As told by his owner Brooke Kwasny
Romeo is my kitty, but really like my child and I could not tell this story without first emphasizing he is treated like my child and a member of our family. This is Romeo’s story.
I had Romeo since he was a kitten. I found him in a newspaper ad that had free kittens up for grabs. I went to the home and you could say Romeo and I chose each other at his young life of 3 months old. I took care of Romeo as one should, always taking him in for his annual vaccines and of course anytime there was even a slight chance he may not be feeling well. He led a healthy life until February 2008 and that was when our life was turned upside down.
I found a tumor on Romeo’s right side of his body. I immediately scheduled an appointment with a local vet. Of course my worst fears were that it could be the “C” word that no one wants to utter when faced with this. I took him to a vet and within just a few minutes the doctor had told me that she suspected my worst fears could be coming true. They thought it was cancer but before she could be positive, they did numerous tests. I went home and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Then a few days later I got the call that took the wind out of me…Romeo had Feline Sarcoma. Not only is this a form of cancer, but it is very rare, very aggressive, and is caused from vaccines.
We scheduled surgery the next day. This type of cancer spreads very quickly and I was told even with the surgery, his prognosis was not good. His surgery was aggressive with the incision being 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Poor Romeo spent days at the vet's in recovery. The first day I took him home he had a reaction to one of the antibiotics he was on and ended up back at the vet's. When I went to pick him up, the vet advised me that she did not think they got all of the cancer out and gave him 3 months to live. I can’t explain the feeling that overwhelmed me when I was told this. He was only 5 years old and there was no way I was going to accept this. At the time I was living in Knoxville, TN. The vet suggested I take him to the University of Tennessee’s veterinarian center to receive chemo. The chemo consisted of him being dropped off Monday through Friday at 8am and picked up at 6pm. During this time he would receive very aggressive treatments. Side effects included loss of appetite, vomiting, and loss of hair to name a few. To summarize, he would be put through hell. On top of all this, the cost for this would be around $25,000. In addition, his body may not accept the chemo and he could end up worse. As if it couldn’t get any worse, the survival rate was only 35%. If he did make it, then the chance of him living past a year was 8%. His odds got worse as time went on. Obviously, this was not an option. I instantly started doing research as to what other options were out there. I started signing up on all different kinds of cat blogs and forums for help. Then one day someone on a forum mentioned holistic treatment and bloodroot or aka neoplasene. I started looking into many holistic vets all over the country. I tried some locally in Knoxville but no one gave me the answer that I was looking for…Romeo was treatable and he would be okay. By this point I was desperate and knew that time was against me. Then I found Franklin Road Animal Hospital.
I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Ingram right away. I drove the 3 hour trip from Knoxville to Nashville one day after a full day’s work. I walked into the office, plainly putting it, a mess. I met with one of the veterinarian techs and could barely even talk while crying hysterically. Then Dr. Ingram walked in. I continued crying through the whole visit. But this visit was different than the other holistic vets I had been to. He gave me what I had been searching for the whole time…hope. He was very understanding; the whole staff was for that matter. He was positive, but also realistic. He was very up front that we would have to attack this aggressively. Needless to say I was on board. I have to mention that after this first visit I went out to my car for my 3 hour journey back home at about 9pm to find I had a flat tire. Dr. Ingram and his wife Barbara did everything they could to help me get back on the road safely. I am so grateful for them.
This is where Romeo and my relationship began with Franklin Road Animal Hospital, but more importantly with Dr. Ingram and Barbara. Romeo was immediately put on a raw meat diet and many vitamins. We made visits to the vet every other week, sometimes once a week. And every time we made our visit, I would cry and cry and cry. But every member of the staff was amazing and listened to me sob every time.
Within about a month of treatment, Dr. Ingram felt that Romeo was in recovery and would pull through. I no longer had to make the trips every other week and eventually it turned into once a month. Then by May of that year I decided to move back to my hometown in Indiana. I was very nervous to be so far away in case Romeo took a turn for the worse, but I was able to order his medicines and Barbara was kind of enough to have them shipped to me. In addition, I could not have done it without the positive prognosis for Romeo and the re-assurance from Dr. Ingram that Romeo was very close to being completely healthy and cancer free.
I am more than proud to report that Romeo has been cancer free for three years now. He is completely healthy and has routine checkups to re-assure myself that he really is healthy. Sometimes it is hard to believe that he went from being so close to leaving us to being in perfect health. I thank God every day that I did not accept the first vet telling me that he had three months to live. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and people are put in your life for a reason. I thank God every day that Romeo and I was so blessed to meet Dr. Ingram. There are not enough words to express how much gratitude I have towards Franklin Road Animal Hospital. I truly believe with everything I have inside of me, that with the combination of the fight Romeo and I have in us, the expertise and hope from Dr. Ingram, his caring staff, the holistic treatments, and of course by God’s good grace…Romeo is a real, walking, living, breathing, miracle.