WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA.com) — This is how the story began three years ago when we met Noel, a man whose wife just died from ovarian cancer. For 15 years, they'd been rescuing neighborhood cats. Without his wife and close to eviction, he couldn't do it anymore. He needed others to rescue those he already had.
"That was a cat that wasn't adoptable. Thank you."
"Here's Buttons. We're going to take her home."
It turns out Buttons was very sick, but she touched the heart of one of our own here at CBS. So Chuck and Jenn McBride welcomed her into their family, documenting those first moments. Last year, Buttons had surgery on her foot. Little did they know, a year later, she would be fighting for her life.
"Surely, when I first felt the lump, I thought, 'Oh, it's nothing.' To say, 'my cat has breast cancer,' it's almost surreal," McBride says.
Her first vet said it could be a cyst, but a biopsy showed it wasn't. Dr. Alice Villalobos says it's going to be a tough fight.
"Buttons has malignant breast cancer and it's very nasty in cats. Generally, cats die from this type of cancer," according to Villalobos.
Breast cancer is not that common in cats. I'm told that because people spay their cats early and that can help prevent it.
Ten-year-old Buttons was spayed when the McBrides got her, but they have no idea at what age. A bilateral mastectomy is needed, as well as chemotherapy and other medicine, but because the cancer was caught early, Buttons has a chance.
"It's really hard for me, just because I rescued her and loved her from day one," McBride says.
It was by simply petting Buttons that the lump was found. This can also happen in dogs. The McBrides hope this is a lesson for everyone who loves their pets as much as they do.
"It's painful to share this story, it makes it real. If I can save even one pet, I would share this a thousand times over," McBride says.
The following is Dr. Villalobos' list of warning signs of illness or cancer in pets. If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, take them to a veterinarian immediately:
- Abnormal swellings that continue to grow. Check lymph glands, nipples, mouth, abdomen and testicles
- Sores or ulcers that do not heal in two weeks. Check ear tips and nose of white cats exposed to the sun
- Weight loss, loss of appetite, energy loss or pale membranes
- Bad breath, loose teeth, offensive odor, chronic sneezing or runny eyes or any discharge
- Difficulty eating or swallowing, salivation, and/or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating. Check for diarrhea or constipation.
- Trouble walking, hesitation to exercise of lethargy
- Persistent lameness or stiffness. Check if legs bear weight or if held up
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Increased water intake or urine output. Check kidneys, liver, glucose, calcium, hormones, etc.
for more features.