Dr. Erin Bannink, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology), GDipl VCHM, CVA (IVAS)

Dr. Erin Bannink, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology)

Graduate Diploma in Veterinary Chinese Herbal Medicine

Certified in Veterinary Acupuncture

Integrative Oncology Consultations

at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services

Dr. Bannink provides Integrative Oncology Consultations (IOC) to offer you a comprehensive and holistic approach to your pet’s care after a diagnosis of cancer. This informational sheet is provided to help you understand the experience you and your pet will receive during an Integrative Oncology Consultation with Dr. Bannink. 

Pet Parents who would like an integrative oncology consultation with Dr. Bannink and who are both unable to travel to Michigan and live outside the state of Michigan, can elect an Integrative TeleConsultation with Dr. Bannink through their local veterinarian, who will be primarily managing their pet's care. Pet parents interested in a TeleConsultation are required to be working through a local veterinarian trained in TCM in order to provide optimal and legal patient care. Dr. Bannink will consult directly with your local TCM veterinarian in support of your pet's local care team.

This service is unique to OVRS compared to most other oncology clinics in the country. Dr. Bannink is one of a select few board certified veterinary oncologist in the entire country actively practicing integrative oncology with Traditional Chinese Herbal therapies and emphasis on the impact of diet in your pet’s healing. OVRS offers a unique experience in that Dr. Bannink has access to state of the art conventional medicine diagnostics and treatments in a multi-specialty referral hospital, as well as extensive training in the use of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine interventions and significant clinical experience (over 12 years) utilizing these treatments in oncology patient care, either alone or in conjunction with conventional medicine therapies.

About Dr. Erin Bannink

In addition to her board certification in veterinary oncology, Dr. Bannink holds a graduate diploma in Veterinary Chinese Herbal Medicine and is certified in veterinary acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). She began integrating Classical Chinese Medicine with conventional cancer therapies during her oncology residency and has been offering these therapies as part of an integrative approach to cancer care in a multi-specialist hospital setting since 2007. Dr. Bannink is a faculty member of the College of Veterinary Integrative Therapies (CIVT) and lectures to worldwide audiences about Integrative Cancer therapy using Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Why an Integrative Oncology Consultation?

An Integrative Oncology Consultation is scheduled to make sure Dr. Bannink has enough time to give you a comprehensive and appropriate consultation to educate you about the options for your pet (diagnostic, both conventional and alternative medicine), discuss prognosis so you have a good idea about what the options mean for their longevity and wellbeing, discuss specific diet recommendations, and have time to perform the tests and treatments elected, whether those be imaging or alternative medicine workup, conventional medicine therapies or alternative medicine therapies. In cases where specific anticancer treatment is not recommended or not elected, she will have time to discuss end of life care options and other actions you can take at home to help you get the most out of the time you have left with your pet.

 

Components of an Integrative Oncology Consultation with Dr. Bannink:

  • Discussion of additional diagnostics and staging tests which may be helpful for your pet

  • Discussion of Conventional medicine treatment options and prognosis with those treatments

  • Discussion of your pet’s prognosis with no treatment

  • Discussion of Alternative Medicine treatment options, specifically Dr. Bannink practices an expanded version of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This includes:

    • Acupuncture

    • Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

    • Select supplements, western herbs and/or nutraceuticals

    • Vitamin D3 testing and appropriate supplementation

    • Options to monitor inflammatory markers in your pet’s body

    • Dietary and lifestyle interventions

  • Discussion about how diet impacts your pet’s health and wellbeing, and changes you may want to implement at home regardless of treatment elected

  • Perform elected diagnostics that are able to be performed the day of your visit 

  • Formulation of a treatment protocol tailored to you and your pet’s needs

  • Initiation of these therapies the day of your appointment

 

You are never obligated to do anything, including tests or specific treatments. Although many clients elect an Integrative Approach, some clients prefer to purse alternative medicine or conventional medicine alone, or may elect to implement select alternative therapies such as diet change with conventional medicine without pursuing herbal therapies or acupuncture. The goal of an IOC is to present options so you can elect the treatment approach that best fits the goals you have for your pet’s care. 

For those with a primary interest in alternative medicine, it is important that you have spoken with a board certified oncologist about your pet’s diagnosis and been given all the diagnostic and treatment options available, including the conventional medicine options. There are often new, minimally toxic, treatment options of which you may not be aware. This allows you to make the most informed decision about your pet’s care. 

