Cancer: what it means for you and your pet
Cancer is a scary...terrifying even...word for most people. I'll never forget one of the saddest things I've ever heard from a past client, who later became a good friend. She said to me, "When a pet gets referred to you, it's basically a death sentence". While that seems like an extreme statement, many people share that feeling and sense of hopelessness.
But there is always hope. And our strongest ally in life during challenging moments is always right inside of us. I strongly believe this.
"Metta" is a Pali word meaning "loving kindness". METTA PETS recognizes that, beyond anything your veterinarian can prescribe, it is your loving kindness for your pet and their care team (yes, that includes you!) that is the most important aspect of their healing and the journey to well-being for you both. METTA PETS also recognizes that it is the loving kindness and unconditional love that we experience from our pets that heals us. That is the magic, beauty and power of the human-animal bond. It is my wish that the information you find here will empower you to take an active and loving role in your pet's care. And to understand that what you do matters.
What I hope to relay in these blog musings and the information presented in METTA PETS is that cancer, like any other disease, is a call to action. It is an opportunity to shift our thinking. An opportunity to redefine our priorities. An opportunity to ask questions about life and death and the importance of the human-animal bond. An opportunity to grow and evolve our approach to living. An opportunity to become more present and to cherish the precious moments we are given. An opportunity to learn how to love better, to care more deeply, and to understand that kindness is what really matters in the end.
METTA PETS is a place to think about healing in all it's aspects. And, in particular, to understand how you can be an active participant in your pet's wellness, and in your own healing journey as you traverse the vast emotional landscape that is "cancer".
WHAT "CANCER" IS:
a definable result of multiple lifestyle factors that result in unregulated cell growth
a call to action
WHAT CANCER IS NOT:
a "death sentence"
an enemy to be conquered
Cancer is a manifestation of a severe imbalance in the body's normal healing ability and metabolic and growth-regulating processes. And, while cancer may not always be curable, it is very often possible to turn the condition into a chronic disease your pet can live comfortably with for a meaningful period of time, and in many cases much longer than conventional medicine statistics tell us is possible. What is required is a comprehensive view of lifestyle choices and what we can do to positively impact healing, well-being and quality of life.
INTEGRATING TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
I am a board certified veterinary oncologist who works in a multi-specialty referral center. My "non-conventional" veterinary training is in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). This system of medicine holds a vast tradition of options for managing cancer in our pets. Acupuncture, herbal therapies and nutritional interventions, the foundations of TCVM, provide additional tools to improve quality of life and assist the body in it's healing processes.
It has been my clinical experience over the past 12 years that herbal medicine holds the potential to bring healing in many cases that are not responding to, or are not ideal candidates for, conventional medicine. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that these options may hold the potential for improvements in disease control and quality of life when combined with conventional medicine treatments.
Herbal medicine, diet and supplements are powerful tools you can use every day to help your pet experience improved well-being after a diagnosis of cancer.
We are still learning about how to most effectively implement these therapies into an integrative treatment approach for cancer management. Every treatment plan must take into consideration individual patient factors. A comprehensive view of well-being must, necessarily, create a healing lifestyle for our pets that also includes a discussion on nutritional, environmental, and emotional aspects of disease control and healing. There are many tools available to us which support these goals and exist outside the conventional medicine, or "Western Biomedicine" paradigm.
Having a frank, honest discussion about all the treatment options and what we know about them is the first step to creating an informed treatment protocol that will best address the needs of your pet and your goals for their care.
For those interested in an integrative approach to cancer care, partnering with your veterinary oncologist and a veterinarian trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine can be a rewarding experience when embarked upon with mutual respect and cooperation with your pet's highest potential for well-being at heart.