Eight-pound Burmese provides love during struggle with cancer

Published6/2/2008 12:01 AM

I'm here to tell you that chemo and radiation aren't the only ways to fight cancer.

One recent visitor to my room proved me correct.


I didn't know whether he'd remember me after having had no contact since late March. He arrived in a carrier, peering out at this strange place. Soft sounds came from inside.

He's a Burmese cat, weighs about eight pounds on a heavy day, and he promptly took command of the situation, of me and of all the furniture, just as he does at the cattery with newly weaned kittens.

I told his breeders, with whom he now lives, that I had no expectations, but my fears were quickly put to rest. After a preliminary sniff, he rubbed against everything, "marking" it all with the scent glands on the side of his head.

This chemo will work until he comes again to visit me at the nursing/rehab center. All couches, chairs and wooden furniture hold Gadi's scent.

He saved me for last, hopping onto my lap, smashing his face against mine and stuffing his ears into my mouth. All was back to what passes for normal in our world.

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When I shifted from a wheelchair to my bed, so did Gadi, walking up my legs and chest and lying down on my chest.

I had no desire to nap, no need to look for something to occupy time. He did what others are discovering.

He just loved for the sake of loving.

Some people here have dogs in their rooms. Others have friends or family members bring pets for visits. Friends of mine have brought their dogs, but cats are a bit rare.

I shared some water with him and his breeders shared news about his sister. Sooki was at their home with another kitty who needed hydration and meds due to kidney problems.

What I didn't notice was how quickly time passed. After two hours, they had to leave, with promises to return.

This time, I'll have a sign ready for the door. It will urge visitors to enter with caution. They will have to pass inspection by the Burmese cat-in-command.

Ruth Gesmer Silverman of Buffalo Grove learned in March 2007 that her breast cancer, originally diagnosed in 2002, had spread to her bones. Her column about living with the disease appears every other week in Health & Fitness. Contact her at ruthwcl@aol.com.

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