Help Your Dog Fight Cancer


Writing these books for you was a labor of love. My objective is to tell you everything you need to know, so you can become your best friend’s best advocate! There is a lot of information for you on this site. If you want more in depth information, buy the book or schedule a consult.

My book So Easy to Love, So Hard to Lose, is a book that every pet owner should have stashed away, for “some day” when you will need it. When that day comes, you will not want to go searching for a book that might help you. It’s also a great gift for anyone you know who has lost a pet.

The downloads page offers free information sheets that will help you. And you can download Chapters of the Help Your Dog Fight Cancer book on the Downloads page, if you don’t need the whole book.

I donate proceeds from my books and consults to the Magic Bullet Fund.

Help Your Dog Fight Cancer: Empowerment for Dog Owners

ISBN 97809754794-38    258 pages 

Do you want to be more proactive, more involved, in your dog’s cancer treatment?

Some people let their vet make all of the  decisions. They don’t understand much about canine cancer, or what can be done about it, and they may not want to.

But your veterinarian does not live with your dog. They don’t know your personal feelings about your dog or about cancer treatment. They don’t know much about your finances.

Remember: Your dog, your money, your decisions!

If you want to participate in making decisions for your dog, read my book. Help Your Dog Fight Cancer, will help you do that. The subtitle, Empowerment for Dog Owners, describes exactly what the book does. 

Books written by owners of dogs with cancer tell emotional stories of their dogs’ journey. They will validate the feelings you may have through the ups and downs – the roller coaster – that many of us experience.

Books written by veterinarians will educate you about canine cancer  or pet cancer treatment, from a vet’s point of view. 

Help Your Dog Fight Cancer is different. It is written by a medical animal writer after a great deal of research and tons of experience, helping almost 900 dogs fight cancer. 

This book will provide you with everything you need to make good decisions, and become an informed advocate for your dog. It will take away your stress and help you become your best friend’s best advocate through cancer treatment.

On this page you can read the Preface to the book and the look through the Table of Contents. Then, decide if this book will be as helpful to you and your dog as the other readers say it is for them.

 

About Canine Cancer

Causes and Prevention
Early Detection
Lymph Node Locations

Most Common Types

Tumors
Bone Cancers
Cancers of the Blood
Multiple Cancers

First Decisions

What Tests are Needed?
Your Dog’s Cancer Team
Find a Treatment Plan
When Should Treatment Begin?
Could it be a Misdiagnosis?

Your Dog Has Cancer…Now What?

Should Your Dog Have Treatment? Don’t Believe Everything You Read Don’t Believe Everything You Hear Don’t Believe “It’s Just a Dog” Keep a Journal

Surgery

Curative vs. Palliative Amputation
Surgery
Pain Control

Radiation Therapy

Lacy’s story
Curative vs. Palliative
Types of Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy

Traditional Chemotherapy
How Much is Enough?
Intralesional Chemotherapy
Electrochemotherapy
Medical Cautions
Treatment Failure
Chemo Costs

Side Effects to Cancer and to Treatment

Paraneoplastic Syndromes
Surgery Side Effects
Radiation Side Effects
Chemo (drug-specific)
Chemo (other)
Don’t Panic!

New & Alternative Treatments

Comparative Oncology
Immunotherapy
Vaccine Therapies
BMT for Lymphoma
Other Treatments & Therapies
Alternative Therapies
Clinical Trials

What’s Your Dog Eating? 

About Diet and Cancer
Bullet’s Cancer Diet
Water
Don’t Forget the Treats
Frozen Fishies!

What Else Can You Do?

Don’t Blow a Fuse!
Vitamins and Minerals
Supplements
Organ Support
Bullet’s Supplements

Whole Health Issues

First-Aid Kit
From Warrior to Angel
When Pawspice Begins
When Pawspice Ends
After the Loss

Bullet’s Story 

Appendices

Search the Internet
Join a Support Group!
Vaccination Waiver
Early Warning Signs
Chemotherapy Protocols
Chemotherapy Drugs
Schools of Vet Medicine
Quality of Life Scale
Reading List
Index

About half of our dogs will have cancer in their lifetimes, yet most dog owners know little or nothing about caring for a dog with cancer. Not long ago, admittedly, there wasn’t much to know. Today, however, treatment for canine cancer is nearly on par with treatment for human cancer, and there is a great deal to know.

