Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alternative, Homeopathic Treatment for Hemangiosarcoma

As we close in on the 10 month, post-diagnosis anniversary, I thought I would post a few of my thoughts and observations concerning many of the issues we have encountered while dealing with Addie's hemangiosarcoma and give Denice a break at the same time.

First and foremost on my mind is our decision to use Neoplasene as the primary weapon in fighting this cancer. Neoplasene was developed and is sold strictly to veterinarians by Dr. Terrence Fox of Buck Mountain Botanicals in Miles City Montana. You can visit the company web site and learn more about Neoplasene by clicking HERE.
Neoplasene is currently considered a homeopathic, alternative treatment for hemangiosarcoma and is dismissed by some in traditional veterinary medicine as an option because of it's unproven status in treating this cancer. Frankly, it is working for Addie and that is all the proof I need of it's viability at this point in time.
First, a disclaimer of sorts: The attending veterinarian who monitored Addie's recovery after her emergency splenectomy and broke the news about the lab results confirming the hemangiosarcoma did tell us that a very small percentage of dogs do not succumb to hemangiosarcoma after a successful splenectomy . Therefore, there is a very slim chance that Addie has lived beyond the 2 months normally given to hemangiosarcoma patients due to being in that very small and fortunate group of dogs.
That being said, it should be understood that the odds of Addie being in that small group are probably non-existent. The reason I say this is because with the hindsight we gained after being educated about this type of cancer it was obvious that Addie had been experiencing internal bleeding in the weeks leading up to the splenectomy. Since hemangiosarcoma is a blood fed sarcoma it is virtually guaranteed that her chest and abdominal cavities were exposed to the cancer cells prior to the surgery. If we had found the problem with her spleen prior to any hemorrhaging I would be more inclined to think that the splenectomy had removed the cancer. This, however, was not the case.
In addition to this line of thought, Addie continues to have issues with anemia (cold paws, pale gums, etc...). This is an indication that there continues to be internal bleeding which is common with hemangiosarcoma patients. It is for these reasons I believe that Addie is, in fact, being saved by the administration of oral Neoplasene.
We have watched and heard of other dogs diagnosed with this cancer who have not been given the benefit of Neoplasene for one reason or another and have not been as fortunate as Addie. We are lucky that she tolerates the drug quite well and has not had any major gastrointestinal issues. Dogs who can not tolerate the drug or whose owners are not aware of, or not willing to spend the money on, or are unable to administer the drug properly are unfortunately left with little hope of survival. (We pay about $150 per month to treat Addie - she is a 70lb dog. Smaller dogs will consume less, larger dogs will consume more)
I am hopeful that the success of this drug in dogs will lead to useful application in humans. However, I have my doubts. As I understand it, drug companies can not patent drugs derived from naturally occurring sources. Neoplasene is such a drug. Without the guarantee of profit after spending the capital to develop a Neoplasene derived cancer treatment for humans it is unlikely that we will see any drug company willing to invest in such development.

The other issue that has come to the forefront is the diet we are now feeding. After researching hemangiosarcoma and learning about what constitutes a good diet for dogs with cancer we discovered that many of the so called "premium" dog foods are in fact laced with many chemicals that we would never have fed if we had been aware. It is estimated that nearly 3.5% of all dogs in the United States will contract hemangiosarcoma and die from it. I believe that there is good cause to believe that the foods source is a contributing factor. Dogs who are most predisposed to this cancer (German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, English Setters, and all dogs over 6 years of age) could probably benefit from a diet that does not consist of chemical laden food produced en-mass by the mega food companies. You can browse prior posts in this blog to learn about the type of 'human' food we now feed to Addie and the kibble we feed to both Addie and Shep (our German Shepherd mix) as well as the other supplements we give her (based upon the recommendations of our holistic veterinarian).
Make no mistake, Addie's diet mandates that we cook and store enough food to provide her with a cup of meat and a cup of green vegetables every day. This is a relatively expensive and time consuming proposition when compared to simply purchasing bags of pre-made food and pouring it into the bowl twice a day.

