Cancer Treatment - Various Notes back and forth by Donna Farmer, Fran Moody and Wyndi Harp about alternative cancer treatments, particularly hermangiosarcoma and mast cell tumors.  

These are thoughts and not an endorsement of any particular method of treatment.  As many of us know, when our kids are sick, we'll try about anything and here're some very hopeful stories.


Donna said:

I am not a vet, so please don't look to these notes as any great and definitive resource on the subject of mast cell tumors. This is just what I would tell a friend whose dog develops mast cell tumors.

First, get your dog staged by a really good vet, a canine oncology specialist, or at the local vet school. Mast cells in stage 1 are easier to treat. Stage 2 is tricky. It is hard to know which end of the scale you are on, but a bone marrow aspirate is another way to stage them as well. They have to be put under for that.  Stage 3 is a little harder to work with.

Different dogs, different treatments. It depends on how strong and healthy the dog is, what stage the cancer is in, etc. as to whether chemo is good or not or what kind to use.

Until your vet says you shouldn't, remove lumps and have them sent to the pathology lab. A needle aspirate is not sufficient (that can take in a sample that doesn't have the effected cells even if they are actually there!).

Medications to start with: Benadryl, Prednisone (daily at first then every other day, depending on the other treatments, definitely to discuss with vet!), Tagamet (or other acid reducer the vet recommends). I like to have vitamin C in there (must have the Tagamet with that!). Prednisone and Benadryl according to your vet

For a small BT, probably 500 mg and a large one 1000 mg. I don't have the numbers on this for the size of the dog to the amount. Again, I'd defer to a vet's suggestion on this and the Tagamet.

Chemo is not too bad for a dog that is already healthy and not very old. This is just a point to discuss with a QUALIFIED vet after examining the blood work etc. Big thing here is a strong diet ( Susan Lauten, PhD) to keep them strong and able to fight off the ill effects of the chemo and to not expose the dog to any illness you can keep away. No new foster dogs, clean up (shoes, clothes, wash hands, etc. after being around outside dogs), and no dog walks in public areas. At the vet, keep them in your lap and away from where sick dogs may have been. The big risk is that their immune system is VERY compromised and if they get sick, they might not be able to fight it!
Keeping their appetite up during chemo or just during cancer treatment can be an issue. Again, the really good homemade food that you get from a qualified nutritionist can be huge! They love the food and it is tailored to the specific dog (their issues, their age, size, etc.). It isn't that expensive when you think about what it can do to help boost your dog's ability to fight this disease!

Frank Gavlak's got some cancer food posted on us Homemade Canine Cancer Food (per Frank Gavlak) The anti cancer recipe from your site is about right. There were a few things different here and there, but the vitamins crushed up etc. are important and the fish oil too! Also, I like to add in some antioxidants such as Salmon oil.

If you need more help with treatment, see Dr. Clint Lothrop. He practices out of the Emergency and Specialty Clinic on Acton Road (205-967-6422). He also works out of Atlanta. Good egg and he seems to genuinely care about his patients. The cost and duration vary according to what kind of treatment is done and how long it is needed. There is so much variance in the way these tumors behave that you can't make any kind of guess on this.

If the vet doesn't know about this stuff, they aren't informed enough to treat for cancer!

Tammie had hers removed. No more cancer.

Dollymama had chemo and did okay, but didn't make it.

Charlie Barker (7 years old at the start of this) is doing fantastic (no loss of appetite, no lethargy, no sickness!). And I think we're getting somewhere for it. I also make food for Charlie high in antioxidants that a nutritionist came up with. He takes Prednisone, Vitamin C, Tagamet, and Benadryl too with no ill effect (antioxidants and type I and II antigens).

I know when you hear mast cell tumor it is deep impact blow. It is a roller coaster of good and bad days, but know that there is hope! You can join a yahoo group for canine cancer. They have a lot of knowledge there and support too.

