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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Is Optimism Appropriate in Dog Cancer?

Updated: September 26th, 2018

I recently received a post from a guardian who felt that perhaps the approach in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide leaned towards “pushing the positive”.  And her feeling was that when one’s own dog does not live to published median life expectancy, taking an optimistic approach was not that useful. Her dog lived 6 months.

Now, here’s the opposite side of the coin. A couple of weeks ago, I had a birthday picnic with family in the park up on the side of the mountain where I live.  A woman ran up to me with tears in her eyes and a bottle of wine. She explained through the tears that I had given her dog an extra 6 months of life after she had given up, based on what the previous vets said.  She hugged me and gave me the wine as a gift.

So, who was “right”? Well, it all depends on the viewpoint of the person looking at the situation.  The woman who felt that the 6 months of added longevity was too little to have an optimistic mindset or the woman who felt that the 6 months was an impossible treasure she will always remember?

When one is dealing with a challenge, the mindset is one of the most important parts of the equation.  The mind is a strange thing that sometimes takes us places that don’t always serve us or produce the best possible outcomes. Sometimes, left to its own devices, the mind can actually lead us to make decisions that later we wish we hadn’t.  Often this is because there is missing information, or because we choose to only look at some of the information.

That’s why it is so important to gather all the data we can before making decisions.  It is also important to realize that the mind can be colored by the emotions.  From this standpoint, it is also important to have the emotional management part of guardianship under control, which is discussed at some length in the Guide.

But, what about this question of optimism in the face of a dog cancer diagnosis? Yes, the Guide emphasizes a positive outlook.  There are several reasons for this.  First is that cancer itself is a profoundly negative issue. Discussing cancer is negative. Survival times can be negative.  Finances can be negative.  Dealing with life while and also dog cancer can be negative. Treatments can be negative. So essentially everything about cancer is negative.

If one allows this to overwhelm the outlook, it can be paralyzing as a guardian. So Dr. Ettinger and I deliberately chose to approach dog cancer with an optimistic slant meant to fight all this negativity.  And the wonderful thing is that most guardians have been able to not only help their dogs but also help themselves by tipping the scale to a more positive outcome.

Do we have a cancer cure? Not yet.  But there is a lot that can be said for doing what can be done to maintain positivity during times as difficult as dog cancer.

Best

Dr D

 

 

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  1. Jen on December 19, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Is liver cancer addressed in the book

    • Amber Drake on December 20, 2017 at 3:42 am

      Hello, Jen.

      Yes, liver cancer is addressed in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide in several sections. Do you currently have a copy? If you do have a copy, the information about liver cancer can be found on pages: 154, 299, 302, 337, and 337-345. And, the beginning chapters of the book apply to all types of cancer.

      Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

      Warm wishes.

  2. Karen on May 22, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Dear Dr Dressler,
    It has been 6 months since our then about to turn 6 year old Bernese was diagnosed with lymphoma. From a prognosis of 4 weeks survival if left untreated, and in the space of the week after diagnosis where the vet initially said predisnone only and the key should be that she should not suffer, and after I pushed him on what I had found on this and other websites, we now have a dog who has been in complete remission for four months now. We bought your book and opted for the Madison Protocol chemo and She is happy, bouncy, barks and chases other dogs and has been in good form for most the time with only the occasional bout of diarrhoea. One bout lasted a week and was pretty awful for all of us indoors but otherwise it was not serious. Her last treatment (doxorubicin) is in two weeks. It has been a long slog as we drive a 300km round trip to the university hospital for her treatments in what has been an unrelenting winter; I have had to arrange it with work and it is in the same time frame as exams for my daughter. The biggest challenge has been diet as we were trying everything you suggested and unfortunately we did not to get the home diet quite right as she seemed to lose weight on that so the hospital told us to mix the home diet (mainly oily fish and we buy salmon, sardines and mackerel in industrial quantities) with the Hills Prescription. I am not sure but Apocaps which we had to order online from abroad seemed to coincide with the diarrhoea. So we left it but perhaps once the chemo ends we should resume as we enter uncharted, unstructured waters.She is back to her pre illness weight but it fluctuates and we do not always get the Hills as it has to be ordered from the vet.We have had so much luck, the vet is surprised and happy he told us to take the risk, she reacts fine to chemo, the hospital staff know and love her as she is so bouncy and she seems far happier than the period just before she fell ill when I thought she was just growing old as she seemed slow. We now enter an uncertain phase and we are not sure what to do as the certainty of chemo disappears and we know she can’t be cured. But it has been 6 wonderful months.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on May 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Karen
      well, all things considered, it sounds pretty good under the circumstances. good life quality is good!
      as long as you have read the Guide and discussed all your options with the vet, I think you are on the right track. As to the diarrhea, try halving the apocaps dose and giving it with a full meal but please discuss with your vet too in case i am missing something. could add slippery elm and probiotics too (discuss with your vet, again).
      Best
      d

