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Dahlia in a sun puddle

Dahlia basks in a sun puddle in our new home, the day before she got so terribly sick. Photo by JaneA Kelley

You all know Dahlia, the sweet baby-girl of the Paws and Effect Gang. Well, a week and a half ago, she had a wheezing and coughing fit that I videoed and shared with my vet, Doctor Jim. After giving her an exam, he diagnosed the problem as asthma and gave her a steroid shot — which seemed to have good results.

Five days ago as I write this, I moved to a new home, Portland, Maine, 150 miles away from where I’d lived before. On Wednesday, Dahlia started having breathing trouble again, so I made an appointment for the next day at a local cat-only vet clinic.

A few hours later, Dahlia’s problems got dramatically worse: she was open-mouth panting, crying in panic, and even peed herself, so I rushed her to the Animal Emergency Clinic on Warren Avenue in Portland. X-rays revealed that she had a pleural effusion — the area between her lungs and her ribs was filled with fluid and her lungs were compressed to a third of their normal size. No wonder she was having trouble breathing!

She spent the night in an oxygen cage at the emergency clinic. The night vet, Dr. Patricia Barber, drained the fluid out of Dahlia’s chest and found out it was not an infection or injury that had caused the problem. When she examined some of the fluid under a microscope, she found a high number of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells), which led to two possibilities: either a tumor or heart disease.

Dahlia's ultrasound showing three tumors

Dahlia's ultrasound results showing three tumors.

On Thursday afternoon, I took her to Portland Veterinary Specialists on outer Congress Street for an ultrasound exam, which revealed three tumors: one in front of her heart, one on her liver, and one near her gallbladder, probably obstructing the bile duct. Sarah Noble, the vet who did the ultrasound, told me that the tumors are either lymphomas or carcinoma, but she wouldn’t be certain until the pathology lab came back with the test results.

Either way, it’s cancer, and either way it’s going to be a long but inevitable goodbye.

Dr. Noble wanted Dahlia to stay overnight on Thursday so they could monitor her and make sure she wasn’t going to “crash” again.

Thus far her vet costs are closing in on $3,000: almost $1,600 at the emergency clinic and $1,127 at PVS. Once the pathology results are back, Dr. Noble and I are going to discuss our options for treatment or palliative care.

I’m seriously considering chemotherapy — as long as the treatment will give her a good quality of life for a reasonable amount of time — but ultimately the choice is going to be up to Dahlia. What does she want?

All of this treatment so far has left me tapped out. I got Care Credit, but I’m pretty much maxed there with just the two nights of treatment.

I’m asking for your help in paying off these expenses and helping me give my sweet baby girl as good a life as possible until Siouxsie, Thomas and I need to say goodbye. I’ve started a ChipIn campaign, which you can access through the widget on the right-hand side of the page or through this link if you’re in a reader.

Some devices seem to be unable to deal with the ChipIn widget, so I’ll let you know that the funds go through PayPal. If you’d rather do that, you can PayPal to janea (at) paws-and-effect (dot) com; that account takes both PayPal and credit/debit transfers.

I know some people who would like to contribute might feel more comfortable sending their payments directly to the veterinary hospital. If you’d like to go that route, please send your check to:

Portland Veterinary Specialists
2255 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04102

The invoice from the Animal Emergency Clinic.

If you do this, please include a note indicating that the payment is for the care of Dahlia Kelley and to be applied as a credit to Account #13208, Janea Kelley. Any payments sent that way will help pay for further treatment Dahlia receives there.

If you’d like to use a credit card, you can call PVS at 207-780-0271 and give them your information. Again, please request that they apply it as a credit to Account #13208.

Portland Veterinary Services bill for Dahlia's care

The bill from Portland Veterinary Services

If you can’t contribute money, please don’t feel bad: good wishes, prayers, blessings, magick, merits, Reiki, or whatever other kinds of mojo you want to send are at least as important and welcomed with just as much gratitude as financial assistance.

Whatever choice you make, do not sacrifice your own, your family’s or your pets’ well-being for Dahlia’s sake: I know what it’s like to be so poor that you can barely meet your own needs, let alone send money to someone else, and if you’re in that situation, I’d much, much rather you take care of yourself!

I’m already amazed at the generosity and kindness that has poured in from Dahlia’s fans and friends on Facebook and around the world.

Because I want you to be sure my request is legit, I’m sharing the bills from the Animal Emergency Clinic and Portland Veterinary Specialists. You should be able to click these images to embiggenate them, but just in case you can’t, here are links to the AEC bill and the PVS bill.

Dahlia rubs Mama's hand after retuning home Friday night

I finally coaxed Dahlia out from under the bed last night, and she was so happy to be home! Photo by JaneA Kelley

Dahlia was able to come home last night, and I’ve got three medications I’m supposed to give her: two antibiotics (she’s running a slight fever and seems to be kind of snotty and sneezy) and prednisolone (to stimulate her appetite) and so far she seems to be doing OK. She spent her first few hours here hiding under the bed, and once I sat down to watch some silly TV, she showed herself and sat on the back of the couch, which is her favorite place. This morning, I woke up to feel her rubbing her head all over me and hear the beautiful sound of her purr. She ate some breakfast — about a third of what she usually eats, but I didn’t want to overfeed her and make her puke. Since then she’s been spending most of her time on top of the bed, basking in one of the many sun puddles that make our new home so awesome.

Dahlia lounging on the bed Saturday morning

Dahlia lounges on the bed Saturday morning. See that huge shaved patch? That's from the ultrasound. Photo by JaneA Kelley

I’ll be posting updates here and on the Paws and Effect Facebook page, as well as on Dahlia Blooming Health Support, a page my sister-in-law created as a gesture of support and a clearinghouse for Dahlia info. I’d encourage you to join both of those pages if you haven’t done so already.

If I should happen to raise more money than I need for Dahlia’s care, I’ll donate the surplus to Forgotten Felines of Maine, an all-volunteer rescue group that helps people all over eastern Maine to save cats and manage feral colonies. They even helped get the electric company to turn off the lights to a whole town to rescue a cat trapped on a power pole!

Thank you for your kindness and your support, from me and the entire Paws and Effect Gang!