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#sashcancerhero: Pristine Ong: Lumi

Published on December 1, 2022.

Story from #sashcancerhero: Pristine Ong: Lumi

Let me introduce Lumi, our brave Burmese cat, who shortly before her 5th birthday was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma on her chest. Now a few weeks past her 5th birthday, she is officially a cancer survivor.

We first discovered the lump on her chest between regular vet visits. Over a few months, it seemed to grow larger even though she never seemed disturbed by it. We don’t remember exactly when we first noticed it, but it was definitely sometime between June and September. If we could have done anything differently, it would have been to treat it like how human observe skin irregularities and take measurements at home.

In September we took her to our local vet because she was having an upset stomach and vomiting. The vet thought it was simply because we changed her diet and she had a sensitive stomach. Sure enough it resolved itself within a few days. At the same visit, however, we casually mentioned the lump and they tried to do a sample. By then it seemed the size of a tick bite but the vet didn’t mention that as a possibility. She was quite stressed by then so we only managed to sample it on a return visit a few weeks after that.

I had hoped we would get the all clear from the fine needle aspirant, but our vet called us to say the cells looked concerning under the microscope and recommended immediate removal, which we had no hesitation about.

Lumi returned home in a sad cone, but the story continued as within a few days we found out it was cancerous and high grade.

We were immediately referred to SASH North Ryde, and we have been so grateful for the care and compassion shown to Lumi and her human carers.

She got a CT scan which thankfully showed no metastasis but she required a second surgery to increase the margin around the original site. 

Dr Spela had research flowing from the tips of her fingers to help advice us. We decided to proceed with the second surgery and this was initially anxiety-provoking as she had already been through multiple procedures in the space of a few weeks. However, any anxiety we had was put to rest when we met the surgical team including Dr Martin Havlicek (who operated on my mum’s dog years ago, also for cancer) & Dr James Crowley who treated Lumi so gently. We were amazed by the constant communication pre & post-surgery. Dr James had the magic touch with Lumi, as you can see here!


We now make regular visits to SASH and will consider chemotherapy.

Even so, Lumi seems to enjoy her outings in her cat backpack to SASH and always explores the consult rooms with great curiosity.

If we had never checked her lump, we would not have known she was sick as she was always bright and active.

Our hope for Lumi is that she can continue to live her best life surrounded by her cat butlers, and to spend her days sitting under her favourite bush in the balcony. I always envisaged that she might live til 18 years old, like any Australian kid doing their HSC, but this experience has brought home how fleeting time is. I am resigned in a positive way to what may come. Since her cancer journey began, my response has been to document everything since it’s possibly one of the few things I can actively do, whether writing down in a little notebook during consults, filing invoices or taking photos/videos during consults. The most important thing, however, is to treasure our time together.


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