Life has gotten a little crazy these days. Baking and blogging have taken a back seat to my cat, who was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. It is called hypo dermal hemangiosarcoma, a very rare cancer in cats.
It started about 2 months ago when I noticed a small lump on JoeBoo’s side, under his skin. It felt like a harmless lipoma (fatty growth) so I forgot about it for a few weeks. Then my husband said to me, “are you sure it’s nothing to worry about?” And then it hit me. No, I wasn’t sure because I didn’t do any testing on it! BAD vet! But in my defense, JoeBoo is a cat who HATES leaving the house and especially HATES the car. When I take him out of the house for any reason, he pees on me, pukes in the car and hyperventilates and screams the whole way to the clinic (a half hour drive). So, maybe that could be why I postponed things for a while…
When I finally brought him into the clinic, I ran bloodwork, urine, radiographs and a fine needle aspirate (needle biopsy). Yep, the works.
Unfortunately the FNA came back inconclusive, which happens quite often. There was a lot of hemodilution in the sample, which basically meant it was a tumor with a good blood supply. The next week, I removed the growth surgically and got the diagnosis shortly after.
I spoke with a wonderful oncologist in Calgary, who was supportive and compassionate. Hypodermal hemangiosarcoma carries a pretty poor prognosis. Metastasis will occur in about 80% of cases. Staging tests prior to surgery indicated that there was no metastasis, but this can become evident shortly after surgery in many cases.
I have no idea how much time JoeBoo has left. I just really hope to be able to spend one more Christmas with him. He loves the holidays. He likes to lie under the Christmas tree and look up at all the lights and ornaments. He has never tried to climb it, but hopefully he will this year 🙂
Please, please, please check your pets for lumps regularly. If you find one, it should be checked out by a veterinarian. Ideally, a fine needle aspirate or biopsy should be done because one can never tell with 100% certainty what a lump is just by feel or appearance. Most skin cancers have a very good prognosis if treated right away. Many of the lumps will be benign (non-cancerous) and then you can feel comfortable in “just monitoring” them.
JoeBoo is currently doing well. He is happy, active and has a great appetite. I know it won’t last, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of him.
Now to change the subject to something a little cheerier…
Here is a delicious cookie recipe I came across on a great baking blog. In helping me make these, Ruby dumped an entire jar of sprinkles on the cookies. Of course, our kitchen was then completely covered in sprinkles. Sean kept sweeping them up and they seemed to continue to multiply, trying to take over our kitchen. We don’t even have a dog to help us out with spills like this!
The cookies ended up being delicious. They were super soft, with just the right amount of spice to them. The frosting firmed up nicely after it set, so the cookies could be placed on top of one another in the container. I made them at Halloween time, so I mixed red and yellow food colouring together to make the frosting orange.
Frosted pumpkin spice cookies
3/4C unsalted butter, softened
1/2C granulated sugar
1/4C light brown sugar
4 and 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
2 1/4C all purpose flour
2 1/2C powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ Tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp milk
Food colouring, if desired
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla. When mixture is just barely combined, add remaining dry ingredients. Mix until no streaks remain and batter is lump free.
Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough, shape into smooth balls and gently flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 1 minute prior to transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cookies have cooled completely, prepare frosting. In a medium bowl, mix together powdered sugar and butter until evenly dispersed, mixture may be crumbly. Add vanilla and 1 Tbsp of milk or water at a time until desired icing consistency is reached.
Frost cookies with a small offset spatula and immediately top off with sprinkles. Allow frosting to set or enjoy immediately. Once frosting has set completely, store cookies in an airtight container.