UPDATE (July 19, 2020):
Well – the universe has a funny way of taking care of things.
With the veterinary world not having much more to offer than amputation and pain management (which they suggest is largely just palliative before they assume it would spread) it’s been a difficult few weeks.
I called a holistic vet in Toronto, hopeful that they may have some other ideas, or options but the soonest they could get us in was October. I was so disappointed as I wasn’t sure if she’d even still be here in October 😭 .
Seeing our sweet girl in pain has been so difficult. The pain meds don’t seem to be helping so we booked an amputation for July 23rd. I had a lot of mixed feelings about this and was feeling pretty defeated.
Then a little over a week ago we got a call that there was a cancellation and if we wanted we could come in on July 16th. It took me a second to clue in – this was the universe working with us, supporting us – so we took it!
I AM SO GLAD WE DID.
I walked into the vet office feeling scared he’d just tell us there was nothing to do but that wasn’t the case at all. After discussing some of the unique factors in her case he shared a number of things to do and try!
After assessing her he did some acupuncture on her. She seemed to really like the acupuncture and settled right in. We discussed diet and put her on a strictly ketogenic diet (this protocol is sometimes used in humans as well if they have cancer with the belief that robbing the cancer cells of glucose significantly limits their ability to reproduce as they do best in a more acidic environment, which sugar basically supports) .
In terms of supplements he actually took her off of some of the ones I was giving her. He explained that in cases like this you want to be very specific with your supplementation so you don’t overwhelm the system with too many things. He gave us a few simple but powerful supplements which we have been using.
Additional things he also is having us do is giving her mistletoe injections every other day (another natural cancer therapy used in humans) and having her on a few homeopathic remedies. I’m very excited to see how this supports her.
We’ve also started managing her pain with CBD oil, both orally and topically. We have noticed she actually seems more comfortable using CBD alone than when we were giving her both the vet meds AND the CBD. This is great news as we can keep her on the CBD longer term and can use more traditional pain meds as needed.
I walked out of our appointment with a deep sense of hope. Since then we have seen her be more comfortable and have even felt some significant changes in her leg itself. I’m sure our renewed hope is also supporting this.
At this point we have decided to postpone the amputation to allow her body an opportunity to respond to treatment.
It’s funny because I truly believe this event is happening in our life for a reason. I have no idea what the outcome will be but I’m confident that this is much bigger than our dog being ill. This has already started to shift things in our lives in ways we hadn’t thought about before. All I know is we are here to support her and learn whatever lessons are here for us to learn.
We are feeling so grateful for all the love that everyone has sent our way – it has helped tremendously. Thank you so much – from all of us, but especially Miss Willow Mae 🐶 💓 !
Last week I noticed a bump on my dog’s leg.
Since I’m also an Animal Osteopathic Practitioner (in addition to a human osteopathic practitioner!), I had noticed she’d been favouring her one leg after playing the other day so I thought giving her an osteopathic treatment would be helpful.
But when I felt the bump on her forelimb, I felt the panic rise in me.
I spent 2 years learning the importance of understanding canine disease process and knowing when to refer someone back to their vet – of the lumps and bumps that definitely needed a veterinarian- and this definitely felt like one of those bumps.
My heart sank and I woke my husband in tears. She’s a giant breed and I know that bumps like this could be extremely insidious. We only rescued her from Tennessee last summer, she’s not even 3 years old!
Luckily, our vet is an absolute dream (shout out to the wonderful Heather Sims at Sims Animal Hospital just off of Hwy 15 in the East end of Kingston), she helped make sure we got imagining done ASAP.
And the news wasn’t good. The x-rays show what appears to be a bone mass/ tumour.
Bone cancers are some of the more common, and sadly, wildly aggressive cancers out there, especially in giant breed dogs.
With this seemingly bad news my mind flipped to “ok – if I was diagnosed with a very serious cancer, what would I try while waiting for more information from my doctor? What could I do to support my body? Would those things work for my dog?”
I made a list – and then wondered why it would take a cancer diagnosis for me to actually double down on some of these things?!?
This moment of critical reflection made me realise that maybe I could be doing a lot more for both myself and my dog – to improve our health as a family for not just her and I, but for my husband and our other fur babies as well.
Before I share my list with you, I’d like to be clear. I am not suggesting that any of the things below are going to stop or cure cancer. These are things that we are implementing in my family to help support my dog (and us) during this time. We are working closely with our veterinarian to explore all options and treatment plans. Everyone has their own path- this is simply our personal path.
We are Being Impeccable with Our Words- and Not Jumping to Conclusions.
