Izzy’s joy

izzy1Izzy has one of the best noses of any dog I know. I usually have a treat jar in my office and when Izzy comes I have to hide it, otherwise he is obsessed with getting into it the whole appointment. I usually give one treat before an acupuncture treatment and one after and usually I can hide the treat for after on top of one of my picture frames but not from Izzy. The one time I tried he was climbing the walls, he knew it was there.

March 7th was a special day this year. It was the day that Izzy made it to two years after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called lymphoma. It is rare to get two years after lymphoma diagnosis and I always feel like if we can reach this milestone that the future ahead is much brighter.

If you want to talk about dogs with boundless energy Izzy would be up there. He often comes to see me after running or swimming at one of the local dog parks and he still has energy. A whirlwind of it all contained in a poodle body. But he is also one of the sweetest dogs out there, he can snuggle up to you with love, give you kisses and one look into his beautiful eyes and he has captured you.

I work with a lot of dogs with cancer, or in Izzy’s case who have had cancer, but Izzy is unusual in that he was only three years old when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. His wonderful people, Pete and Elise, made the decision to pursue chemotherapy for him because he was so young and lymphoma is quite an aggressive cancer.

izzy3However almost immediately after starting chemo Izzy’s energy dropped. He was no longer a happy, energetic dog but was instead lethargic and sick and his people, who loved him so much, felt like they could not continue the treatments that could help him but also were making him so sick. Luckily he was working with one of my favorite veterinarians, Dr. Tim Kraabel and he made a recommendation to try some acupuncture. I had briefly worked with Izzy’s people with another elderly dog who had since passed and they jumped right on board with that recommendation. Between Dr. Kraabel and Pete and Elise they identified that the prednisone that was part of his chemo protocol was a large part of what was making him ill. Dr. Kraabel recommended stopping it permanently and also stopping all the chemotherapy for a short time until we could get Izzy to a better place.

And so Izzy came to my practice.

From the first acupuncture treatment, Izzy was back to his normal energy. We also started him on a few different herbal formulas and supplements to both support his body and immune system and also to help fight the cancer. He did so well that we made a decision to continue his chemotherapy, although with longer intervals between the different drugs and he went through the full course without any major issues.

We have had one small setback when Izzy developed a second form of cancer in the form of a small skin tumor. Luckily it was removable and with one herbal addition it has not come back. Chemotherapy can predispose a dog to secondary cancers and while we knew there was a risk of that, you still hope that it doesn’t happen.

Izzy is such a wonderful illustration of what can happen when you get a team of people working together. Without Izzy’s people and their dedication to him and openness to explore and pursue all avenues of treatment for him he would not be here. Without the herbal and acupuncture treatments he would not have made it through chemotherapy and most likely would not have done so well after it. Without the chemotherapy he would not be here. And without Izzy’s determination to fight this fight none of this would have happened. We had a team where we could all communicate and trusted each other. We each had a part that we did well which came together in a way to give Izzy life.

I’m hoping that Izzy will have many years ahead of him to swim and run and love. To be a normal dog who can move through the world with joy and excitement. Perhaps he will finally slow down when he is in his golden years and maybe sleep a little more and run a little less and maybe come back to see me so I can treat him for arthritis.

No one knows what Izzy’s future holds but we do know that he is here now and by everyone’s prediction he shouldn’t be. But I always wonder, who are we to decide such things, especially when Izzy still has so much joy to show the world.

4 Responses to “Izzy’s joy”

  1. ep77 Says:

