The dreaded “c” word. If your beloved furry friend has received this diagnosis, I can only offer my deepest sympathy. When Mr. Fluffy was diagnosed with subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma in his neck, I mentally shut down. I was completely blind-sided. I had thought he would be with me for years, and I had thought that if he were to develop cancer, it would be gastrointestinal due to the lousy food I’d fed in the beginning.
Every case is different, because every pet is different. Only you will know what’s best for your pet in terms of treatment. I could have put my boy through chemo and/or radiation, but he would have had to travel an hour away for the chemo (one way), and significantly more than that for the radiation. He would get very stressed when he traveled, and those treatments would have given him a 50/50 chance of slowing down the cancer enough to give him a few more months. I couldn’t put him through the stress, which depresses the immune system, and then there were the side effects to consider. Surgery was not an option due to the size and location of the tumor, and this particular cancer has a nasty tendency to come back even with surgery.
If the cancer has been diagnosed fairly early, in addition to traditional treatments, you can consider contacting a holistic vet. Some will do phone consults. By the time my boy was diagnosed, he was given 1-2 months, and I didn’t think there was enough time for anything to make a significant difference, but if I had caught it earlier, I might have contacted a holistic vet to see if Essiac tea would have helped (assuming my cat would have taken it willingly and tolerated it), homeopathic remedies, or Transfer Factor to build the immune system.
Another option is to test for an endocrine-immune imbalance. Had I remembered Dr. Plechner’s book when Mr. Fluffy was diagnosed, I would have tested him. To my regret, I didn’t look at it until months after he was gone.
Dr. Plechner found this imbalance in every pet that had cancer. “Hormonal imbalances starting in the adrenal gland with cortisol set off a harmful sequence of internal disturbances in the body. The falling dominos reach the immune system, and it too falls, and fails to contain abnormally mutating weak cancer cells from growing rapidly.”1
He used his protocol to extend the lives of animals with advanced cancer and improve their quality of life. He also found that “if surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are indicated, as they often are, the hormone replacement therapy can be extremely supportive, and, in fact, may even ensure the success of those treatments.”2 “Whether early or advanced cancer, the patient acquires a powerful self-healing tool by repairing the endocrine-immune mechanism.”3
In one case, he treated 3 dogs, “all out of the same breeding” that were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen, and whose spleens had ruptured and been removed. They were tested, found to have the imbalance, and put on Dr. Plechner’s protocol. As of the publishing of his book, all three were still doing well four years later. “Usually, animals die within six months after the spleen is removed.”4
In another case, a 6 year-old cat was diagnosed with a large mammary carcinoma. The tumor was removed, but the vet wasn’t optimistic about the cat’s chances of survival. The owner brought the feline to Dr. Plechner, who tested for and found the imbalance. The cat was placed on Dr. Plechner’s program and “the therapy was able to stretch a few weeks of expected survival time into more than ten years so far.”5
“The program will often prevent cancer from recurring or spreading. It does this by bringing order back to a weakened, chaotic immune system.”6
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, even one as aggressive as hemangiosarcoma, it might be worthwhile to have your pet tested and treated for this imbalance.
You can Google search “questions to ask your vet when your pet is diagnosed with cancer.“ I found a site that gives some good questions to ask your vet when your pet is diagnosed. There is additional good information in the “Cancer Care” section as well:
Cancer is the one thing that kind of blows my theory that what applies to humans, in terms of health and nutrition, also applies to pets. I remember seeing Dr. Perlmutter on PBS stating that our diet controls our health more than our DNA, and in fact, can control our DNA by turning on certain genes or turning them off. I had thought this could also apply to our pets, but after Mr. Fluffy was diagnosed with cancer, I just don’t know. Maybe there is a genetic component, or maybe there were toxins in his environment that I just couldn’t control, that eventually became too much for him.
Sugar feeds cancer, and grains are converted to sugar in the body. My boy was already on a grain-free diet, and had been for several years when he was diagnosed. So other than going all raw, which I would have done in the first place if sourcing hadn’t been an issue, there really wasn’t much else I could do except keep him comfortable and give him a good quality of life for as long as possible.
What I think does apply to both humans and pets is that the immune system must be strong. I had given Mr. Fluffy a probiotic for years, which is helpful, but his diet wasn’t balanced (no bones or organs), and that may have weakened his immune system enough for the cancer to take hold. I also think that the stress of his dental, which took place 3 months before I noticed something was going on, also allowed the cancer to take hold. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take care of your pet’s teeth; it’s just what I think happened in my boy’s case. Had his immune system been stronger, I don’t think the cancer would have been able to manifest.
I will tell you this: it’s an emotional roller coaster. No one told me there would be “off” days, and the first few times it happened, it scared me because I had no way of knowing if it was “the beginning of the end” or “just” an “off” day. This is where the food log can come in handy, as you can also record what you observe, e.g. how active your pet was that day. At the top of the page, I would have a note indicating if it was a “good, ok, or off” day. You will be the best judge of what those terms mean for your pet. But if you see a pattern where there are a lot of “off” days, that might be a sign that you need to prepare to send your beloved friend to the Rainbow Bridge.
In my opinion, the priority is to keep the pet eating, as much as possible. The cancer will use some of the food, so I don’t think it’s wrong to feed even more than usual. There are sites out there that can give better advice, but definitely go grain-free if you can and haven’t already. However, if your pet just won’t eat anything else, go with what they’ll eat. They need the food to keep their strength and energy up. If you’re feeding dry, you may want to add some home-cooked chicken or another protein to their kibble, just to give them more protein. The white blood cells (and red blood cells) are made of protein.
Do the best you can, keep them comfortable, and when the time comes, remember that you will be with your beloved friend again someday. Those we love are always with us.
“Healing is not always eternal life . . . Healing is sometimes helping people [or pets] have a good death. There is some kind of healing in that, too.”
-- Suzanne Cole, MD from PBS’s special, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, Part 3 - Finding the Achilles Heel”
1 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 36
2 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 37
3 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 37
4 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 131
5 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 145
6 Plechner A Pets at Risk 2003; 145
Mr. Fluffy napping