Cancer Awareness Month – A Personal Awareness

Today’s post is not a “fun” post, like you are accustomed to on this blog. However, I felt this was a good time to explain some things. As you all know, cancer, in all it’s forms, is rampant in our country and across much of the world. I doubt that there is anyone reading this whose life has not been affected by it’s destructive ravages. Blogville has certainly lost it’s share of beloved animals, and many bloggers have also bravely battled this usurper. My first encounter with the dreaded “C” was when I lost my aunt – who I called Nan and was a second mother to me. She had intestinal cancer, treated with radiation that was not well understood or controlled back in the 60’s, and at the cost of a forever colostomy bag. As a teen I remember helping with that bag, swallowing back what kept trying to erupt from my stomach, and never letting on it bothered me. As too many of you know, that’s what you do for love. I remember Nan celebrating her 10 year cancer-free date, only to be once again struck down – this time permanently – by this killer.Nan was the fun adult in my life. She taught me how to waltz; she took me trick or treating; she sat at the dining room table and colored with me for hours on end; she taught me how to plant pansies (sorry, Nan, that one didn’t take so well) and pull weeds; she taught me card games; we laid in bed together while she made hand shadow puppets on the wall; she showed me how to walk with a book on my head to teach me posture; we sat in front of the fireplace and put together beautiful puzzles for hours on end; and she taught me the correct table setting for a formal dinner.

My next encounter with the dreaded C was with my sweet Sammy dog. The first sign something was very wrong was when he stopped eating. I worked at the vet hospital at the time and, after hours, assisted in the surgery that removed a huge malignant tumor from his abdomen. The vet, Dr. Sally, went through three saline solution bags, letting them run into his open abdomen and swishing around to try to remove any remaining cancer cells. I suctioned as she swished.  Sammy had always been a shy, sweet dog, playing second fiddle to my first schnauzer, Freda, and afraid of his own shadow. Dr. Sally gave Sam – nine years old at the time – just three months to live after the surgery; she even showed me the article in her medical book that said so. Many prayers went up and Sam miraculously recovered. He seemed to realize that he had been given another chance at life, and he was determined to take it with all the zest and gusto he could manage. No longer afraid of anything, he flirted with all the ladies (yes, dogs can flirt) and was my main boat dog.Sam loved to jump off our little pontoon boat, swim to an island, explore for a while, then wait until he got eye contact with me before swimming back to the boat, which I later named “The Sammy Joe.” Sammy lived two more years before a different type of cancer hit again and took our boy from us.This was Sammy’s last Christmas. He got a new Teddy Bear sweater that he was so proud to wear. He was 11 years old.

I always did everything the vets told me I should do: give monthly HW prevention that also contained flea and tick prevention, get the dogs’ vaccinated annually, feed the best dog foods, brush their teeth with pet toothpaste, etc. After all, this is why they went to school and they knew best, right?

Then, as many of you know, my busy, vibrant 13-year-old schnauzer Lexi came down with a carcinoma that first showed it’s ugly self as a tumor hanging from her upper gums. The above picture is of me brushing her teeth.I went out of town for 3 days, then it took me 2 days to begin to brush Lexi’s teeth again. In just those 5 days this tumor appeared in her mouth and grew huge. (Look just to the left of her canine.) I immediately took her to the vet, who removed the tumor and a small part of her upper jaw, and sent it all for a biopsy. Upon arriving home from the vet, my stoic girl cried in pain until my husband, whose truck got a flat tire on the way, got back with the pain meds. Lexi never liked being held, but the only thing that comforted her was me holding her close and rocking her while I sang little songs to her.

We were then sent to UTK (University of Tennessee in Knoxvillle) Vet School, where they did more tests. There was a new , promising drug that had shown great results, but would take a month to begin working. They told me that Lexi did not have a month. 

From the first day I arrived home with her as a puppy, my heart dog was always a precocious girl. So, as if to prove the vets wrong, she lived three more months before she succumbed to what was already – seen on x-rays – in her lungs and heading to her brain.

