to an oncologist and made an appointment with a surgeon. I read literature about this form of cancer being potentially related to vaccine injection sites. Reading further, I learned the difficult truth that amputation of the limb would offer the best chance of survival, and deter the re-growth of the tumor. Prior to our appointment, I had more testing performed to ensure we’d be prepared ahead of time: full body x-rays, full blood panel, urinalysis, and ultrasound which all came back normal.

January 5, 2017: We met our doctors and they were both confident that full leg amputation could be curative. They explained everything thoroughly and were absolutely wonderful; their support assured us that this difficult choice was born out of compassion to give Munch a fighting chance.

Munch was placed on the calendar: surgery for January 9, 2017.

17 thoughts on “Before Tripawd Life: Soft Tissue Sarcoma”

  1. As much as I hate the circumstances, welcome. Munch is beautiful! This is an amazing place for friendship, support, and tons of valuable information. I’m Angel Little Man’s mom, Michelle. He fought vaccine associated sarcoma for over 4 and a half years. I truely believe that amputation is their best chance against this cancer monster. The whole process was way harder on me that it was for him. He did great! He had other cats in the house as well, so it was an adjustment. Look up his blog sometime. I wish you all the best! Give Munch & Monster nose kisses and head bumps for me. <3

  2. Im sorry to hear about Munch. Welcome to Tripawds. Not where we want to be but the best place for love & support. Our kitty Purrkins 6 years old also had soft tissue sarcoma on front left wrist. He is doing great 6 months post amp! You are making the best choice, as you have written , full leg amputation likely to be curative! Its the best shot we have of getting rid of cancer and of course the pain! Thats exactly why we also chose amputation. Look forward to hearing more about Munch and your furry family! Reach out if you have questions or just need support ok!
    Holly & Purrkins

    1. Thanks so much for your response. I was wondering if you were offered chemotherapy post amputation? Munch’s cancer is also low grade but we are doing four cycles of chemotherapy just to make sure we get everything. The oncologist said there’s 20-30% chance of other cancer cells floating around making a new home. I’m compiling several posts that are currently private and once I’ve finished them I will make them public. Everything happened so quickly so I’m trying to put it in chronological order. Thanks again for reaching out during this time.
      – Selena (Munch’s fur mama)

  3. Munch sure lives up to his name. Those big round eyes and face! A little loveable munchkin. My tripawd Mona also had cancer from a vaccine injection in June 2014 and she’s doing great now. She’s not an over active cat, never was, but loves to play with toys, cuddle, and rule over the big male cat. The thought of amputation is a shock but in many cases it gives our pets a chance for longer term survival. Holly/Purrkins just set up a forum on Feline Rehab which may interest Munch. Hugs for you and your kitties. Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

    1. Thanks so much for your response! Everything happened so quickly so I’m still figuring it all out. Thank you for the information I’ll look for the forum. It is encouraging to hear feedback that other cats have survived this terrible disease. The oncologist doesn’t feel it was vaccine injection site related so it’s unknown as to why it occurred. Do you have a blog? If so please reply with the link!

      -Selena (Munch’s fur mama)

  4. Oh my gosh, what beautiful and handsome cats! Good that Monster is in love with Munch as that will help in the days to come. The folks here Owned By Cats have invaluable, thoughtful, and detailed information that may be if help for the days that come. For now, welcome! Thank you for joining and for sharing. What an amazing family you have!

  5. I have a 13 year old cat – Midnight that had a soft tissue sarcoma caused by the vaccine. We had to amputate he left rear leg. You can find pictures and information on Midnights Amputation. She is doing great now. I wish you the best.

  6. not sure how to link you to my pages. If you search for Midnight’s Left Leg Amputation hopefully you will find everything

  7. Selena, I’m sorry, Im just getting back to your blog and see your comments. We got clean margins on Purrkins amputation. We did not do chemo, it was not a option given to us.
    We did X-rays, ultasound,bloodwork, urinalysis prior to his amp. All came back clean. They did say there could be microscopic cells, not showing up then. We just had our 6 month recheck and did all the same tests, Purrkins is still cancer free! We will go again in another 6 month for another recheck.

    As for people checking back on your blog(the comment section) Not everyone will go back to the prior comments. Just a heads up.
    I wil add the links you asked about above.

    Mona shares her three-legged adventures after Vaccine Associated Sarcoma.

    Purrkins Soft Tissue Sarcoma*
    Cat 6 years old Diagnosed soft tissue sarcoma left front leg

    Little Man
    Loving Life on 3 Legs

    Midnight’s Amputation
Midnight’s Left Leg Amputation

    The rest of the blogs you will find under the rear or front leg amp kitty forum.

    This is a link of tripawd kitty rear leg blogs

    This is a link of tripawd kitty front leg amps.

    Keep healing Sweet Munch!

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to gather all of those resources! I’m sorry it took a while to reply… the past month has been crazy and I’m just starting to digest everything. Munch also had clean margins with low grade STS, but her oncologist said there’s a 20-30% chance of cancer floating around. All of her other tests have been normal too which is strange how they can have full blown cancer somewhere (in Munch’s case the paw up to her elbow) and the labs, X-rays, ultrasound were all normal. I wanted to know if your oncologist felt Purrkin’s was vaccine related? I’m not sure if Munch’s was or how the doctors differentiate between idiopathic or vaccine injection site related. I would appreciate any information you have… I plan to scan/post both of the biopsy reports here on the blog. It’s difficult when there’s so much more literature on dogs vs. cats. I hope you’re doing well! Give Purrkin’s a head scratch for me!


  8. Hi Selena. I wanted to let you know that the diagnosis from pathologist’s report on Mona’s leg stated it was “High grade fibrosarcoma with complete excision, virtually certain to be a postvaccinal sarcoma”. I hope Munch is doing well.
    Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

    1. Thanks so much for providing the information regarding the vaccine relation to the disease. Munch’s pathologist did not write anything of that nature and I’m guessing because the grade was so low? I’m still doing my research on it.

  9. We totally understand the craziness once we get this diagnosis! No need to apologize!
    I did ask our oncologist and vets about the VAS and they said no it was not vaccine related.

    Ask your oncologist if it could be from a vaccine, it never hurts to ask questions !
    These were some links I have saved on soft tissue sarcomas and VAS, hopefully these will help with some of your questions and research. The first link was very informative on soft tissue sarcomas . If you find out more information ,let us know .
    Holly & Purrkins

    1. Again, THANK YOU! You’re a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this stuff. I asked the oncologist during the consultation if she felt it was vaccine related and she did not express that it was based on the first biopsy results and the low grade. I’m going to do my best to do more research and hopefully get to the bottom of it. I’m planning on posting both biopsy reports here on the blog for others to have a comparison. It’s very difficult when there isn’t much literature on cats vs. dogs Do you use the chat feature on this website? I’d love to chat with you sometime. I’m going to start reading all of the links you sent me, thanks again for taking the time to reply!


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