  3. Sue B. on April 17, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    I’m very thankful having found your book and have gained a greater understanding about canine cancer. However, I have to also admit that all the information has been somewhat overwhelming for me. Perhaps it’s because I found your book during the emotional turmoil I was experiencing when my dog was diagnosed with carcinoma. My Rottie (Duke) is 8.4 years old and he has been such a loving, faithful, protective teddy bear. I discoved a lump/swelling in his hind leg early December 2012 and after so many testings and second opinion from an oncologist, he was diagnosed with carcinoma early March 2013. Ultrasound revealed that he had a mass/dead tumor on top of his bladder. Unfortunately, my husband and I could not agree on pursuing chemo and radiation therapy for my rottie. Therefore, I was determined to find an alternative treatment plan for him. I gathered as much information from your book as possible and got started on following your cancer diet and purchased the apocaps and k-9 immunity plus supplements. Duke’s appetite started decreasing early April and so I started to find different food options, including cooking for him the recipe in your book. I was so excited and felt so optimistic that I was going to help him because I wanted to make sure he knew and felt that I was not giving up on him. Duke devoured the food the first day and still the next day. I felt so happy because he seemed energetic and back to his playful self. However, his appetite has taken a nose dive for the past week. I’ve tried can food, treats…just about anything, but he may eat it one time and then will refuse it. I may be rambling so I’m very sorry, but I’m just feeling so sad, and have been crying off an on today as he has definitely regressed drastically. He seems weak and sad. I’ve tried to remain optimistic with him and I know I’m not suppose to cry in front of him, but I had to cry with him today in fear that I may not get a chance to express my love and everything I want to say to him tomorrow. I feel that he is slipping away and feel so much sadness. I’ve had to cut back on giving him the apocaps and other supplements other than Piroxicam, because he is not eating all that much. I have an appt with his vet this Thursday to do a recheck. I feel frustrated at the same time because his regular vet does not seem well informed about alternative cancer treatment/supplements and he will be monitoring Duke instead of the oncologist because we did not go through with chemo and radiation. Can any one give me any advice/guidance? I’m desparate and feel alone in this. I’m trying to fight for him and remain optimistic, but it breaks my heart to see him in his current state. What else can I do? Do I need to consider letting him rest in peace? Thank you so much in advance for your support and guidance.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Hi Sue
      this sounds very hard.
      first, might consider (all under veterinary supervision) dropping the piroxicam, and starting some famotidine and/or sucralfate in the off chance that med is irritating the lining of his stomach.
      Hopefully appetite will return. Mirtazapine (mainly) and ginger/slippery elm may help a bit. Once there, consider half doses of oral neoplasene along with ongoing mirtazapine so the neoplasene does not sicken your dog. your vet needs to order it with what you are currently doing, +/- the piroxicam.
      And if all is going downhill, a post for you: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/i-can-see-the-end-but-i-am-not-ready/
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

