Just home after an incredibly inspiring seminar led by Dr. Sue Armstrong and Dr. Don Hamilton. We are a small group of 15 veterinary homeopaths that have met a number of times over the past few years at the San Geronimo lodge in Taos, New Mexico, to study the treatment of cancer with homeopathy and supportive care in animals. Dr. Sue leads the way with her experience in treating cats, dogs, horses and people. She takes us through the science and the conventional approaches, to make sure we’re up to date, and then she leads us through nutrition, supplements, organ supports, and the various approaches to the different forms of cancer. We learn from her cases and from each others’ cases. Perhaps we learn the most from our struggles.
I had the opportunity to present a difficult case that I was working through and I had just the one. Julen is a 13 year old black and white kitty who is lucky to be in home with 2 wonderfully dedicated women who take superb care of him. Julen has not been doing well since about March, and since then has had periods of severe pancreatitis, fluid in his abdomen, numerous visits to the emergency clinic, a few ultrasounds and finally an exploratory surgery this past month. It did not look good in there. Although we did not biopsy, our assumption at this point is that Julen has metastatic cancer somewhere in his abdomen, possibly affecting his pancreas and stomach. The surgeon suggested that perhaps we let Julen go on the table, but I felt that Julen had some will to live left, so we sewed him up and sent him home. He recovered from surgery better than I expected and within not too long started acting like his normal self again.
Presenting his case was a bit of an exercise in humility, but it was one of the best learning experiences that I could have hoped for. We split into groups and then came back with suggestions from each group. The suggestions included organ support, nutritional support and homeopathic remedies.
I emailed the clients right away and we got Julen on some probiotics, alfalfa, dandelion and goldenseal, marshmellow tea and slippery elm, digestive enzymes, B vitamins. A small remedy, leptandra, was suggested but it turns out that no one in Vancouver has it! Right now Julen is on Calc-sulph in low potency because he has some drainage from his incision, but stay tuned….
The lesson that I learn from these wonderful animals and that was supported by this group of wise, compassionate veterinarians, is that there is so much possibility for healing even when presented with a very bad disease.
I love palliative care. I don’t know how I would practice it without homeopathy and other alternative therapies, but I think just having an approach which respects and supports a creature’s energy of life, and then recognizes when it’s time to die and helps that transition happen with peace and dignity, is such an inspiration for my practice.
Another great example of this:
Charlie is a 15 year old border collie who I started seeing 1.5 years ago because he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Charlie had had some seizures and a brain tumor was diagnosed by MRI. He was started on prednisone and phenobarbital. He was having some hind end weakness when I saw him and had a history of diarrhea and skin allergies.
Charlie’s care giver started him on Essiac tea and we agreed that Iams dry kibble was not giving him the nutritional support that he would need at this stage in his life, so he was started on a home cooked diet. At this point we all agree that Charlie eats better than his family and his veterinarian!
We also treated Charlie with immunosupportive mushrooms and a regime of homeopathic remedies – mainly Calc carb and Carcinosin.
I didn’t see Charlie from Nov. 2010 until today and I almost thought Charlie must have a twin brother when he came to greet me. I swear he looks younger and better than ever. He is on lower doses of his meds, has had no seizures, his skin and joints are doing well, and he looks like a healthy 10 year old dog for his 15 years. His only problem on examination today was that his teeth were pretty darn dirty, so we hand scaled them. No one really enjoyed the sound of scraping, but Charlie was a champ and I left him with a pretty nice smile if I do say so myself.
I have to admit that I don’t know what has helped Charlie the most – the diet change, the mushrooms, the essiac, the homeopathy, the supportive conventional specialist…. but this is truly an integrative approach and the result has been pretty incredible. Apparently even the neurologist is surprised.