Good Medicine

This comprehensive approach is just good medicine; to inform you of the most appropriate and compassionate course of action based on your pet’s unique situation. Even for herbal therapies, this requires Dr. Bannink to know if the cancer is on the inside of your pet’s body, if it has progressed or regressed on the treatments you are already giving, and if there are other issues (like kidney or liver changes) that would change the herbal recommendations or options for treatment in general. Additionally, even if your pet has had diagnostics such as bloodwork, radiographs (“x-rays”) or an ultrasound in the past, if time has gone by (even just 3-4 weeks) things may have changed on the inside. Knowing the current state of disease is important for Dr. Bannink to offer you the best, most informed care based on your pet’s current situation. 

 

Again, tests and treatments are never required. However it is important that you are accurately informed about all your options in making an educated decision about your pet’s care.

*If you believe you only want to see Dr. Bannink to discuss alternative medicine and are currently working with another veterinary oncologist, you can schedule an Integrative Oncology consultation and indicate that the time of your visit that you wish to focus the consultation discussion around alternative medicine and not review the conventional medicine information. To ensure you receive comprehensive information about your pet's current condition and the best treatment plan, I recommend you have recently met with your veterinary oncologist to discuss all conventional medicine options and your oncologist is 100% comfortable managing a patient receiving herbal medicine. It is important to respect that your current oncologist may not be familiar with herbal medicine and may not be comfortable managing your pet with conventional therapies while receiving herbal therapies if they do not have experience doing so. Dr. Bannink will always be respectful of her colleague's comfort level and recommend that herbal treatments be delayed at least until conventional treatments have been completed.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How Much is an Integrative Oncology Consultation with Dr. Bannink?

The cost of an Integrative Oncology Consultation with Dr. Bannink at OVRS is $385 (this is called an "IOC" when scheduling; $385 deposit required at the time appointment is scheduled - non-refundable if appointment is cancelled within 48 hours of your scheduled appointment time or if your appointment is cancelled and rescheduled by you more than once ahead of time).

 

Consultation fee covers speaking with Dr. Bannink at the time of your appointment and does not cover the cost of any diagnostics, treatments or follow-up visits or phone calls. 

How Long Does a Typical Consultation last? How Long will I be at the clinic with my pet?

The length of your appointment depends on the complexity of your pet's case, what diagnostics are recommended/elected and how many questions you have. Your listening style and your capacity to process the amount of information you will be given at the consultation greatly influences how quickly Dr. Bannink can get through the information about your pet's cancer type, recommended diagnostics, treatment options, prognosis, diet and herbal therapy options.

 

Integrative Oncology Consultations are placed in a 2 hour time slot on Dr. Bannink's schedule. This does not mean your appointment will be 2 hours. A 2 hour appointment is rare and usually only accomplished if no treatment is elected and you have few questions so Dr. Bannink can move smoothly through the information you are making your appointment to receive. Most often you can expect to be at the clinic anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on diagnostics elected, the number of questions you have, how long it takes you to arrive at decisions regarding your pet's care, and how long it takes for you to check in/check out. 

Is there anything I can do to expedite the check-in process?

Yes!

  • Please fill out all your paperwork on-line prior to you appointment. These forms are emailed to you and will include both a general patient/client information form and an Integrative Oncology history form with questions about your pet's current condition and your treatment goals.

  • Please arrive at the clinic 20 minutes prior to your appointment time to begin the check-in process. We are experiencing significantly longer delays due to the overwhelming process of curbside check-in which takes place by phone from the parking lot.

  • You can help us by ensuring that your veterinarian has sent over all pertinent paperwork and lab results including bloodwork, biopsy/cytology results, radiographs (x-rays) so that we have this when you arrive and do not need to call the clinic to get missing information. If we do not have these results, we may need to repeat some tests you have already paid for in order to help you make accurate treatment decisions. We work to acquire this beforehand, but we are not always able to get all of this information in a timely fashion. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. If you have copies of these results with you, please let us know so we can get them from you and put them in your pet's record. In cases where we do not have the required information to start your pet's consultation during your scheduled appointment time, your appointment will need to be rescheduled.