Here are some more resources:

Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee Fannie Mae's Resources

This is a diet for cancer:

Cancer Food

More on diet and cancer:

More good info on Mast Cells:

A good site on dogs and cancer:


Additional notes:

I've got a nutricianolist who teaches veterinary nutrition and she has Charlie on a grain free diet (whole rice only) but with a good mix of veggies. Blueberries, pumpkin, lima beans, broccoli etc. are alternated in and out of the diet as they have high antioxidant factors.

I have a friend in Weimaraner rescue who does the Neoplasene treatment. I've read the articles on this treatment and find it impressive.

Personally, I am going with a mix of natural treatment with the diet and the additives (primarily the high vitamin C) and traditional (Prednisone, Benadryl, Tagamet, surgery, and chemo). I am seeing good results. We've had few new masses come up and I think the last one we saw was actually a drain off mass from a nearby one that was removed.

I think the key to good treatment is to find a good canine oncologist as mast cells are really tricky and coming up with the right regimen has to be tailored to the dog's condition, age, and the staging of the tumor. The best way to do this is to get a vet who knows what they're doing and I don't trust this to a general practioner of veterinary medicine (I wouldn't go to my GP if I had breast cancer - I'd find a specialist).

Please let us all know what treatment regimen you go with and your pooches progress. Sharing info is a HUGE part of how we learn about treating this common and awful disease.

Donna Farmer
Keller Williams Realty, Homewood Sales Center
Birmingham Boston Terrier Rescue




On 7/4/07, F.O.B < > wrote:

Hello Wyndi, I have never personally had any experience with mast cell tumors but I do have some knowledge via other friends who have.

Linda Trader has had quite a few Bostons with these tumors & she says as long as they are removed as soon as they pop up everything is fine. She has not lost one yet. I know of one rescue who was literally covered in huge hanging tumors he was in such bad shape that the vets said nothing could be done for him. Last I heard he was only on prednisone & still going strong after several years.

I believe Susan Hunter also has had a couple of dogs with mast cell. 

"Despite everything modern medicine has to offer, cancer remains among the most feared of canine diseases. Just over a year ago, Whole Dog Journal reviewed conventional, complementary, and alternative cancer therapies in a series of articles ("Canine Cancer Crisis," November 2005; "Conventional Cancer Care," December 2005; "Don't Despair, Just Care," January 2006, and "What Are the Alternatives?" February 2006) Since then, a cancer vaccine has been approved for veterinary use and a new version of an old herbal salve has become a "first choice" for many holistic veterinarians."

Neoplasene is the herbal salve, there are four Neoplasene products: Neoplasene salve (which is also known as Sarcoma #1) for topical application; Neoplasene oral; and two types of Neoplasene X for intravenous use or injection directly into tumors. This is an excellent group for people with cats or dogs with cancer. Various treatments & some amazing photographs on the site. Based on my research & speaking with holistic vets I wouldn't hesitate to put my dogs on Neoplasene for mast cell tumor if they were in an advanced stage.

Most vets prescribing these new therapies are recommending that the animal be placed on a grain-free diet. Apparently a low-carb diet is beneficial in healing cancer. My own Boston is battling another form of cancer, his holistic vet put him on Natures Variety frozen raw 95% meat 5% veg with all necessary vitamins etc.

Also no vaccinations including rabies. Heartworm every 45 days instead of 30 days.

Good luck,

Frances M

"Saving one animal won't change the world, but surely the world will change for that one animal" 

Donna wrote:

I think I would try the Neoplasene with an advanced case that couldn't go with a more aggressive treatment, but if the dog is healthy enough, I am all about aggressive treatment.



The June issue of WDJ also has an article by CJ Puotinen "Cancer Update" about two promising treatments now available for canine cancer - one of them is Neoplasene, a salve containing blood root, but :

Traditional black salves are made with zinc chloride, a caustic chemical that burns the skin. In contrast, Dr. Fox uses zinc chloride to make a highly ionic solvent with which he extracts bloodroot’s isoquinoline alkaloids. Although it is used in Neoplasene’s production, zinc chloride is not contained in the final product. Neoplasene’s bloodroot alkaloids comprise a small but vital portion of its ingredients. According to Dr. Fox, the isoquinoline alkaloids are modified in such a way as to cause diseased tissue to self-destruct preferentially, sparing healthy, normal non-cancerous tissue...