If your dog has cancer, you’re undoubtedly asking, “What can I do?” First, you will decide on a medical plan and put it into action. There are many considerations to take into account when choosing a plan, such as which diagnostic tests to allow, which veterinarian(s) to enlist, and which treatment you want your dog to have. There are almost always several treatments available, even when a veterinarian presents only one. This book will help you obtain information you were not given, and help you make the important decisions.

After you decide on a medical plan, you’ll ask, “What else can I do?” The answer is, Lots! Regardless of what type of medical treatment you decide your dog should have (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, an alternative therapy, or no treatment at all), there is a great deal more that you can do. You’ll manage symptoms and side effects, and revise the treatment plan if necessary. You’ll strengthen your dog’s organs, and bolster his immune system. You’ll help your dog better fight the disease and better tolerate the treatment, to improve his odds for survival.

When Bullet was diagnosed with lymphoma, I wanted to know what typically happens before, during, and after canine cancer treatment, and what else might happen that is not typical. I wanted to know what I should, shouldn’t, could, and might do to help my dog survive. I wanted to know all of this right away, in plain English and without any. I wanted what you are reading right now, I wanted this book!

My experience as an animal writer and medical editor enabled me to delve into volumes of medical literature undaunted by medical lingo. My mission was to become the best advocate I could for Bullet. I also consulted with general practice veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, holistic vets, oncologists in human medicine, and other owners of dogs with cancer. I researched treatment options, pharmaceuticals, supplements, nutraceuticals, diets, alternative treatments, and clinical trials. To find Bullet’s home care regimen, I experimented extensively to find out what worked best.

What I discovered was that the more information I gathered and the more I understood about Bullet’s condition, the more capable I felt of caring for him properly, and the more my anxiety diminished. This was my path to becoming the best advocate for my best friend. Now, I will help you become the best advocate for your dog. As you read, and your knowledge about canine cancer grows, your anxiety will wane. You will become a confident and competent advocate for your dog.

Paolo Porzio, DVM, who administered Bullet’s chemotherapy, urged me repeatedly to write a book that would help other owners of dogs with cancer become knowledgeable and confident advocates. After a year, I resigned my position as editor of Catnip, a publication of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and set about writing the first edition of this book.

The information in this book was culled from reliable sources, including peer-reviewed veterinary publications and journals, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary school web sites, or is based on my own experiences helping Bullet and more than 400 Magic Bullet Fund dogs fight cancer. Through the Fund and in private consultations, I have helped hundreds of owners begin the bittersweet journey of living with and caring for a dog with cancer.

I launched the Magic Bullet Fund in conjunction with the publication of the first edition of this book, in 2004. I founded the Fund to offer financial assistance to people who have a dog with cancer but cannot afford treatment fees. As of October 2015, the Fund has helped almost 900 [updated] families provide cancer treatment for their dogs and cats. For many families, treatment is available but the costs are prohibitive. How terrible it must be to know that your dog would have a chance to survive if only you could afford treatment.

Cancer survival may be a miracle, but for the families in the Magic Bullet Fund, just being able to see their dogs receive treatment is the real miracle. You can see the dogs and their families at themagicbulletfund.org.

All owners are initially overwhelmed, as was I, by the shocking news that their dog has cancer and by the prospect of losing their best friend. There are numerous ways to care for a dog with cancer. Each owner must choose the options that work best for the dog and the family.

This book will provide you with a solid foundation for your battle against canine cancer. You will come away from Help Your Dog Fight Cancer with confidence, prepared to begin the journey and to make informed decisions as your best friend’s best advocate. 

Cancer is a fierce enemy. To fight the good fight, we need all the ammunition we can get. Armed with information and love, you will discover the best possible way to care for your dog through the battle against cancer.

