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Kitty Star of the Week for June 15 - 21, 2003.

This week our star is Ginger Marie. Her person-mom explains how important Ginger Marie is to her.

"Hi, my name is Lisa. My best friend's name is Ginger Marie Kitty Dinoff. She is 14 years old. I am 46. She came to me one day when I was living Modesto, California.

"I left Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the age of 26 to pursue a career in medical transcription. When I found her, she had been huddled up amidst her mother and other siblings, all dead, in an irrigation canal for approximately a week before her eyes opened and she found her way to my doorstep. She was barely as big as my hand but PURRED SO LOUD I CALLED IN SICK THAT DAY TO WORK!

"Soon afterwards I had cervical cancer, total abdominal hysterectomy, and after 15 years in California around Christmas of 1995 I returned home to Alabama after having non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She was with me through chemotherapy, radiation, and sat right under my feet on the airplane home to Alabama.

"Soon afterwards I was diagnosed with a rare lung disease (BOOP -- Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumoniae). I soon underwent two lung surgeries, more chemotherapy, and an open lung biopsy. I only have 1/3rd of lungs to use now so every 4 hours I have to use a mechanical nebulizer machine for treatment. She will wake me up if I am not breathing correctly or am having "labored" breathing. She will sit right beside me (even though the machine makes a lot of noise and puts out the "mist" for me to breathe) and sometimes I think she enjoys it too as she will seemingly breathe better afterwards also!! I do hear her having little breathing problems sometimes like allergies, so it must be good for her too! Soon after that, I was on prednisone and was quite large from the steroid use after having open lung biopsy (cut from under my right breast to almost my spine) and had to sleep in a recliner. She would come and lie oh so carefully right up under my right arm. I only suspect that she was 'comforting' me or 'healing' me.

"Following that, I began to have seizures, and she now comes and seems to 'tell me' that I am in need of sitting down because she will grab my leg, and sometimes even bite my pants and pull. I will sit down and usually find myself feeling ill, but it will usually pass if I take my medicine and sit down.

"This darling daughter of mine (I could have no children) has been my most precious love for 14 years. She has 25 words that she can speak very clearly...and I am NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HEARS THEM!

"She also will come and let me know when we are getting bad weather as we get tonadoes and flash floods here quite regularly in the Spring. She has mostly been an indoor cat and she does have minor arthritis in her hips, but I sure dread the day when I see her having any other problems other than the problems that come with her age.

"Recently I had to have her x-ray'd for some abdominal and respiratory illnesses and when they gave her the sleep medicine, I found I could hardly cope with seeing her just become very nonresponsive. I hope she will 'tell me' when the time comes for that. I am not sure I will handle that near as well as she does me!

"In February of 2002 I had neck surgery after a great deal of infection set in (which no-one diagnosed for over a month) thus I have lost a good deal of my biceps and triceps function in my left arm. Sometimes she will come and 'knead' my left arm as if she knows that the muscles need to be kept from further atrophy. She does not do this anywhere else on me. When I had to take 8 weeks of antibiotic treatment via jugular veins (both) after this surgery, she would sit right next to me until the IV was done, and then would lay with her paw across my chest as if to say 'I'm sorry mom'.

"Lastly, recently she has begun to wake me at my 'designated' times for taking my medications (I have very many to take with this lung disease and other things, and they must be taken ON TIME). She will get up, walk up to me and take her paw, and lightly push on my cheek until she has awakened me -- well, SOMETIMES she will get a bit aggressive, but mostly she will just be significantly determined until I am up, take my medicine, then she will let me lie back down until the next time. She has not EVER missed a time in the last 4 years, but recently with the addition of a very IMPORTANT medication, she is *Ginger-on-the-minute*. Right now I am on 17 different kinds of medications, plus the nebulizer treatments, and all of these meds are taken at various times during the day. If I have to leave for any few minutes, or go outside (which is quite dangerous for me with my immune system being mostly nonexistent), she will sit in the window and watch until she sees me return. SHE WILL NOT MOVE FROM THAT WINDOW UNTIL I RETURN.

"My life is full with this darling one in it, and I know that God has allowed me to have this angel through all this to keep me laughing and happy with such a loving and unconditional sacrifice she has made.

"Thanks for allowing me to share my long but MOST IMPORTANT love story."

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