One Belly Rub at a Time
Jaguar 9th birthday
Jaguar (Jag), had his right front leg amputated last September due to soft tissue cancer and went thru Chemo. Well, I am glad to report that Jag is doing great!!!! He is the happiest tripod anyone has ever seen J
I am attempting to attach here a very special video (hope it works) and a picture. On his 9th birthday, we opened the pool and, honestly, our expectation was that Jag would sink but he needed to learn he could no longer swim…we would let him sink for a second and save him so he would no longer jump in later when we open the pool for the kids…we were very worried for his safety and had not opened the pool until that day not to harm him.
Well…guess what? JAG CAN SWIM!!!!
We are hoping to beat the odds and keep the cancer at bay for as long as possible. For now, he just completed his 1 year survival anniversary. I also want to thank you for the wonderful heart felt card you and your team sent us when we lost our Lucky on Feb 11 this year…I still cry and miss her terribly, but I know she did not suffer any more than she had to, she went peacefully, and I know she was ready and thankful.
For all you did for Lucky and Jag, from the bottom of our hearts… THANK YOU!
Love from the Lynch Family to you and all your team.
The Story of Pebbles Champion
Pebbles was discovered on the streets of Santa Ana in the summer of 1999. A family found her, but already had two other dogs. They overheard me one day at school say I wanted a dog…and yes I got the sweetest, most wonderful puppy you could imagine. When they found her she had a collar on with her name "Pebbles" in black marker, but no tags or chip.
I kept her name Pebbles because she had little "pebble marks" all over her body. She is part Chihuahua, rat terrier, Jack Russell, you name it, she is probably part of that. Anyway, my husband and I fell in love immediately. However, she did like to chew, and after all was said and done, she ate two pairs of shoes, ruined three doorway moldings, chewed through a dashboard, a floor mat, and the window stripping in a one month old car.
Good thing we still loved her after all that chewing and she was pretty lucky to find us because in 2006 she was diagnosed with mast cell cancer and it had metastasized to her lymph nodes. I won't tell you how much we spent that year, but I will just say she had a credit card with her name on it.
They gave her a year or so to live. My husband even went to the Health Food store and immediately put her on homeopathic medicine as well as the traditional chemo and radiation.
Well, four years later she was well and going strong…but then that darn cancer came back in Stage Two. VCG told us that she would probably live 3-5 years without treatment and she was 11 years old at this time. So no treatment was started. That is when I really knew I could trust VCG, because not only had my dear puppy lived 3 years past their diagnosis, but they didn't recommend treatment which means they could have received a few more thousand dollars, but chose to be conservative, compassionate, and dedicated to saving animals' lives and making them comfortable, rather than just making money.
Jump ahead to 2012, and now she has been diagnosed with oral melanoma. It is in Stage Three, but has not metastasized past the lymph nodes. She is a miracle dog. She has just completed radiation and is on a melanoma vaccine. Soon we will start oral chemo.
If you are reading this story, then you are an animal lover. I have loved every animal I have ever owned, but something special happened to me when Pebbles started living with us. I became a vegetarian because I didn't look at any animal the same again. I realized one of their purposes on earth was to comfort and enrich humans. I know I won't have her very many more years but I am cherishing every moment and every day she is in my life.
Thank you VCG for caring about her as much as I do. I will never forget all that you have done and the compassion you have shown to Pebbles and me.
Family veterinarian Dr. Elaine Wexler-Mitchell shared this first-hand account of her own cat's experience with cancer treatment. Shaka has been receiving care for the past 2 & 1/2 years, as detailed in this
I'd like to share my story with you. My name is Ricky and I am a cancer survivor. In 1994 I was born under a commercial building in Diamond Bar. When I was about six or seven weeks old, the woman who was to be my human Mom, was coming home late from a concert and saw my kitty mom run across the street from the 57 freeway. As it was so late, and she was surprised to see a kitty there, she went to investigate. She found me, along with my kitty mom and three siblings. There were no houses in the area so she knew that we didn't have anyplace to live. She tried to pick us up but my kitty mom hissed and wouldn't allow it. She came back the next day with this big box which humans call a 'cat trap'. She put a piece of meat in the trap and watched, but my kitty mommy was real smart and able to put her front paw over the spring that closed the trap to retrieve the meat. She came back the next day and outsmarted my fur mommy with a piece of tuna! My fur mommy didn't thrash in the box, she just meowed. Mom went under the edge of the building to rescue our whole family, but sadly, only three of us were still alive - my sister, who later was named Lucy, my kitty mom, who was named "Mom", and myself. Sadly, they have my feline relatives have both passed on - Lucy in 2004 and "Mom" in 2008.