  4. jackie nolen on April 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

    As a follow up to my post above – we did return for her visit in 7 days after the first dose of adriamycin and Lola was doing so well they put off the vincristine for one week. she was to return for another check up visit in 7 days and she did receive the vincristine on that visit. Her doctor said her blood work was great and lymph nodes are still feeling normal. She did reduce her prednisone from 5 mg. every other day to 2.5 mg. every other day and we will monitor to see if there are any changes in her appetite and mood at the lower dosage. So although the cancer cannot be cured we are very optimistic for her immediate future and will continue to have postive thoughts and enjoy every day we have left with her.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Dear Jackie
      great…keep us posted and keep up the good work!
      Dr D

  5. jackie nolen on March 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

    thank you so much for your quick response. we took lola back to her doctor and after blood tests her vet said she is out of remission and she had her first treatment of adriamycin yesterday. after discussing options with her vet after diagnosis we did not start her with the adriamycin chemo drug because of her age and the possibility of heart problems. her vet started her out with just vincristine and pred as a kind of maintenance program and she responded great for three months with the lymph nodes shrinking so much they were undetectable to us, never losing her appetite or spunky personality but i have learned much since then and would probably have started with the adriamycin. It is the next day after adriamycin and other than her feeling very lethargic last night and again today and not very hungry she has had no other side effects. her vet did prescribe cerenia in case of nausea but she has not needed them yet but i understand she could still experience vomiting and diarrhea several days after adriamycin. In hindsight we should have started with the adriamycin but were devastated over the diagnosis, did not have time to do much research, and felt we needed to start doing something immediately. Our options here in Arkansas are limited but we were referred to the best animal hospital available in central arkansas. Right now the plan is to return for a follow up visit in 7 days and do blood work and if all is good we will continue to use the vincristine once a week, 5 mg of pred a day, and then another treatment of adriamycin in 4-5 weeks. My husband and i have discussed the different options as well as the financial liability and agree to continue treatment as long as her quality of life is not diminished or our bank account depleted. I find the articles and blog posts very helpful on your website to me mentally and in making decisions for Lola’s care. I don’t feel so alone now! Any suggestions to our plan of attack would be greatly appreciated.

  6. jackie nolen on February 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I was so happy to find your website. I believe as well that a positive outlook is best for my dog as well as me as we fight this battle together. My Lola, a beagle/lab/cocker??? mix was diagnosed with lymphoma end of Nov. 2012. We believe she is minimum 11 yrs. old-not sure as she was a stray. We started chemo treatments first week of Dec. – vincristine every 7 days for 6 weeks and now every 9-10 days as well as prednizone starting at 10 mg. per day which has been reduced to 5 mg. every 2-3 days. She has responded well to treatment and all lymph nodes went down after first couple of treatments. She has never slowed down eating or drinking or slowed down in her enjoyment of life other than one would expect from an older dog before or after diagnosis. I have downloaded the dog cancer diet and am anxious to incorporate into our treatment. Are there supplements we might ask our vet about? We just noticed tonight that her lymph nodes in her neck and under one front leg have swollen a little. They had reduced so much it was difficult to feel them. Is this normal after 9-10 chemo treatments? Thanks again for your site and i expect to be a regular visitor.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on March 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Jackie,
      Is your dog only getting vincristine and pred? In general a mutli-agent CHOP chemo protocol is recommended for lymphoma – higher remission rates, longer remission durations and longer survival times. Obviously I cannot make specific recommendations for your pet, but check out the Guide for the complete chapter on lymphoma and there is a ton of info on supplements. Ans don’t forget to discuss everything with your vet/oncologist.
      Good luck to you and Lola!
      All my best, Dr Sue

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Dear Jackie,
      Glad you are taking a proactive approach in helping your dog with positive guardianship!
      First thing to do is make sure the lymph node is not a relapse..so get that checked by your vet. As to supplements and what else can be done, perhaps this post will help you get started!
      https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/an-overview-of-what-else-can-i-do/
      Best
      Dr D

  7. Pam on February 19, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Pattu, my 10.5 year old golden retriever, Phoebe, had her first Immunocidin injections on 2/15; however, she has a recurrence of mammary gland adenocarcinoma rather than osteosarcoma. Hoping and praying that with the 85% success rate of this new treatment that she can beat the odds. Prayers to you and your Dobie!