I have not told you all of this to make you sad. Rather, I think it explains what I did next. During the year following Lexi’s death, I grieved hard. But that’s not all I did. I started asking hard questions. What caused this cancer? How could I have prevented it? What more could I have done? So I began searching the web for answers. First, I focused on food. I began to read informative articles on why prepared pet food is so harmful. First I found out that the high heat that kibble is subjected to creates cancer-causing agents. And kibble is subjected to it first in cooking the meat, then again after it is formed into kibble. I then read over and over again how dog food companies source their ingredients, and I began to understand that most of them, even the supposed “good ones” will do or falsely claim anything about their products to get consumers to buy their brands. Then I read about the Raw Diet and realized that, done right, this was the safest way to feed. I submerged myself in information so that I would have the best chance of doing it right. Within a few months after she arrived at our house I started Lucy on the B.A.R.F. Raw Diet.                                     chicken drumstick, gizzards, egg, spinach and coconut oil

beef, kale and sweet potato

I’m sure many of you  were shocked and/or put off when you read about this on my blog. But I have always tried to be honest and transparent, and this was now a part of our lives. Feeding raw takes a lot of work and time.

Next, I started learning more about vaccinations and discovered that, just like people, most vaccinations are unnecessary after the initial puppy vacs. Not only are they unnecessary, but they play havoc with a dog’s gut, from where their immune systems become strong or weak.  My holistic vet has worked out a plan for Lucy and Xena to have titers taken every three years. The titers will let her know if they are still protected from the diseases that vaccinations cover. We have agreed they will each get a 3-year rabies vaccination at that time because it’s the law.

Have you ever asked yourself why you are poisoning your dog? I used to do it every time I gave them their monthly heart worm prevention, and the answer was always because I don’t know how else to prevent heart worms. Then, through more research and study, I found out how.

There is a DNA  heart worm test available from Canada. The normal occult hw tests only show the presence of adult heart worms. If the result is positive, the dog has to go through a long, dangerous, expensive and sometimes painful treatment. The DNA test, however, detects even the smallest beginnings of heart worms. It takes almost six months for the heart worms to mature, so Lucy and Xena get the DNA test every five and a half months. So far, so good. If, however, anything was detected, one single injection of ivermectin would kill the larvae. So no, I am not ignoring it or downplaying the terrible affects of heart worms. I am simply approaching it from a different angle, one where I am not asking myself why am I poisoning my dogs.

All of these seemingly radical changes I made have been done for one purpose. And that is to never again have to say goodbye to my beloved dogs because of cancer. Everything I have changed is because so many of the old, accepted ways have been proven to cause cancer. It has taken time and much study and reading; it didn’t happen overnight. I have to keep reminding myself that I couldn’t help what happened to Lexi because I didn’t know any better. And now, I’ll never know if it would have made any difference.  I do things differently now, praying it is the right way, and go forward from here.

So, my dogs eat raw food, don’t get vaccinations, and don’t take heart worm prevention. I use essential oils, probiotics, herbs, and other natural aids to keep them healthy and help when they have a problem. I also have the guidance and good advice of a holistic veterinarian who is open to new ways of doing things. May these “extreme” efforts keep my girls healthy and free of cancer all their lives.

I’m not adding a lot of links. You know how to Google anything you are interested in learning more about. I will tell you that I rely a lot on dogsnaturally.com and mercola.com, from whom I get daily emails. And if there is any question in my head about what I’ve read, my vet is wonderful about taking my calls and discussing it over the phone. (Xena’s not the only one who loves her.)

May your lives and the lives of your loved ones be cancer-free. Let’s work to beat this ubiquitous disease in our lifetimes.

Amy, aka Mom, aka Mommy

Note: When you realize how vet schools are funded, some things the students are taught make much more sense. It is the giant drug and pet food companies – who make huge donations to the schools – who influence their choices.