In 2006, I was diagnosed with mast cell cancer on my face and in my liver and spleen. My doctor told my Mom it was a fast-spreading cancer and that I probably wouldn't live very much longer. Mom took me to see the wonderful people at the Veterinary Cancer Group to see if they could help. I was given radiation every day for a while and then wound up taking a chemo pill every day for four years! I astounded everyone by doing so well that l was soon known as a "miracle kitty".
In December 2010, the docs worried my spleen felt large, so they did an ultrasound and found that cancer had returned to my spleen. Dr. Julie Bulman-Fleming told Mom that removing my spleen would be advised but that there were some risks involved, as I was 16 years old. My blood work and chest x-rays, however, looked very good so Mom took me to for surgery. Dr. Sebestyen removed my spleen but said that I had a nodule attached to my intestine so they cut it off and sent it off for examination. My mom later got a phone call from Dr. Julie and the news was great! The nodule was not cancer and my liver looked great, so once again, I was cancer-free!
My family is profoundly thankful to the wonderful Drs. Blake, Dutelle (who always called me 'Mr. Man') and Bulman-Fleming (who always asks me at the end of an exam if I want to go back into my 'mouse house'), who have enabled me to live a normal, active, happy life. Everyone at the VCG always tells me how much they love me and what a good patient I am. I think it's because I purr through every exam or procedure they give me. I love all my extended family at the Veterinary Cancer Group! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
(with a bit of help from Mom Judy, & her computer!)
You have GOT to check out LuLu's BlogSpot! Lulu is a courageous Cocker Spaniel who just happens to have a Mom who was given the gift of writing. LuLu was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive Mast Cell Tumor and began treatment in June 2010. After a full course of Radiation Therapy, LuLu began Chemotherapy. While her beautiful face initially had to 'get a bit worse before it got better', from the looks of LuLu in her Halloween costume this month, I'd say she looks ready to strut her stuff again. You Go LuLu! We wish you all the best & we thank your Mom for showing so many others that there is hope for so many of these serious cancers.
July 7, 2010
Tessa was 2-years-old and a little thing, just barely 20-inches at the withers, but she was a whopping 70 pounds. We got her weight down to around 50 pounds, and suddenly we found a jumper. We got her in a pool and her DockDogs career was born. She was a natural. We took her to events in California and Oregon and it seemed she got a personal best every time she jumped.
Fast forward two years. One day before the DockDogs Las Vegas Shot Show, we were doing some jumping training in the backyard, and she accidentally hit her head and jaw. I opened her mouth and found she was bleeding from a bump right behind one of her teeth on the left side of her mouth. The vet said to keep an eye on it.
At the Shot Show, Tessa had the best performance she'd ever had. She finished first in her division in every single wave, and she even finished first in Speed Retrieve! We celebrated her birthday the day after the event, and after she finished her birthday cookie, I decided to check her mouth again.
The bump had turned red, angry and swollen.
She had surgery to remove the lump five days later. And then the results came in on Valentine's Day, of all days. It was squamous cell carcinoma.
She immediately began radiation. The treatments were every day, Monday through Friday, for four weeks. It seemed to drag on forever. She lost weight; she developed a urinary tract infection; some days she was tired. Because the tumor was in her mouth, the radiation caused the fur on her chin to fall off, and the skin was blistering. The vet techs were concerned about her anxiety level because she was jumping all over the place… until I told them she was a DockDog and that's just what she does.
Tessa's oncologist said that because squamous cell carcinoma doesn't metastasize, chemotherapy wasn't necessary. The survivability rate is pretty good, with there being a 60% chance the cancer will not return. That's a better chance than I had with Kadin.
She was placed on two medications to boost her immune system: Eicosa-Derm, which is a highly-concentrated, high-powered fish oil; and ImmunoSupport, which is a immune system booster made of shiitake mushrooms. Every two months, Tessa went in for a re-check, which included a physical exam, chest x-rays and blood and urine draws.
She returned to the pool two weeks after radiation and that amazing little girl jumped a personal best! She didn't lose a step. And, the skin on her chin finally healed, and the fur has grown back… but it's white! I can honestly say I've added my own share of white hairs throughout this ordeal, too.
Reaching the one year mark from the time of diagnosis was a big milestone. Tessa's oncologist says she looks fantastic, and believes she will be fine in the long run. Now she goes in every three months, and when she hits the two year mark, her re-checks will be every six months.