    My name is Erin Porfeli, I am new to this site. My baby Chloe (9 years) was recently diagnosed with either lymphoma or leukemia (we are waiting on the flow cytometry to see which). They are leaning towards a grade 5 lymphoma. She was nearly asymptomatic until 2 weeks ago. She had been losing weight over the last 6-8 months and I had her regular vet run a blood panel in November which was normal. Then she started having diarrhea 2 weeks ago that was relentless. My husband and I had been planning a trip to the Outter Banks in North Carolina with her because it is one of the few dog beaches on the east coast. Plus it was just her with us, we left the kids and our 3 other dogs at home so we could have special time with her. She was our first baby so it felt like old times. At the beach she was not herself, she was tired and had decreased appetite. We thought it was just her diarrhea (as previously mentioned) and she had an upset stomach. We gave her boiled chicken and broth but she still barely ate. Then within 2 days she was barely keeping up with us and was short of breath. We took her to see a local vet there and he checked her out and said she looked okay, but sent her home with sulfasalazine and nausea medication. The day we got back my husband took her to the emergency vet in Morgantown WV where we live. There they did bloodwork and an ultrasound and found a large mass in her chest and her WBC 250,000 and her PVC was 16% and her platelets 20,000. They sent her directly to Pittsburgh veterinary specialists and emergency clinic (PVSEC). There she was treated and admitted by an oncologist. That was 2 days ago. She was in their iCU for 2 nights, she got a blood transfusion which she chewed up immediately so her Pcv was still around 19% at discharge. She also got her first round of chemo, vincristine and asparaginase. She goes back Monday for cyclophosphamide and lasix. Her treatment will rotate each week, they called it CHOP therapy? Needless to say I have been on the internet continuously researching when we weren’t driving to Pittsburgh 1.5 hrs each way. I came across your website in the wee hours of the morning this morning and have been reading through it. I have made grocery lists and planned meals. I am trying to order the supplements but am getting confused because the websites do not give the percentage of each component. I was just going to order from your store but I cannot afford it, I’m so sorry. The $2500+ bill that I paid yesterday tapped out my savings so I have to do this in the most cost effective manner.
    I do not have a holistic vet near me nor do I have an animal acupuncturist. I am desperate for help. Can you please help me figure out which of these supplements I should be using? I am so sorry to bother you I am just desperate. Seeing Izzy’s story makes me hopeful. Thank you for your website and for doing what you do!
    Erin Porfeli

  2. Lena Says:

    I’m so sorry about your little girl Erin. If there are cost concerns I would highly recommend continuing the chemo as lymphoma can be so responsive to that. I am happy to pass on exact recipes for the formulas I use but it would probably be much more expensive to buy all the ingredients – herbal costs can also unfortunately add up.

  3. ep77 Says:

    I am using your recipe for the dog food, she seems to like it a lot. I have been researching your site and I am trying to narrow down the herbals based on your lymphoma suggestions. I am planning on starting
    Xiao Chai Hu Tang
    Milk Thistle
    Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang
    Mushrooms (I am adding to her food. After soaking the dried, do I need to cook them? Are store bought
    Better than the dried?)
    Yunnan Baiyao (her oncologist actually put her on this because if nosebleeds)

    To get started. Which amazon brands of the Xaio Chai Hu Tang and the Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang do you think is formulated best? And if I bought your herbs, how many days could I get out of each herbal in the amounts you ship? Can I get milk thistle from GNC? In her food, I have been cooking the egg, is it better raw?
    Are there any other herbals I should give or will this cover it? Should I do the detox too?

    I am sorry to bombard you with questions. There is no one around here that does what you do and I believe in it. I already see a difference in her appearance after changing her diet. I just want to do what is best for her. I adore my baby and want to keep her happy and healthy as long as possible.
    Thank you so much for your help. If I wasn’t 2500+ miles away! I would be at your door.

  4. Lena Says:

    Your protocol sounds identical to what we had Izzy on while he was going through chemo minus the YB and milk thistle. I find you don’t always need both BZYZT and XCHT. These days I usually just use XCHT. Truthfully I have not found a brand of XCHT that has the ginseng and not too much Chai Hu in it that you can buy without a vet on board (part of why I started the store) and the ginseng makes a difference. Unfortunately it is the ginseng that makes the herbals with it expensive, lately it has been going up about $20/lb every other month and is now up to close to $200/lb. My herbs are about 50 teaspoon to 100g (it varies a little formula to formula). Generally I use 1/4 teaspoon for small dogs, 1/2 for medium sized and 1 teaspoon for larger dogs a day.

    I don’t usually use detox support with chemo.

    Eggs maybe safer cooked if she is going through chemo, mushrooms better cooked (dry or fresh is both ok)

    Think I got your questions.
    best wishes,