So Easy to Love, So Hard to Lose: A Bridge to Healing Before and After the Loss of a Pet

ISBN 97809754794-14    112 pages, spiral bound

When we bring a new pet into our home, we always hope that he will have a long, happy and healthy life. No matter how long it might be, unfortunately, our dogs do not live long enough! At some point, we know that we will have to deal with the loss.

Whenever that time comes, this book will help you move through the stages of grief gracefully and comfortably. You will pay tribute to and honor your pet. Loss brings sadness, this cannot be avoided. Experiencing that sadness with the guidance of this book will make it less painful and show you that your pain is, in itself, your “Bridge to Healing.”

You will come to see that your sadness as an expression of your love for your pet.

If you have a pet, get this book now. It can sit waiting for a long time – for years – until you need it. And when you need it, it will be there waiting.

Keep a copy of “So Easy to Love” in reserve, so you can send it to a friend who has lost a pet.

If you breeze through the pages  of this book without bothering to write any answers, you will not be giving my book a chance to be helpful!

It’s important to go through this book slowly. Read about 2 pages a day. You will need time between sections for your brain and your heart to absorb the content. 

Please write in your answers to the questions. Simply writing down the words will keep those words in your head for longer than a second.

And they will be a record of your journey when you get to the end of the book. 

Foreword
Author’s Note

SO EASY TO LOVE

The Magical Bond
Embrace the Final Days
End of Life Care

SO HARD TO LOSE

After the Loss
Is it True?
No Regrets
The Emotional Roller Coaster
You’re Not Alone
A Bridge to Healing

Appendices

My Grief Journey
Resources
Pet Loss Support Hotlines
Quality of Life Scale
Reading List
Favorite Poems

The loss of a beloved pet is devastating. Can the pain and sadness of pet loss grief be eased by a book? I hope so! My objective is to not write a book that will sit on a shelf with a collection of other such books, as evidence that someone looked for help but didn’t find it.

Remember the saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination”? Prepare to take a journey. I will be your guide. The journey may not be as much fun as a trip to Tahiti, but it will be meaningful, enriching and well worth taking.

This book will help you integrate into your life the experience of loving and losing a pet, without pushing grief away or avoiding it and without neglecting to recognize the real purpose of grief as an opportunity to pay tribute to your pet. This book will show you how to experience the grief journey in a meaningful, positive way, pay tribute to your pet and find the bridge to healing.

Do you want your sadness to vanish so you can feel better right now? If so, you are reading the wrong book! Losing any loved one is painful. That pain is cathartic, healthy and appropriate. It’s a tribute. It may be possible to sidestep grief, sweep the emotional turmoil under the rug and feel better. Instead, I would like you to take the journey, pay tribute to your pet and turn your grief back into love. I offer something much more valuable than simply making your sadness go away. I will help you see that while grief hurts, it is also a rite of passage that allows you to pay proper tribute to your pet and help you through your loss in a way that you will value for the rest of your life. Your grief journey is actually the bittersweet last chapter in the long, wonderful story of you and your pet.

This book is a tool to help you on the journey from loss to legacy. It will help you move from despair, anger and unbearable sorrow to a new understanding of the loss as the price we pay for the amazing privilege of experiencing the magical person-pet bond. The final destination of your journey will be an appreciation of the love you had and the memories you will always have. While reading this book and writing your personal answers to the questions, your sadness will lift. You will feel stronger and less alone. Your grief will become less sad, painful and difficult. It will become an expression of love for your pet.

♥ BULLET

From September 19, 1992 until November 20, 2004, I shared my life with a remarkable Siberian Husky. I found Bullet at my local SPCA when he was 18 months old. His previous caretaker had relinquished him as pay back for running away too many times. I was entranced and intrigued by this dog’s beauty. I was mesmerized by his stare and I was compelled to take him home. Like Bullet’s previous owner, I was confounded by the Siberian’s favorite game—escape and run. I lost track of how many times I frantically chased him down streets, through woods, over hill and dale, while he had the time of his life watching me try to catch him. As luck—or destiny—would have it, Bullet and I developed a strong and beautiful bond. He became an integral and essential part of my life.

I remained entranced and intrigued for the 12 years, 2 months and 1 day that Bullet graced my life.