    Pam

  8. Pattu on February 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

    My 7 year old Dobie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on Jan. 21, 2013. The lump just appeared on her leg….hard to believe. We are not choosing amputation. Lexi has been started on Immunocidin shots every other week and IV Vit. C therapy. She is also on Mycoforte Mushrooms, Essiac, Artemesinin and Butryex along with no carbs, sugar and high proteins and eating very healthy. Has anyone had any success with Immunocidin and the IV Vit C therapy and if so, what else were you using ? Thanks.

  9. zena on January 27, 2013 at 2:47 am

    My Fizzly contracted Bone Cancer at 6 years old,and was given 4 weeks to live, she had her leg removed, and went through 3 Rounds of Chemotherapy, she fought this Battle with a Positive outlook and never once felt sorry for herself 🙂
    She laughed at all timelines and lived for over a year, outdoing all vets predictions 🙂
    When she decided to end her Battle, she did so on her own terms and with a courage that would astound anyone <3

    Her Bravery is a lesson we could all learn from and its something that left me in awe, she showed me how to love and live life to the fullest and love every second of everyday !

    When Fizzle's passed I decided to start a Blog in the hopes of helping others who are going through this devastating road that is Cancer.

    I do it all in Fizzly's Name, I offer a friendly place where your thoughts and worries will be dealt with care, and hopefully I will help others, through my Fizzly's Courage and In Fizzly's Spirit I will remain ………

    Love Zena and Fizzly in Spirit xoxox

    This is the Link for exactly this reason on how a Positive Outlook will help not only yourself but also your dog 🙂

    http://bonecancer-dogs-fizz.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/emotionally-coping-with-amputation.html

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Dear Zena, thanks for your contribution!!
      Dr D

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Zena,
      Thanks for sharing and your positive outlook! Fizzly was lucky to have you (and I can tell that feeling was mutual)>
      All my best, Dr Sue

  10. Helen sargent on January 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

    My springer Rosie was dx with a grade 3 mast cell tumour (back leg) in July last year & given 2/3 months, she had 6 radiotherapy sessions which ended in august & 6 chemo’s ending in October, today she went back to the cancer clinic for a ultrasound scan & blood test, she remains free from detectable cancer 🙂

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Dear Helen,
      great news!
      Dr D

  11. Dottie Hyatt on January 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    When my toy poodle was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer at the age of 8, I was devastated. She was the smartest dog ever created. Because of Dr. Dressler and taking a positive outlook to her condition, we were able to take her from a disinterested, tiny mass of a life form with cluster seizures to once again running, jumping and her greatest love – swimming. Holistic treatment with the aide of Dr. Dressler’s book extended her life 6 months, but most important of all, it was a true quality of life 6 months. She was swimming 1/2 hour before she died. I cannot think of a better way to succumb to a terminal illness than to be doing what you love best, without pain, and being with your loved ones. Is optimism appropriate with a terminal illness – you bet it is. I do not think there is a finer doctor than Dr. Dressler who is making it his life’s mission to find answers to cure our canine family members and end the suffering that goes along with those illnesses. Holistic treatment with supplements is worth every penny.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Dear Dottie,
      thank you for your kind words and I am so pleased that your poodle did well and had a happy time here with you. Thanks for sharing this.
      Best,
      Dr D

  12. Carole Gaved on January 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    My beautiful Saffron lived for 7 months and 3 day’s from diagnosis. I took her home, with my vet’s blessing, knowing that my husband and I would love and care for Saffron, quality of life is paramount for our pets. Our vet knew Saffron would only ever have one bad day. When that day came I called my husband home from work and my surgery. That afternoon Saffron crossed the Rainbow Bridge amid a sea of tears, but her passing was gentle, quick and caring. The look in her eyes said “thank you Mum” there was no doubt in any of our minds, Saffron was ready, it was her time. I wouldn’t’ have asked for more time, we’ d been blessed have those 7 months and 3 days given as a precious gift.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Dear Carole,
      thank you for this contribution. It sure sounds as you did the right thing.
      Dr D