Is there anything I can do to help myself have a better experience at the Consultation?

  • Be prepared for a long day that usually feels emotionally overwhelming. Do your best to plan ahead so that you have not over-scheduled your day and are able to focus without feeling additionally stressed by other obligations.

  • Try your best to start your day relaxed. Sit with a nice cup of tea, take a walk in nature, a snuggle with your pet, read your favorite book. There are a number of relaxing meditations I've recorded that you can use to help yourself start the day off right. "Calm" and "Head Space" are two meditation apps that many people find helpful and that have free trials you can enjoy to help you explore different relaxation techniques.

  • Try to make time to watch the first "Mindfulness for Stress Reduction in Oncology Care webinar: Part 1" before your appointment time. This will help you with understanding your emotional experience and give you tools to help you navigate the emotional terrain of your pet's cancer diagnosis and the decisions you are facing with a little more ease and grace.

  • Write down your questions ahead of time and bring them with you. You will be emotionally overwhelmed and will be receiving a lot of information. That often makes it difficult to remember the questions you have now. If you write them down we can be sure to cover everything while you are here. 

  • Bring a list of all your pet's supplements and medications, including their ingredients and potency and the dose and frequency you are giving them (you can also bring them physically with you to the appointment in case we need to look at them more closely.)

  • Bring something to write on to take notes. (Some people also prefer to record the conversation so they can review the information later when they are more calm and relaxed at home.)

  • Bring a book, i-pad, knitting, some soothing music or other form of entertainment to help you feel relaxed and entertained while you may be waiting for test results or to talk to Dr. Bannink.

  • Bring a snack and beverage that you can eat in the car if you get hungry. It will be a long day.

  • If possible, bring a stable and supportive friend or family member (please understand that this option will be limited depending on current COVID-19 restrictions) or have them standing by for a phone call to help you process your options if that is helpful to you. Dr. Bannink is always open to having you conference them in on the consultation.

What About COVID-19? Can I do a Telemedicine Consultation instead of bringing my pet in for an appointment?

While this is an option you can elect right now since the COVID-19 situation has resulted in more leniency in what is required to legally establish a client-patient-doctor relationship, I don't usually recommend it for a number of reasons. 

  • Most patients need additional testing to get complete information. Many of these tests cannot be performed by your primary care veterinarian. If your pet is not physically present, I am limited as to the completeness of the information I am able to provide in making accurate treatment recommendations and guidance on prognosis, etc.

  • Chinese Herbal Medicine is a very patient specific approach. While I am able to prescribe based on test results, biopsy diagnosis and careful history, physical exam is a huge part of a thorough Eastern Medicine assessment. If your pet is not physically present, there are certain aspects of their condition and Eastern Medicine diagnosis for which I will be required to make an educated guess. I can provide much more accurate treatment recommendations when I am able to physically put my hands on your pet, meet them, do an exam and establish a relationship with them. This is my preferred way to practice and I always recommend an in-person consultation whenever possible.

  • If you still wish to explore the option of a Telemedicine consultation, because of licensing laws you must live within the state of Michigan for me to legally prescribe treatments for your pet. Telemedicine consultation fee is also $385 (deposit at the time consultation is scheduled). You would need to speak to Dr. Bannink's oncology service directly, as these consultations would be special exceptions. This option may not be available depending on changing regulations around COVID-19. Right now I do not have to physically see your pet to establish a legal client-patient-doctor relationship.

  • If you choose this option, you recognize that if your pet is not responding as expected or desired to the prescribed treatments, Dr. Bannink will need to see them in person for a reassessment and physical examination. This would require another appointment and, because her schedule is often booked out a few weeks, this may not be available right away.

Schedule an Integrative Oncology Consultation with Dr. Bannink

You must be physically present with your pet at OVRS for consultation.

If you do not live in Michigan and are interested in a consultation, Dr. Bannink offers Integrative Oncology Telemedicine Consultations through your local veterinarian. Details here.

 

Due to license laws, Dr. Bannink is not able to offer remote consultations directly with Pet Parents but is happy to consult with your pet's veterinarian.

Dr. Erin Bannink, DVM

Diplomate ACVIM (oncology), CVA, GDVCHM

Oakland Veterinary Referral Services

1400 Telegraph Road,

Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

248-334-6877

©2018 by Metta Pets