Owners with hemangiosarcoma patients must be willing to research and gain knowledge beyond that dispensed by typical veterinarians. Plus they must put in the time, energy, and money necessary to prolong the life of their animal. Without this commitment the outcome for the dog is probably not a good one.
We both remain hopeful that our course of action with Addie will remain successful. We know that the day will come when we will have to say goodbye to her. However, with a little luck and perseverance maybe we can delay that day by a few years.


Cowgirl said...

It is so nice to know that there are some dogs, not enough, that defy all the odds of this horrible disease. Addie is in that small, fortunate group and lucky for you that you got that window of time to research the enemy. So many of us had no time to do anything but watch as our dogs succumbed so quickly, and so obviously in pain. I for one, had never even heard of HSA before Cowgirl was diagnosed and it seemed to run rampant from that day forward and overtake her. It was torture to watch her ebb away.

We fed Cowgirl homemade food her entire life, she traveled through 3 countries with us, she was kept clean and all her health issues were attended to in a timely manner with no expenses spared, she was the most cherished member of our family. We always did anything we could for her benefit. We would have done even more if we had been given the chance when we learned of her HSA. She died at 13 and a half years old and we miss her every moment still.

I love that Addie is the exception. I now know so much about this disease and if there is a next time, I will be more prepared for it. I might not be able to do anything, but then again maybe 'luck' will be on our side and we can buy some time.

Dog Bless.

ingrid said...

Thanks for that awesome post.

I was wondering about the drug Addie was on because no one out here knew what I was talking about.

My vets gave my Indiana 1 month - possibly 2 months if I gave her surgery & chemotherapy.

I go in circles every night wondering where the cancer came from and what I did wrong. She was on such good organic, all natural foods and supplements and kept in such good health!! She was my only. She was my everything. I made sacrifices so that she would have the best, while I had enough to get by. It was my duty and pleasure.

I only ever battled with her allergies. And that makes me wonder if they were somehow related. Did she lick her feet one too many times? Did I not wipe her feet well enough after being outside?

I also wonder how I didn't suspect.

She had gained 4 pounds in the last 2 years of her life, but showed no signs of extra weight. Normally I'd notice 2 pounds and call her my fatty boomba-laddy. I wonder now if those extra pounds were her tumor.
I also noticed that she slowly began to jump on things less and less. Couldn't have been for lack of exercise!! But suddenly she started acting like she needed help getting on the bed and furniture. I wonder now if it was painful for her to move like that. . . .

I knew (and loved) my dog so well and yet. . . . .

a cancer I never heard of snuck up and took her away.

I read Addie's journals over and over trying to find the thing I didn't do right. I just can't find it. I just cry every night in my strange new life.

If only I had more time I could have driven her out to Colorado for a different vet with the correct information. But I wasted too much time searching around the tri-state area for a vet who could offer help.

19 days wasn't enough.

I love your posts and I'm so glad you can give some advice for others. I know Addie's survival has helped me in a strange way. . .and I can only hope her struggle and survival aids in other's extended life!!!!!

Best to you all!!


Val said...

I'm so happy for you and for Addie. I've said this before, but I feel like my little sweetheart and Addie are fighting HSA together.. (Addie is just several months further with it than he is.) Both had splenectomies and both are being treated with Neoplasene. We'll hit three months in just a few more days, and despite some occasional borderline anemia and an accompanying heart murmur, we're doing very well... We've been lucky enough to find no internal bleeding with our ultrasounds or Xrays.

I hope and believe that our strong little dogs will still be around for years to come :)

PS - I highly recommend the help of Dr Ault of Her BI-COM machine can tell a lot about a dog's well being from just a tiny drop of blood, and she may very well be able to shed a bit more light on your situation even without seeing Addie herself.