  13. Jennifer Heim on January 3, 2013 at 5:27 am

    My 11 yr old Maltese was diagnosed with stage three mast cell tumor near her spine, was removed surgically with dirty margins and told she had approx 3 months to live, that was Oct 2011. She’s been on the cancer diet with supplements and she has more energy that she had two years before her diagnosis. I also believe having some bad teeth pulled helped reduce the inflammation, she also has heart issues. My other Maltese who is also 11 was on steroids for an incorrect diagnosis of collapsing trachea when in reality he had a rare heart condition where his aorta is blocked. Because of the steroids he now has diabetes, pancreatitis, heart failure, pneumonia and within two weeks he is completely blind from the diabetes. Upsetting as this is, I’m trying to remain positive, but my question to Dr. Dressler is: Would this diet help this little guy, he only weighs 5 lbs, but he doesn’t have cancer. I’m sure you must know that if you mention this diet to your veterinarian they kind of dismiss you or give you a can of science diet. I’ve seen first hand how the diet has helped my Maltese with cancer and I can’t help but think it might help my other one, but I’m not sure about the Diabetes. Any thoughts would be helpful. Jennifer

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Dear Jennifer,
      I am sorry to hear this news. I would hesitate to put a dog who did not have cancer on the dog cancer diet, simply because it is designed for dogs that have particular problems related to cancer. I worry the high fat might upset the pancreas in your diabetic dog. However, there are some home-made diet recipes your vet might be willing to provide to help a dog with diabetes. As to a good supplement for healthy dogs, you might check into Everpup, which I designed.
      Hope this helps
      Dr D

  14. Ellie on January 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    My golden retriever was diagnosed with lymphoma in his brain in September 2011.We chose to do the 6 month CHOP chemo protocol and see where that got us. In the meantime, I kept doing all the training and activities that I would have been doing if he was healthy. He ran in, and qualified in 3 Master Hunt tests while he was still on chemo. Now my little miracle dog has completed his Master Hunter title, his obedience CDX title, won some classes at Rally trials and is working towards his obedience UD. My plan was to see how far he could go in whatever time he had left, which the oncologist had said would be 6 to 9 months. He is well past the 9 month mark and apparently healthy, so 2013 looks like its going to be a great year.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on January 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Fabulous news Ellie! Thanks for sharing and continued health, happiness and training!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  15. Renata Wong on January 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    My Noble who is 13 1/2 years old goldretriever/ mix has a mass about 6 inch on his dewlap area on his neck. He is eating , drinking leaving his days as normal it is. He is not in pain ( researched in see how a dog will show pain) , he even turn his front legs and place it on top of that lump sometimes when he lay to take nap. Vet recomend surgery to remove. I told her I will not place him in chemo for the horros tells I read since he was diagisnotic with cancer 12/12/12. I can’t decide to allow the operation and place him to that pain. what will happen if I do not remove it? will that lump spread? it seems to me that becamee smaller. I have place him on diet that you recomend, fish oil too. It is all about him to be ok as best I can do for him to live confortable. What you think?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Renata, why don’t you check with your vet on getting a fine needle aspirate or a punch biopsy done to see if it is a cancerous mass or not? That will give you important information to see if it is dangerous or not.
      Best,
      Dr D

  16. Britta Waddell on January 2, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Dear Dr. D.,

    after my Border Collie Floyd was diagnosed with cancer (analgland carcinoma) almost 2 years ago, my vet only gave him 3 more months to live. This bascially was the end of my live too.I found you on the internet and got in contact with you and you helped immensly. Not only with your positive approach, but with all the medications, diet, etc. you recommended. 12 months later my dog was still alive, very happy and my vet called him the ‘miraculous dog’; he said he had never seen anything like this in his more than 30 years of being a vet/surgeon. Last March he had to be put asleep, but not because of his cancer, he simply was old and his heart and kidneys failed. Thank you again Dr. D. to help me and my dog with you positive approach and that we both didn’t give up and had a fantastic life together right to his end.
    Britta Waddel, New Zealand

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Dear Britta,
      that is great news. I am so pleased.
      Thanks for sharing your experience,
      Dr D

