A competition on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle asks ‘do you have a favourite story about your pet?’ – My answer may be somewhat surprising.
Lancelot was the cat who was literally born on my lap when I was 15, and who stayed by my side through my absolute worst years during my fight with depression. When he was diagnosed with cancer at nearly 15 years young, some of my strongest and happiest memories were forged.
This diagnosis was of course heartbreaking, but over the following six months I shared some of the most amazing moments with Lance, and saw a kindness in the human race that I never could have anticipated.
It began when Lancelot was on the operating table, and I received a phone-call from our vet to say that they had found two tumours in his intestines, and suspected an aggressive Leukaemia. I was given the choice to either say goodbye now, or continue with extensive (and expensive) surgery to try and prolong his life. He wasn’t insured, and I didn’t have the £1200 for the bill, but I couldn’t bring myself to accept that we’d spent our last days together. Call it selfish, but I wasn’t ready to let go. Through the generosity of one amazing friend, I was able to visit Lance later that day, and found him standing up in his kennel looking as perky as a spring chicken.
You would never have imagined that this old boy had just been through major surgery. The staff at the vets had all fallen in love with Lance, and I could see that they were genuinely pleased to see how happy and calm he was despite the whole ordeal. His recovery was so good that he came home the next day and started to try and jump up out of the living room window (much to my dismay) He was just a cat that wanted to be outside, wanted to do everything he had always done – including stealing the raw chicken drumsticks that a neighbour was leaving out for the foxes.
All of the veterinary staff were amazed by how well he coped over the following weeks, but the reality was still that we were cuddling on borrowed time.
Mike and I were due to get married only a few months later, and were to be away from home for 3 weeks. We were discussing our best options with the practice staff, when the same vet who had done the surgery offered to look after my beloved boy in their kennels and staff flat upstairs – ‘call it a wedding gift’ he said.
I was utterly gobsmacked, and could not thank them enough. Not only could I rest assured that Lance would receive the best care, but this alleviated a lot of the guilt that I felt for getting married abroad when we had no idea if he would be alive on our return. We chose not to have updates while away (a very hard decision) but rushed to the vets as soon as we landed back at Heathrow, to find Lancelot running around looking as happy as ever.
Now obviously cancer doesn’t play nice, and months later the decision was made that Lance ideally needed chemotherapy injections once a week to slow the tumours’ return. However, our vet warned us that this wasn’t an option if anyone in the household was pregnant. My husband and I looked at each other with disappointment and fear – the very first person we told about my pregnancy was our vet! There was no way I could subject Lance to chemo if I couldn’t be around him to see him through it. Our only other option was steroid pills, and these did as best they could for some weeks.
On 9th August 2011, Lancelot took one final trip to the vets. He had put up with my agonising depression, years of self-harm, and seen me through all the anger, hurt and frustration. Even in his dying days he brought me more happy memories than I could ever have hoped for, and his endearing character charmed all who came to know him.
Lancelot lost his mum to kidney disease, he ‘put up’ with our clingy new addition to the house – Logi the siamese, but sadly never got to meet my daughter. I had a small savings account – his ‘retirement fund’ where I was saving for his vet bills, and this has generously been donated to Logi and Pippin (our new black and white rescue cat).
To this day I look back on those ‘extra’ 6 months we had with Lancelot with very fond memories, and I shall be ever grateful to the people who made that time possible. It is why I have chosen this memory to share, because it reminds me that even in sad times it is possible to find comfort.
Winning any amount of food for our two cats in Lance’s honour would be wonderful, and I think he would definitely approve of a little trip to Normandy.