Diablo, with cutaneous hemangiosarcoma
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Diablo with cutaneous hemangiosarcoma : letter submitted by owner
In 1994, my father was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was advanced so alternative treatments, we were told by professionals, weren’t a realistic alternative. The best and brightest minds in oncology decided aggressive radiation would give my dad his best chance.
Two months later he was dead.
My family grieved and while I urged my lonely mom to get a pet, she wasn't ready. Nor was she ready the next year. Or the next. Five years went by until she decided it was time.
We visited a breeder who had five toy fox terrier puppies, all so bouncy they spent more time in the air than on the ground. Of the five, one loomed large and in charge, at a whopping 1.5 pounds. He was more wilful than the rest. He wasn't taking "no" for answer. He was coming home with us by HIS choice; we would have no say. And he would go almost two months in our care before being named because we desperately hoped he would outgrow the only name that felt appropriate. He didn’t. So that name stuck: Diablo.
He was 500 pounds of personality in a less-than 2 pound body. He was smart. He was fun. He was a devious prankster. He brought a smile back to our faces. He trained us well. He was, as the saying goes, just what the doctor ordered.
A year and a half later, that little handful, after destroying everything we’d come to discover we didn’t really care about in the house, had us on the road to feeling whole again.
But "Whole" would evade us.
Sadly, young Diablo, like my father, was diagnosed with cancer.
His prognosis was good as we'd caught it early. He was treated surgically, the cancer removed. We yet again hoped to move toward "Whole," though our hopes were more guarded this time.
Diablo’s reign grew. What was his was his and what was ours was, well, also his. He just had that effect on everyone and everything. At his adult weight of 18 pounds, he feared no man or beast. He was master of all he surveyed.
We were all were just hitting our stride together. Life was fun. It was good. We travelled. We vacationed. We hoped.
Until…A biopsy. A relapse.
Diablo, once again, was diagnosed with cancer.
We again went through another surgery and it appeared Diablo was going to be OK. The one large and in charge of our house was still the boss.
All was well in our world, but wellness wasn’t to last.
Yes, a third time, “Whole” would be just out of our grasp. Around the time Diablo turned 10 (And a spry and wily 10 he was), he was diagnosed with cancer yet again. This time it was a cancer of his blood vessels called canine cutaneous hemangiosarcoma, and this time it was bad. There were multiple tumors too wide-spread to operate; we feared we had revisited my father's fate. Diablo had had a good life but it appeared that it might sadly be coming to a premature end.
We were crushed. We were numb.
And we’d given up hope. There would be no “Hat Trick,” no “Third time’s a charm.” We would lose our friend.
And that’s when our integrative veterinarian proposed something so simple, so organic, so “Whole-listic,” that it bordered on radical. We were shocked.
He wanted to do less, not more. He wanted to work “WITH” Diablo, not “ON” him. He explained that he'd recently gone to New York to debunk a Veterinarian's claims that a new homeopathic voodoo cancer treatment was working wonders. In an unlikely twist of fate, he became a believer in the very treatment he’d travelled across the country to skewer.
And he believed that approach could work on Diablo. He couldn't promise a thing but it was a chance. He wanted to try simple, non-invasive, bi-weekly homeopathic injections along with supplements added to Diablo's food.
Me? I didn't believe in alternative therapy. I didn’t believe in homeopathy. I didn't believe in "Whole."
I believed in bad-beat hands. I believed the world had dealt my father one and was now dealing my dog one as well. I believed that cancer was a death sentence. Traditional medicine had educated me well. I’d gotten the memo.
It would appear, however, that my dog didn't get that memo.
True to form, Diablo once again proved that what I thought didn’t matter: It’s what he thought that counted. And it seemed he not only believed that our veterinarian's treatments worked, he got excited about bi-weekly visits to the vet. He jumped up and down in the car as we got near. When we were in the waiting room and they called his name, he excitedly walked himself back to the treatment area.
And he did that for almost four years with a disease that has an average survival time of 174 days.
In fact, he did it just today. And then we went for a walk. And I almost kept up with him. Almost.
He’ll be 14 this year.
He’s still in remission, still large, still in charge. He behaves like a two-year-old, a very smart two-year-old, likely because that's how he feels. He’s got more zip than I do, certainly more than either of us had five years ago. If we stop his homeopathic injections the tumors recur. If that is placebo it is surely tricky. Recently our doctor presented a series of seven of these cases at a national meeting. It's exciting. I surely hope that some people start doing research on this branch of medicine. From my experience it is sorely needed.
What felt like wishful thinking to me is simply reality to him. Once we stopped trying to run the show and went along with his program, we became whole again. Thank God Diablo’s the one making the really important decisions because they most certainly can’t be trusted to us.
This is just one of the amazing stories in the world of utilizing “holistic medicine”
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