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Paws For Celebration: My Dog Is Cancer Free!

My dog Tiki and I have reached an important milestone: the six-month anniversary of his kicking cancer. Tiki, now 13, is the sweet Chow-Rottweiler cross...

Julia Szabo  |  Aug 9th 2010


My dog Tiki and I have reached an important milestone: the six-month anniversary of his kicking cancer.

Tiki, now 13, is the sweet Chow-Rottweiler cross that I adopted years ago from an animal shelter in upstate New York. To describe him as handsome is putting it mildly: He’s often met on the street by people who stop to admire his jet-black coat and gaze into his soulful brown eyes. Many will inquire, “What breed is that?” or “Is he a mini Newfoundland?” Then there are the passersby who remark that “He looks like a werewolf,” but we take that as a compliment. When Tiki really takes a liking to someone, he’ll give them a gentle hug by leaning his head into their thigh (seriously adorable). Some cuddly werewolf!

Tiki’s good looks landed him a gig as the cover model of my book, “Pretty Pet-Friendly.” He performed admirably for the camera, turning on his brightest megawatt smile and lifting his ears as high as they would go. But this past winter, I noticed a blemish on his perfect face. The right side of Tiki’s snout appeared swollen, and almost overnight, it was grotesquely distended, as if a large marble somehow got wedged in there.

A visit to the vet confirmed my worst fear: an angry-looking mass had attached itself to my dog’s gum like a barnacle, and that’s what was pushing his snout out. The needle-aspirate biopsy returned from the lab “inconclusive,” but I’d seen cancer work its fast-acting tricks before, on my pit bull Sam. The warp speed of this tumor’s growth told me it was most likely cancerous, and oral cancer happens to be one of the most aggressive forms of this deadly disease. So I decided to fight it with the plant medicine that worked so well for Sam in his long, brave battle with mast cell tumors: Neoplasene.

Formulated from alkaloids in the bloodroot plant, Neoplasene is the invention of Dr. Terence Fox of Montana’s Buck Mountain Botanicals. It’s an alternative form of chemotherapy that’s highly effective, plus it’s less expensive than surgery, radiation, and conventional chemo.

Unlike conventional chemo, which attacks all of the body’s cells, healthy and unhealthy, Neoplasene works like a heat-seeking missile to target only the cancerous cells, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Enlisting Neoplasene early in the fight against cancer can help prevent disfiguring surgery. In a case like Tiki’s, conventional wide-margin surgery would have dictated that part of his jaw be removed along with the tumor – just to be sure of cutting all the cancer off. I’m pretty sure having a partial jaw would’ve been a painful and uncomfortable way for my dog to live, and I don’t believe it’s fair to put an old dog through that kind of difficult recovery.

After three injections of Neoplasene administered under anesthesia, Tiki’s face began showing dramatic signs that his body was evicting the cancer. As his immune system martialed its reserves to fight off the invading killer cells, his entire face swelled up, making him resemble a jowly Neapolitan Mastiff. People in my hood gasped in horror at the sight of him, as if he really had morphed into a werewolf overnight. They were doubtless secretly wondering what kind of sick experiment I was performing on my dog; I assured them that he’d be OK and he wasn’t in pain. I don’t believe I was lying – he was, after all, still eagerly wagging his tail. I would never betray the trust that shines out of Tiki’s beautiful eyes when he looks at me (thanks to photographer Lev Gorn for capturing that look in his black-and-white portrait).

Several times a day, I applied a thick, yellow “Wound Balm” (also from Buck Mountain) to Tiki’s snout, to keep the tissue soft, so that it would open up and drain away the dead cancer cells. Finally, his snout began bleeding profusely; this was the desired result, and cause for celebration. It was the hoped-for “healing crisis,” in which the body literally deals a death blow to the cancer that’s trying to kill it. I like to think of that blood as the tumor’s, not Tiki’s! The swelling of his face eventually subsided, and an inch-wide crater of clean, healthy tissue appeared on Tiki’s snout where the tumor used to be; it healed up beautifully all by itself. This process took about two weeks.

People who’d gasped at the sight of Tiki during his treatment are now shocked at how beautifully he’s recovered. The only evidence of anything different is that his snout is slightly shorter – maybe one centimeter – on the side where the tumor used to be. Considering that my dog didn’t need to have any part of his jaw removed, this is a major victory. Most vets would cautiously consider Tiki “in remission,” but I consider him cured. Still, cancer is like the monster in a horror flick: just when you think it’s dead, it rises again, even meaner than before. So, to prevent a recurrence, Tiki will be taking twice-daily doses of oral Neoplasene with his food for the rest of his life.

If your vet won’t consider this alternative form of chemo, you don’t have to take no for an answer; simply consult a different practitioner. To locate an animal hospital near you that uses Neoplasene, contact Buck Mountain Botanicals and ask for a referral. Say Tiki sent you.

Photo Credit: Lev Gorn