I’m an imposter?

What are the “things” you use to define yourself? Do you best identify with your familial status (mother, husband, daughter?) Or do you describe yourself by your talents (musician, artist, writer?) What is it that matters most when it comes to saying who you are?   I happen to classify myself most consistently with the … Continue reading I’m an imposter?

Can’t you just give me the “chemo pill?”

I’ve been a major slacker lately when it comes to writing articles. I blame the fact that a few months back, the staff at PetMD cut back on asking me for contributions, therefore reducing my incentive (read: deadlines) for completing my tasks. My absence doesn’t stem from a lack of thought. I still possess a … Continue reading Can’t you just give me the “chemo pill?”

Snake Oil or Cure All? How Can We Tell The Difference?

Have you ever heard of snake oil? It's an expression generally reserved for unproven remedies for various ailments or maladies, but is also often used to describe any product with questionable or unverifiable benefit. Chinese workers, building the First Transcontinental Railroad in the mid-19th century, used snake oil to treat the painful inflammatory joint conditions … Continue reading Snake Oil or Cure All? How Can We Tell The Difference?

Top 10 medical conditions affecting dogs and cats

Nationwide Insurance recently reported the top ten medical conditions affecting dogs and cats and their associated costs based on data from claims from over 1.3 million owners for more than 550,000 pets. I assumed cancer would be the top disease on the list for both species. It is the most frequently diagnosed illness in older … Continue reading Top 10 medical conditions affecting dogs and cats

Who will you vote for?

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be a remarkable and unforgettable event. There are numerous controversial political topics being addressed, including typical “big ticket” items such as healthcare, gun control, and national security. I raise no concern with a country that prioritizes the aforementioned matters with respect to political affiliation. However, I’m disappointed … Continue reading Who will you vote for?

Ode to the Oldies…

I have a soft spot in my heart for geriatric pets. I’m a sucker for the graying muzzle of an elderly Labrador retriever. I relish scratching the fuzzy face of a cranky senior cat. All pets are special, but the extensive history and regal personalities attached to the aged ones is something I simply can’t … Continue reading Ode to the Oldies…

Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?

“I’m sorry.” Consider the magnitude of impact these two simple words can have. Apologies, when uttered from a place of sincerity, are remarkably meaningful. They are capable of erasing negativity, clarifying misconceptions, and easing hurt feelings. They also convey understanding, solidarity, and compassion. When we are sincerely sorry, we are also truly humbled. For medical … Continue reading Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?

Out of the mouths of animals…

Dogs and cats are frequently diagnosed with tumors of the oral cavity. This diverse group of cancers includes growths along the gingiva (gum), lips, tongue, tonsils, the bones and cartilage of the upper and lower jaws, and the structural components holding the teeth in place. The most common oral tumors in dogs are melanoma, squamous … Continue reading Out of the mouths of animals…

When veterinarians care too much…

Compassion fatigue is known by many alternative terms: vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress, secondary stress, and even second-hand shock. Most often, we associate compassion fatigue with the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. Every person working in a “helping profession” is at risk for … Continue reading When veterinarians care too much…

All about Prognostic Factors

Prognostic factors are characteristics possessed by a patient, its tumor, or both. They predict the likely course of the cancer, and ultimately, your pet's prognosis, or final outcome. Prognostic factors could help estimate a patient’s survival time, chance of success with a particular treatment plan, or risk for recurrence of disease following surgery, radiation, or … Continue reading All about Prognostic Factors

When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

People readily associate a diagnosis of cancer with severe adverse clinical signs. I’m not speaking of the effects of chemotherapy or radiation; rather I’m referring to the decline in a patient’s quality of life occurring secondary to progression of disease. Regardless of whether the patient is a human or an animal, we’re equally capable of … Continue reading When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

You never forget your first…

His name was Ali, as in Mohammed Ali. He was a handsome 1½-year-old tan and white Boxer with a sweet and playful disposition and a ton of energy crammed into the tiny makeshift exam room. Though Ali was only one of dozens of dogs evaluated at the Southside Healthy Pet clinic that evening, I’d forever … Continue reading You never forget your first…

It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

There are many gray areas in veterinary cancer care. Rarely am I certain that a particular treatment option or surgical strategy or chemotherapy protocol is “the absolute best” plan of action for any given patient. My uncertainty stems not from a lack of knowledge or experience; it arises from a dearth of evidence based information … Continue reading It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

Diagnostic tests are essential to my daily activities as a veterinary oncologist. For example: I require a complete blood count (CBC) test before every chemotherapy treatment. I analyze results from fine needle aspirates and biopsies in order to formulate therapeutic plans. I use radiographs (x-rays) to look for metastasis (spread) of cancer to internal organs. … Continue reading My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

When the remedy is the poison…

There’s a specific routine we follow for each pet arriving for a chemotherapy appointment. Owners arrive and are greeted by a technician, who will ask several questions about how their pet is doing and if any complications from a previous treatment arose. If all is “status quo,” the patient will be taken to our treatment … Continue reading When the remedy is the poison…