26 thoughts on “Cancer Awareness Month – A Personal Awareness

  1. Thank you Amy for such a sensitive & insightful blog post. One of the reasons I got thrown out of 3 Vet practices was due to me refusing to let Dharth Henry be vaccinated & given treatments I suspected were not needed. I of course, DID make the mistake about him having that D**N FVR-CP injection…the Vet we had a t the time SHOULD AHVE REFUSED to give it to him KNOWING he had Panleukopenia & the serum would only reactivate the illness he had beaten but still carried. In the end, Panleuk destroyed his brain & you know the rest!
    Thankfully I did the right things for him in dietary ways. Probiotics & high quality foods (low fat & protein to keep IBD stable). By the time I found the Vet I’ve got now it was too late for Dharth Henry.
    As for Cancer: I lost my English Foxhound Rebecca to Stomach Cancer back in 1977. I’ve survived Cancer myself (ages 28-29) & *touch wood* am still Cancer free. My Mother died of Ovarian & Cervical Cancers in 1991 @ 61 yrs of age. I’ve lost so many dear friends to Some form of Cancer…..the last one being Barbara who adored Dharth Henry. She succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer this Summer after a brief battle…not quite 65 & a non-smoker/drinker! It still hurts to think she is gone.
    Maybe we all need to eat a RAW diet!! Something has to change!
    (((hugs))) & ❤ Sherri-Ellen

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sherri-Ellen, I’m so sorry for your many losses, also. Yes, something does have to change, and we can only do it one person at a time. That’s why I spread the word, while trying to not sound pushy or crazy, even. 🙂 I still have a long way to go, but little by little, I am adopting a healthier way of living.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ⭐️Gold star for your advocacy of holistic remedies, Amy. We agree with you on the efficacy of those kinds of treatments and think environmentally, a lot of the maladies we see these days are the outcome of adopting the ‘better living through chemistry’ lifestyle.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hari Om
    Am late here because was away – and the b***** tablet wouldn’t let me comment on WP… sigh…

    Anyway – GO GAL!!! As a doctor of homoeopathy, nutrition and other holistic therapies, I wholeheartedly commend you researches and choices. My Jade got mainly raw diet, plus the home-cooked choices such as dal (she loved it) and (for her only) liver pilaf – her absolute fave, but hold the carrots, please!!! Lost my mother to cancer eight years ago. All disease is cruel, but Cancer is just plain wicked. YAM xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t know you are a homeopathic doctor. Please always feel free to give me any advice or suggestions you see fit. I will welcome them with a totally open mind. I will have to look up dal and liver pilaf, as I have never heard of them. Xena also gets green tripe that I order in frozen 1 lb chubs. I loved the warning included: “Do not thaw in the microwave because you will never get the odor out of the house.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hari Om
        &*>
        Almost all dal recipes in the west call for onion and/or garlic; neither being authentic Indian ingredients! True, most Punjabis now include it in their diet, and the Mughal cuisine does have them, but they are ‘imports’ as are tomatoes and potatoes to the sub-continent. Indeed, chilli was from South America and not Indian either – but they learned to use and adapt!!!

        YAM’s DAL – suitable for two or four-leggers.
        1 cup of dal (lentils of your own choice – each has their own particular texture and flavour, but my two faves are simple yellow split peas or, if you can get it, yellow moong dal.)
        1 tablespoon mustard (rapeseed) oil – or coconut oil
        1 cup of shredded carrot
        2 tomatoes – ‘mushed’
        1 cup of shredded coriander fresh(cilantro – that’s for the humans and added at the very end)
        2 – 3 cups of water
        1 teaspoon coriander powder
        half ” cumin powder
        half ” turmeric powder
        pinch (or to taste) of hot paprika
        salt and pepper to taste

        soak the lentils overnight. Drain the liquid.
        in the oil, lightly saute the tomatoes and carrot then add the masala powders and saute until the aroma is ‘broken’ – be careful not to burn them! it can get sour.
        Add the soaked dal and the 2 cups of water, bring to boil, then knock back to simmer and keep an eye – add up to an extra cup if necessary.
        Looking for dal that goes mushy when crushed with a spoon. Can semi-liquidise the finished product if you wish. Should be loose, but not soupy. Is eaten with rice or roti (flatbreads).

        ANGEL JADE’S LIVER PILAF;
        2 cups of rice
        1 calf liver or two lamb livers
        1 carrot sliced (if the pet will eat it – use other vegs if they like – Jade loved broccoli!)
        4 cups of water
        1 tablespoon oil
        saute the veges in the oil for a couple of minutes, then add the diced liver to brown. Once evenly coloured add the rice and water; bring to boil, then cover with lid, firmly, and keep at low heat to slow simmer/steam. Rice should absorb all water but still be a little sticky. Can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.