  17. Elaine on January 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

    When my dog, Spike was diagnosed with cancer, my whole world came crashing down around me. I was told he wouldn’t live, I cried for days. A good friend of mine told me not to cry on him. She told me he needed positive energy to fight the cancer. I changed my way of thinking after that. I told myself “he’s not dying today!” Here we are 18 months later (and a year of treatment) and he’s doing just fine.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Elaine,
      that is fantastic news.
      Thanks!!
      Dr D

  18. georgina on January 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Hello, Drs D & S,
    SA vet working with electron radiation in Johannesburg.
    Before I radiate any pet I spend aprox two hours with the owner, trying to explain cell biology,DNA, cancer treatments and prognosis etc. I try to be completely neutral and tell the owners I will give them the facts they will make the decision. No pressure, phone in two days. After analysing approx 1000 cases there were 4% that said they wouldn’t radiate any other pet. Interestingly it was because of time (3Xweekly) or finance, not that their expections were not met.
    Best wishes for 2013.
    Georgina

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Dear Dr. Goergina
      Thanks for the information. You clearly have done an excellent job of both education as well as managing expectations so everyone knows what to expect. This I believe will help not only dog guardians but also is an important reminder for health professionals in general.
      Great insights
      Dr D

  19. Jacquie on January 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Hi, i just wanted to let you know about the experience my family has just been through. Our beloved holley a 7 year old kelpie was diagnosed with lymphoma on 26/10/11. She passed away on 25/09/12. We had the opportunity to go overseas at the end of 2011, but all decided to used that holiday money to put her through chemotherpy and other treatments. I read Dr D’s book and took on a few of his ideas and suggestions. The reality is we only had 11 more months with her, but in those months we had the chance to use the power of our words and touch to tell her how much we love her and what she means to us, whether it really did help her or not i cant really say, but we do get a little comfort in the fact that we tried so hard for her and we had some of our most precious moments in that time. She left us being the most loved and cherished dog.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks for sharing with the group, Jacquie.
      Dr D

  20. Mary Emmons on January 2, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Sometimes all we have is our optimisim!! Thanks Dr. D!

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Mary
      🙂

  21. Garry Sheen on January 2, 2013 at 8:57 am

    One of my new year resolutions, is to be more optimistic about our boy living with TCC. I have tended to get too downhearted whenever logan has any GI upset, wont eat his meals (he has been a strange eater on and off for years!) Or just seems a little deprssed himself. Of course positvity cannot in itself ‘cure’ cancer alone, but it can create a far better environment for our canine family to thrive in as they live with cancer. And we all feel better when we have a more positive attitude, dont we?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Yes Garry, it comes down to attention management and how that impacts everything….thanks for your input!
      Dr D

  22. Estelle Nelson on January 2, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I have posted here before regarding various issues with my 14 year old Cocker mix who is battling epitheliotropic cutaneous lymphoma. He started chemo in August 2012, nothing every put him in remission, maybe it stabilized the skin tumors for about a week but then everything went back. He is currently only on Pred 20 mg a day and 4 fish oil caps a day, Transfer Factor and Budwig. The disease has now progressed to his face and head , all the tumors are bleeding and have heavy exudate and he has total alopecia, dry crusty skin with black and green scabs all over. The onc told me there is nothing more we can give him as far as chemo. I am financially wiped out. He somehow continues to eat very well, he is on a home-cooked diet, but very lethargic. Where do I go from here? I don’t really believe in euthanasia. What can I do to make him more comfortable? Surely there must be something besides ending his life. I might mention that I am an RN and have been with many patients that were dying and on hospice. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money the afford hospice for my dog, just as I am sure that none of myprevious patients would have been able to afford hospice wereitnot for Medicare. Thank you in advance for your answer.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Dear Estelle,
      there are some methods in the Guide that are not being used.
      Discuss all with your vet.
      How about:
      1. drop the dose of pred so you can use Neoplasene and Apocaps??
      2. Why not supplement with safflower oil or CLA directly? this plus flax lignans basically gives you a more potent budwig plan.https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/conjugated-linoleic-acid-and-dog-cancer/
      3. Why are you not using beta glucans while on transfer factor? At this stage it seems appropriate (no, we don’t have evidence that mushrooms stimulate lymphoma and you could use biobran instead anyway…maybe with berez drops for a little kicker)
      These are some initial thoughts,
      I hope this helps
      D

