Where The Popsicles Are-106

Of PETS and Pets

It was now approaching August 22nd, and the PET scan that hopefully would tell us what progress, if any, had been made following the last three chemotherapy treatments.

Joanie wasn’t paying much attention to the date, she instead was concentrating on finding  a new Siamese to join our family. I hadn’t known it at first, but about a week or so after Muffin died, Joanie had been going through the want ads in the Bismarck Tribune and the Forum searching for just such a kitten, or kittens. After she mentioned it to me, she asked me what I thought about it. I told her I thought it was an excellent idea, and then she enlisted me in her search. A search that would come to an end in early September.

Before that, however, there was the issue of the PET scan and another trip to Minneapolis to meet with Dr. Carson. It was to be a disconcerting time. The upshot of the scan, when it was compared to the scan of May 30th, showed no difference.

The radiologist’s notes read this way: “Findings: The study is compared to a previous examination dated 5-30-06 and demonstrates no significant change in the number of focal regions of increased glucose metabolism in the chest and liver regions. No definite new lesions are apparent. The intensity of the lesions appear to be relatively stable when allowing for technical changes

“Impression: Multiple focal regions of increased glucose metabolism in the chest and liver not significantly changed dating back to 5-30-06.”

As I understood it, since cancer cells metabolize glucose faster than normal cells, the radioactive glucose they inject into Joanie’s veins lights up on the scan, and gives the radiologist a picture of where the problem areas are.

I picked up the radiologist’s notes and the CD we would need to take to Dr. Carson, and when I got out to my car, I sat down and looked over the one page note from the radiologist. At first I was stunned. Then I went over it again, word at a time, and figured out that while nothing had changed after these last three, reduced level treatments, there was no evidence of anything new either. So, I came to think of it as a so-so news/ good news deal. At least the disease showed no signs of progression, and there was nothing new showing up. I was still disappointed that there hadn’t been a decrease in the areas that lit up on the scan, but for the time I would focus on the positive aspect of the scan with Joanie. I would wait for Dr. Carson to elaborate on what it all meant, and what the next step would be, which I imagined would be more chemotherapy. Joanie was sure to be disappointed.

We met with Dr. Carson on Friday the 25th of August, and what I suspected is what she told us. She reviewed the CD of the PET we had brought along, and told us she wanted to do four more chemotherapy treatments. Joanie was disappointed when she heard that. Dr. Carson must have realized she needed a break after six months of chemo and told her to take September off. They would start the chemo again on October 1st.  Carson tried to put the same spin on it as I did, when she told Joanie, that while things had remained the same, there was no evidence of anything new popping up.

We walked out of the clinic to the parking garage, and there was no question we were going to go directly home. It was getting near rush hour in the Cities, and I had wondered if we might stay another night. She would have none of it. She was more than disappointed, and her demeanor and body language told me everything I needed to know. We headed for home.

This was a setback, regardless of how I tried to spin it. I think Joanie knew it. Though she never verbalized it directly, it was obvious she so wanted to hear that the chemo was working better than it was. She didn’t say much for most of the ride back to Bismarck, and I didn’t press her either. I knew that wouldn’t work anyway.

When we were just passed Jamestown, I stopped at the rest area to have a smoke, and walk around for a few minutes. When we got back on the road, she started to talk. She told me how disappointed she was with what we had heard today, and how tired she was. It was one of those times when I just listened. She started to say she wondered if more chemo was going to work, but stopped before she finished the thought, and then she asked me if I thought it was going to work. I told her I thought Dr. Carson and Dr. Thomas think it will, and I’m going along with them. I told her I was encouraged that there were no new lesions, and was confident that at least the cancer wasn’t spreading. I don’t know how convincing I sounded, but I left it at that.

As we approached the outskirts of Bismarck, she grew quiet again, and I knew why. There would be no Muffin to great her when she got home. I knew then, how important finding some new kitties to come and live with us was.

Joanie had been watching, and I had even been checking the classifieds, but we found that Siamese are difficult to come by. That was true until the first week in September, when I got a frantic call from Joanie one morning.

Seems there were two eight week old Siamese kittens at the pet shop in West Acres Mall in Fargo. They were sisters, and Joanie asked me if it was okay if she checked it out. I told her to go for it. I knew how much she needed this to happen.

So, Joanie called my sister Jane, it was about noon that day, and turns out Jane was in the mall. Joanie asked her if she would go to the pet shop and check out the two kittens. Jane did, and then she sent a picture of these two little white furballs to Joanie’s phone. Joanie sent them on to me, and asked me if it was okay. I said, get them if you can.

Joanie called the pet shop and bought them over the phone. Jane was to pick them up on Saturday and drive to Jamestown where we would meet her and pick up these two new females that would come to live with us. Joanie was like a kid waiting for Christmas until Saturday came, and when it did, she couldn’t wait to get to Jamestown. We met Jane and one of her grandkids, Jurnee, and were introduced to two of the cutest little balls of white fur with black feet and ears you could imagine.

We hadn’t brought along a kennel to put them in, so the trip back to Bismarck was something to behold, with these two little kitties running around the car, getting in the way, and in general keeping Joanie busy trying to keep track of them and keep them from getting stuck around my feet. When we got home, Joanie had gotten hold of one of them, but the other one had crawled under the front seat. I had to get on my hands and knees and reach under the back of the seat to drag her out. Once inside, I just put her down, and she was off, they both were off.

It was a confusing time, but I took one look at Joanie’s face, and it was all worth it. She was beaming, and I knew we had done the right thing bringing these two into our lives.

When they had settled down after a little bit, we got a better look at them, and once they were on Joanie’s lap, we decided on the names we had chosen earlier. Brandy and Bailey. We could see the subtle differences in them so we could tell them apart, even if no one else could.


These two were box trained, but there were still a couple of accidents as they got used to their new home. The accidents weren’t enough for her to have second thoughts, and after those initial incidents, there was never another problem.


I have always heard the stories about how pets can make a heart glad and nourish a person’s soul, and that Saturday, and every day afterwards, I got to see it in action. From that day on I was a believer, thanks to two little Siamese sisters that had no idea the joy they brought into the house on N. Mandan Street that day.


About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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