Obviously when hearing your dog appears to have a tumour and the most likely culprit is the very aggressive osteosarcoma, you can’t help but start googling osteosarcoma (in truth I already knew how insidious osteosarcomas were from my training so I was extra anxious waiting for our vet’s thoughts).
But after a number of conversations, my husband and I agreed, its not helpful to discuss her prognosis or this condition when we don’t even have confirmation 100% that this is what it is. In fact, at this point our vet isn’t even recommending a biopsy because disturbing the mass may spread cells to the rest of the body if it is cancerous.
So for right now we have agreed to believe only the facts: there is a mass that has shown up on an x-ray.
This means something is physiologically awry and her immune system is in need of support. We have shifted from looking into “diseases” to focusing on what we can do to support her immune system.
We won’t be saying “she has cancer” – she has a a mass. We won’t be saying that she only has months to live because none of us really know how much time any of us have. Why commit ANY ounce of possibility and energy to those outcomes when that energy can be directed into something more positive.
If we stay in a state of fear it won’t serve her or us- as I’ve learned working with dogs, they can easily pick up on your energy – so if our positivity can create ease for our minds and hers, we are going to try our hardest to keep our minds focused there.
Food as Medicine
One thing our vet did suggest was that tumours seem to proliferate with grain/sugar consumption. We already feed a raw food diet (veggies, a tiny bit of grain and raw meat only) but we are being extra diligent that we don’t give her any unnecessary sugars and avoiding giving her any grains at all during this time.
I’ve also spent the weekend focused on learning about other foods and supplements that can support dogs, especially in cases of cancer.
There are some really amazing supplements out there that are showing huge promise in both the animal and human worlds.
Medicinal mushrooms like Turkey Tail and Reishi as well as a number of herbs and roots (like turmeric) show exciting promise in the world of supporting the body’s immune system, especially in cancers. With our vet’s blessing we are going forward and will be adding some of these superfoods into her diet.
Osteopathy and PEMF Therapy
One of the most important pillars of osteopathy is that the body is self-healing and self-repairing. However, the only way the body can do this is with good circulation.
Osteopathy relies on removing physical obstructions (like a joint out of alignment or restricted tissue) so that circulation can get to a tissue to heal it.
We also use a number of oscillatory or pumping movements that help to mechanically stimulate fluid to travel from one area to another. By improving fluid and blood flow, it allows nutrients and immune cells to travel to the sites that need it most.
I have also long considered purchasing a PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) mat and thought if I ever REALLY needed it I would get on board. The only reason a hadn’t until now was due to cost. But then, when we found out our girl wasn’t well it pushed me to see that a PEMF mat would be an investment for my family. Something that could not only benefit our girl but also our other pets and us as humans.
A PEMF mat uses pulsed electromagnetic fields to create oscillations/vibrations in your body, kind of like a subtle osteopathic treatment! These types of impulses help to stimulate vasomotion (the contraction and dilation at the smallest blood vessels) which is vital to all tissue health.
There is interesting research emerging about these types of devices and their therapeutic benefits. My dog already seems to be walking more comfortably since we started using it on her and as for myself – I’ve noticed a profound change to some chronic swelling I’ve had in my own legs!
The Power of Intention
One of the very first things we learned in osteopathic college was “thoughts are things so you might as well have good ones”.
When we told our friends and family about our girl we asked that instead of sympathy they send us nothing but positive thoughts, prayers or vibes. Any energy that they could devote intended for her was energy she didn’t have directed at her before!
In terms of my thoughts personally- I have been including her in my meditations in the morning, thinking of her and my love for her. Taking the time to think of nothing in my mind except for her, her health, the joy she sparks in me. How often do we really do that? Sit there and focus on how much love someone shares with us- and what that feels like without distraction? If thoughts are things – these thoughts are exactly the kinds of things I want to see show up in my life.
I don’t know if anything that I’ve outlined above will be enough. Maybe she is only meant to be here for a short while or maybe she’ll make a full recovery and we’ll celebrate her 13th birthday 10 years from now!
At the end of the day we have decided that we are going to take everything one day at a time. We are going to be so thankful for every snuggle, every bark and every tail wag. We are open to everything from spontaneous healing to a 3 legged dog or anything else that is in store for us.
What I do know for certain though is that we will do everything we can out of pure and complete love for her and whenever her time comes , we won’t have a single regret, because when you make decisions out of pure love there can never be anything to regret.
ONE BIG FAVOUR
One last thing…If you could even for just a moment keep my sweet girl in your thoughts and send positive, healing vibes our way that would be amazing. Her name is Willow Mae – she’s the one in the picture! Even one more positive thought is more than the moment before ❤️🙏