  23. Sue Armstrong MRCVS on January 2, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I so totally agree with Dr Dressler about the mindset of the Guardian being so important. I treat animals with cancer every day of my working life and we know that our dogs pick up the emotions that we humans project onto them – when they are still coping with their disease and living life to the full despite cancer, any upset and negativity in the Guardian can make them anxious and confused. It is not possible to be free of all negativity when your dog has been diagnosed with cancer as we all know but every moment you have with your dog is so precious and it is so easy to lose the joy of the moment – negativity robs us of being present with our animals. There is a time for sadness and grief but positivity in life wins every time for me even in the letting go – and even if the time left is short.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Sue,
      good points, thank you.
      Dr D

  24. Julie Isidro on January 2, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I agree wholeheartedly! I learned so much from the Guide that helped me choose the right treatments for our dog Haley. She lived for 8 months following her initial diagnosis, and the last 2 months were an unexpected gift. We were able to feel positive and confident with our decisions right up until the end. Thank you Dr

    s Dressler and Ettinger.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks Julie, that means a lot.
      Best
      Dr D

  25. CJ Anderson on January 2, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I had Foxie, who was given a month to live after discovery of insulinoma (sp). She lived 4 years and walked again with herbs. Junebug, my therapy dog had chemo and naturopathy acupuncture and herbs and lived one more year rather then the 1 month without help she was given.

    I deal with rescue and hospice, and tell everyone it doesnt matter if 1hour, day or month that they have, it is that they were loved and loved you that is what counts!

  26. Kim Gau on January 2, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Even though it’s unrealistic, ask anyone, no amount of time would ever be “enough”. Like the lady in your story, thanks to you I got an additional 12 months, at least. Was it enough? Of course not. But it was certainly better than just the median 6 month statistic I was given. And, to be honest, it was this very lesson in the original dog cancer survival guide that even made this possible. I had given up and I was ready to pout and cry my way through the next 6 months. Then I read about how to be the best guardian I could be and realized I needed to cherich these last months, not waste them so my last memories were shrouded in misery. I couldn’t ignore the situation, of course, so I gave myself permission to grieve for a week but after that it was nothing but positive thoughts and actions. Had it not been for your advice, I might not have even tried the full spetrum diet. And now when I tell people I lost my dog to cancer, I don’t end the sentence there. I get to add, “But he lived a year longer than expected!” I’ll always be grateful for that.

  27. Joan on January 2, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Being optimistic allowed me to give my dog the best in her remaining days. My dog only lived 6 months past the initial diagnosis of bone cancer. I thought it was discovered early. The dog had only recently started to limp and her bone was still hard. She went thru the amputation and 4 chemo treatments. I tried Budwig diet, K-9 Immunity Plus, Apocaps, modified citrus pectin but still only got 6 months. But because I remained optimistic, the dog never gave in and remained active and happy until the last couple of days when the lungs were clearly not providing enough oxygen. Based on work done at U of PA, I know my dog had a very aggressive bone cancer. (Her tumor expressed the antigen Her-2/neu.) Immunology testing have chemo found that her lymphocytes failed produce adequate D4 & D8 cells. Still, we had a great 6 months and she was still trying to chase rabbits.

  28. Dr. Susan Ettinger on December 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Dr D,
    What a great post! I often tell Guardians to be “cautiously optimistic.” First get educated with available options, statistics, response rates, expected side effects. And then I recommend hope and faith. I have Guardians so worried about if the dog will get sick or will they beat the statistics, that they forget to enjoy each day with their dog. The negative energy is not good for them or their dogs. So be positive, and enjoy the days you have together. Dr D, thanks for such a great post!
    With hope and faith, Dr Sue

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Why thank you, Dr Ettinger!!!
      🙂
      D