        Aur Khanna! Yxx

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thank you so much for the recipes. Unfortunately, I can’t give them the liver pilaf because there is too much simple starch with the rice. Those carbs change the stomach acid, and they would no longer have the acidic stomach that processes the raw bones. This raw feeding is a tricky thing!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hari Om
            Not if you use unhulled rice (‘brown’) – alternatively, barley can be used. I combined this with raw food diet for Jade with no problems… though of course one must work with one’s individual pet’s needs – best wishes with it all! Yxx

            Liked by 2 people

  4. My daughter is dealing with oral cancer with her Scottie. It came up all of a sudden. He has had radiation, biopsies, surgeries, and vaccines for cancer. We are hoping for the best,but I am more realistic than her.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for all this good information. I wrote The Book of Barkley after I lost both my beloved brother and my black Lab Barkley at the same time to sudden aggressive cancers. I am feeding Abby the rescue raw with kibble as a “treat” (seriously, she will go right into her crate for ONE kibble) The rescue folks said she is twelve but she acts like a dog 5-6 years younger.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Please excuse me while I vent.
    So far I’ve been bladder cancer free for 7 years however my Dr went to the Mayo Clinic 3 years ago and I haven’t been able to find a Dr in 3 years that will do the Exam. I am now 2 years late for a Colonoscopy because the Doctors have determined that I am a high risk ! Excuse me but they have removed 15 polyps in the last 8 years, my sister is now wearing the bag and if Katy Couric can have her exam wide awake on National TV why can’t I. Have they never heard of lidocaine and ferric sulfate???????? Cancer keeps these doctors in their fancy houses and cars. They don’t care how people feel or how scared they are knowing the other shoe is about to drop. If I sound bitter and scared…….I am.
    Luckily for my dogs I have been able to find some of the best Dr’s in Ga and so far I have only had 2 dogs with cancer in over 40 years. Motion had a mammary gland removed and at 14 years had surgery for a lesion on her leg. She passed when she was 16 years and 2 months old. Tassy was diagnosed with melanoma when she was only 7 years old and passed in just 6 months,While I have always been aware of Cancer, I never thought about it until It finally came into my family and friends lives.It is a terrible and cruel disease that takes the young and the old. My wish for next year is that billions of dollars will be spent for research and cures and not on walls and wars.
    Toni

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We lost two to cancer (Kenzie the Westie to liver cancer and Kyla the Scottie to melanoma). Our present dogs have been trained to eat organic raw veggies with every meal. That should increase their vitamin intake along with other good stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have heard of people cooking their own food but not the raw. it makes sense, since dogs used to live in the wild and feed themselves. you have certainly been hit hard with cancer in your dogs and family. my best friend, and my aunt my 2nd mom, died from it, another friend is now dying from it and my brother is a 2 year survivor now.. thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. H Sandra. As hard as this was to write, I felt that cancer awareness month was a good time to explain my unconventional choices for my dogs. You, also, have lost too many loved ones to cancer, and I feel your pain.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My aunt died from Melanoma in 1984, no treatment then, my hubby had it 18 months ago, his is gone, we hope. I lost my mother and her sister to diabetes which is a horrible disease as bad as cancer with millions with it. daddy went with parkinsons and dementia. so many horrid disease, and our Jake that died 2 months ago had canine dementia, my friend lost her dog yesterday to canine dementia.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Sometimes it can be so hard to know what’s best. We also go to a holistic vet and get titers – if we need the shot, we get it. But not unless we NEED it (except for rabies becuz it’s da law). We don’t feed raw (Brinley and Finley’s momma wuz a meat inspector and we know TOO much about raw meat), but da mommas are thinking of starting to cook all of our food themselves (dey already do that some).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Homemade, no matter what the form, is better than any dog food you can buy, and you always know what is in it. Be sure to source good quality meat, and I would suggest reading everything on feeding raw to get the right proportions and nutrients, even when you cook the meat. dogsnaturallymagazine.com is a great source.

      Liked by 1 person

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