In July, 2000, when Bullet was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a terminal cancer. I thought I would lose Bullet to cancer. The hoped-for survival for dogs with lymphoma who have chemotherapy is 12 to 18 months, but the Universe smiled on us. Bullet was in a very small percentage of dogs to survive the disease. With chemotherapy, a special homemade diet and a home care regimen that I designed, Bullet lived out his natural life in remission from lymphoma. He survived four years and four months after his diagnosis and was still in remission at the end.

In 2002, Bullet developed a heart condition. The prognosis was 6 months at the outside, but Bullet survived five episodes of congestive heart failure over the next two years. His veterinarians gave him a new nickname—the Magic Bullet. Now, I expected to lose him to heart disease rather than to cancer.

In 2004, at the urging of Bullet’s oncologist, I released the book, Help Your Dog Fight Cancer to help others fight cancer for their dogs as I fought cancer for Bullet. That book has helped more than 20,000 families and their dogs. That same year, I founded the Magic Bullet Fund, to finance cancer treatment for dogs whose owners could not afford it. For dogs in the Fund, I raise funding to pay for cancer treatments, educate owners about canine cancer and help them make decisions about treatment, side effect remedies and home care. The Magic Bullet Fund has helped almost 900 [updated] dogs and cats fight cancer so far.

And I continued to take care of my own Magic Bullet, my cancer and heart disease survivor, always aware that I might lose him at any time but enjoying every moment he was still with me.

♥ BRUNO

In July of 2000, I brought Bullet to a veterinary clinic for his first chemotherapy treatment. A woman was at the front desk, waiting to settle her bill. After Bullet was taken back for his chemo treatment, the woman caught my eye. She removed a photo album from her purse and showed me pictures of her dog.

The woman proceeded to flip through the album, page by page. ”Here’s Bruno just after he died…. Here he is from another view…. This is Bruno an hour later, after I combed his coat, Bruno with his favorite toys arranged around him, Bruno at the crematorium….” Here is a photo of my shrine for Bruno. Then she told me that Bruno had died several years ago.

At that moment, my sympathy turned to dismay. I thought about the woman long after I left the clinic. Her grief for Bruno had become a gaping wound that remained open for years. Her grief haunted me. I searched the faces of strangers and friends. I wondered who they might have lost and what grief they might be carrying, just below the surface. Were they holding back grief poised to explode at any remote reminder, or was it carefully and deeply buried where it would fester but never be acknowledged or examined?

♥ BULLET’S LEGACY

On November 20, 2004, it was my turn to grieve. At nearly 14 years old, cancer free, Bullet died in my arms. I began to revive him, but stopped. I realized later that Bullet had had a perfect death. If I had revived him, it wouldn’t have been for long and a second death would most likely not have been as perfect.

Through the Magic Bullet Fund, I witness the person-pet bond every day. Upon learning their dog has a terminal disease, owners are shocked and desperate to help their pets survive. We discuss their fears about losing their pet and their profound devotion. When a dog does well in treatment, owners are grateful and optimistic. When a dog doesn’t do well, while owners prepare for the loss, I continue to provide support and guidance. When their cancer-fighting journey is over, their grief journey begins.

Each loss is heart-wrenching, but the magic of the bond is so strong, beautiful and enduring that I know I am lucky to be in its glow every time we lose a Magic Bullet Fund dog. Now, 5 years since Bullet passed, I still honor him every day by offering my book to people who are fighting canine cancer and in my work as administrator for the Magic Bullet Fund.

If had not written a book or founded a charity in his name, I wonder how I would then have honored Bullet. I know I would have found a way.

♥ YOUR PET’S LEGACY

Bruno’s mom and many others relive the grief every day. The text and questions on these pages will lead you through a new way to experience your grief—not by sweeping it under the rug, hiding it or toughing it out, but by embracing it and creating a tribute. Then, you will cherish the memory of your precious pet for the rest of your life.

We each need to find our own way through grief. As you find your way, you will become less focused on the sad end of your pet’s life and more focused on all of the wonderful days you had together. You will cherish the happy memories every day, and find peaceful joy in having had and lost a very special friend.