Message Number: YG6203 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Laura Martinez
Date: 2001-08-08 10:26:00 UTC
Subject: IBD and Lymphoma (long)


I wanted to share my experiences with lymphoma and inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD) with the list so that maybe someone won't have to go through
what I'm going through.

Today I found out that Xena, my 5 year old MF girl, has lymphoma. My 6
year old MF girl Gatsby also has lymphoma. Both ferrets had bloodwork
indicating that they had IBD, and Gatsby had a positive biopsy for IBD back
in April of 2000. My vet believes that IBD, left untreated, can lead to
lymphoma. I realize that some of the premier minds in ferret medicine
disagree on this causal relationship, and I have nothing but respect for
both sides of the issue. But in a purely personal, ancedotal way, I
believe that there is a relationship.

Perhaps if I share what I think my mistakes were, I can help others not to
make them.

Stuff I did wrong:
Not immediately having all three (more on the third ferret, Hank, later)
biopsied immediately and started on treatment. In the past, how I afforded
ferret surgeries was a small savings account (never more than $300 in it),
and a credit card. Once I had cleaned out the savings and maxed out the
card, I had to take the time to pay it off, usually not more than about 6
weeks. I should have had a credit card with a larger limit (in the
thousands) ready to care for my guys.

Since I had to take turns having each ferret biopsied, I made a mistake by
doing Xena last. Xena is older than Hank, and thusly I should have taken
her ahead. But Hank had a mass growing on his side that made me take him
for surgery first. Thankfully, the mass turned out to be benign.

Assuming that Xena was okay based on her appearance and behavior. More
than a few ferret-owning folks that have seen her have mistaken her for a
boy--she has always been a good weight and never showed a symptom other
than slight lethargy a few weeks before surgery.

Stuff I did right:
Going to the right vet who encouraged me to investigate and further treat
the IBD. I am so thankful for this vet--he is simply the best.

So as you can see, I have a lot to beat myself up for. To everyone else
on the list, I'd like to strongly encourage you to have your ferrets,
especially the older ones, tested for IBD. Maybe there is no direct
relationship between IBD and lymphoma--perhaps my case is just the
heartbreaking statistical average number of lymphoma occurances per six
ferrets owned (counting two that went to the Bridge). But at least if you
check it out, you know you did everything you can. Thinking you did
anything less than all you could is heartbreaking. Also, if you can, get
your ferrets on with the pet insurance company. Though I have a feeling
that if you don't do this when they are kits, you may be out of luck
because my three were all rejected for coverage due to pre-existing
conditions. Nonetheless, if you can, do it.

I have always been very very squeamish about holistic remedies, being very
paranoid that any homeopathic remedies will do more harm than good. But in
light of half my ferrets now having lymphoma, I am going to order some of
the Essiac tea and see how that goes, in addition to the pred course my vet

A bright spot in this nightmare is that Hank's IBD <knock wood> seems to be
on the run. His last two blood tests have come out good, and he is down to
having bloodwork once every two months. Let's hope that keeps up.

Little Rusty (and by that I mean age--this guy could take on Godzilla and
win ;-)) will be turning one in October. I do not know if he has IBD.
Once his insurance policy is in force (less than two weeks), I am going to
have his bloodwork done. Sometimes I can con myself into thinking that
Xena and Gatsby are older, and I knew the life expectancy of ferrets before
I got one (*sigh* but the time goes by so fast), but Rusty is just a big,
obnoxious baby, and if he were to have lymphoma....Okay, now I'm getting
ahead of myself, so I will end this post and say what so many other people
have said before:

Hug and kiss and spoil your ferrets as hard as you's later than
you think.