We don't know how Tessa contracted squamous cell carcinoma, but we do know it's survivable. In fact, it's one of the more common, but thankfully, less aggressive cancers. But the credit goes to my little girl. Her determination is like none I've ever seen. And to think at the Shot Show, she was jumping while she was sick with cancer. But she never showed it. She's pretty amazing!
Doctor Mona Rosenberg, DVM:
This email is to send your personnel many thanks for their kindness my pet and I have been receiving when we visit the Tustin office. Technicians, the people at the front desk, doctors, all of them deserve an A+.
A note of special thanks for Doctor Sara Fiocchi (she is Bally's doctor) for her high profesionalism, care, and willingness to provide any assistance and clarify any doubts we could have had. During our second visit, I had three (3) pages of questions which I had written prior to the visit as well as several labels corresponding to the different types of food Bally was eating. Doctor Fiocci not only listened very carefully but also answer each and every question in detail with an extremely caring and patient attitude which I will not forget and did not want to go unnoticed. She also examined the food labels and provided advice.
Thank you very much.
Bally and Anibal Scheinker
Dr. Rosenberg, this is Judy, Buddie's mom. Because your time is so precious during the day, I didn't want to keep you as long as it would take to tell you something important. I wanted to find the words that could convey as accurately as possible what you need to know. So please pardon that this is coming to you in an email rather than in person.
First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for doing what you do. I know I can't keep my Buddie forever but you have given us so much more time together than I ever thought we could have. Her quality of life is so wonderful right now. She is playful, anticipatory, always ready to play, be brushed, or just sit with. In short, she's like a puppy. I found her when she was full grown (abandoned while pregnant) and she ended up having 13 puppies (it took nine months to place every one of them in fabulous homes, and $40,000 to redo our backyard when it was all said and done). I never had the chance to see what she would be like if she were unburdened with pregnancy, arthritis, or any other diseases older dogs get. Until now. However long we can keep her going like this is a gift from God through you. The words to describe my gratitude have yet to be invented.
There is another reason for my wanting to write to you. I want you to know what goes on in your office when you aren't looking. I don't know where you found these people, and in truth, I didn't even think there were enough people like these to actually staff a large clinic like yours, but your staff has got to be the greatest group of people ever put together for a mission of love. They are not only professional to a fault, but so accommodating, so attentive, and so willing to go to do their utmost to make the owners feel like they will never fall through the cracks. As an owner I receive as much love by these people as my Buddie does. Your staff deserves the highest praise and commendation for being so much more than people doing a job.
I have also noticed how much your office tries to keep the price affordable whether it's by donating meds, or whatever, but you have made me feel like you would never abandon Buddie because of the price. I am so blessed to be able to afford the medical care for her, and your staff has given me venues to see if there is an organization who could help with the costs, but it is so clear to me that you don't try to squeeze your clients out of every last nickel (which could easily be done when it comes to the love of animals). Your heart is in the right place and it has not gone unnoticed.
It is a very difficult thing to have to get Buddie in the car, leaving Wolfie (one of her puppies whom we kept and has never been away from his mother) to literally scream when Buddie is taken for a few hours. He has a baby sitter whenever we go, but he still cries the entire time she's gone. It makes it even more difficult when I think of where we are going and why. But I actually look forward to taking her now. She loves the car ride, I love the time with her, and your staff has made this just about the easiest thing to do. I was NEVER able to take her or Wolfie to the vet or even for their grooming because it's too much for me. My poor husband has had that job since Buddie arrived. Now I take her alone and actually look forward to it. KUDOS to you and your exceptional staff!!
Each and every one of them deserves so much for this because what they do is HUGE. I think if I tried to tell you in person, I wouldn't get passed the first sentence without tearing up. I love each and every one of you for the miracles, the love, the acceptance and attention both Buddie and I receive when we walk through your doors.
With heartfelt appreciation, I remain yours truly,
Judy and Buddie, of course
My beautiful Destiny was diagnosed with lymphoma on September 29,2005. We began chemotherapy the following week with Dr. Mary Davis at VCG in Culver City. Destiny has been in complete remission now for more than three years and completed chemotherapy on March 21, 2006. I can't tell you how grateful we are~not just for such wonderful results but for having such a kind, caring, compassionate oncologist. Destiny is my miracle...and my heart!
Editor's Note: Destiny's most recent visit to our Los Angeles office was in late 2011. She was proudly wagging her tail, jolly and full of energy. You go Destiny!!! We'll see you soon.
Addendum, February 2012: It with great sadness that our staff to has to bid Destiny farewell as she has crossed over to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge just a short time ago.
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