Ref: said:

There are four Neoplasene products: Neoplasene salve (which is also known as Sarcoma #1) for topical application; Neoplasene oral; and two types of NeoplaseneX for intravenous use or injection directly into tumors.

Most vets prescribing these new therapies are recommending that the animal be placed on a grain-free diet. Apparently a low-carb diet is beneficial in healing cancer. Harry's holistic vet put him on Natures Variety frozen raw 95% meat 5% veg with all necessary vitamins etc. There are some amazing photographs on the site.

I would use Neoplasene if Harry had mast cell or something other than this blood vessel cancer. His holistic vet did not feel Neoplasene would be appropriate.

Despite everything modern medicine has to offer, cancer remains among the most feared of canine diseases. Just over a year ago, Whole Dog Journal reviewed conventional, complementary, and alternative cancer therapies in a series of articles (“Canine Cancer Crisis,” November 2005; “Conventional Cancer Care,” December 2005; “Don’t Despair, Just Care,” January 2006, and “What Are the Alternatives?” February 2006) Since then, a cancer vaccine has been approved for veterinary use and a new version of an old herbal salve has become a “first choice” for many holistic veterinarians.



Ref: treatment hope.htm



The latest from Fran:

Harry’s Situation

Harry’s story is a work in progress, but we felt that it could still be of value to some of you whose pets may be having similar problems.  Please understand that this story is still developing and it could be months before we know the true results.

Earlier this year, on May 15 to be exact, we had to have our loving and loved Annie put to sleep.  Her health had deteriorated to the point where she would not eat or drink enough to keep her going and she moved about only with great pain.  With deep sadness, we let her go and turned our full attention to our other Bostons, Harry and Wally.   

In case you are wondering what Annie’s passing has to do with Harry’s health, the answer is simple.  For many months before her death, Annie would eat only specially prepared, home-cooked foods, and Harry and Wally often got to enjoy what Annie would not eat.  For that reason, Harry would only eat his dry food (Wellness) AFTER he ate what Annie left.

With attention now on Harry, we began to detect very subtle behaviors that were not in character with his nature.  Harry, although nine years of age, is as full of pep and fun and activity as a young pup, and we began to notice that he just wasn’t as “Harry” as he had been shortly before.  His appetite seemed a bit off, but we attributed that to his not having Annie’s home-cooked leftovers any more.  With Annie’s decline fresh in our memories, we decided to take Harry in to see a vet even though there was nothing specific to check out.  

On June 8, we took Harry to the vet, who gave him a thorough examination and found, to our surprise, that he had developed a lump almost the size of a golf ball in his throat.  We had not seen or felt the lump, even though Harry was all over us much of the time.  The vet did a needle aspiration and took blood for analysis, as well.  

Three days later, on June 11, we got the results back from both the blood work and the needle aspiration, and the pathologist felt that the lump was a hematoma and no cause for concern, but that the blood showed two elevated enzymes that might indicate a liver problem.  As a result, the vet suggested that we begin treatment for the suspected liver problem. 

At this point, it is necessary to shift back to Annie’s situation briefly, because the same tests and the same diagnosis had been done on Annie and we had, in fact, begun treating her for a liver problem.  Later, to our sorrow, we found that he liver had not been the problem at all, so the treatments had not been necessary.

Based on that earlier experience with Annie, we decided NOT to begin treating Harry for a liver problem.  We had him examined by another vet on June 12, and that vet became quite alarmed by the lump and the proposed treatment, indicating that she felt the lump was probably thyroid cancer and should be removed immediately.  She made an appointment for the next day, June 13, at The Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital.   

At OSU, Harry had an ultrasound and another needle aspiration, and these tests indicated that cancer cells were present.  We immediately okayed surgery, and the next day, June 14, Harry had the tumor removed.  (Note:  It is important to know that the surgeon felt that they had been able to remove the entire tumor and stalk and that it had not yet spread to other organs.)  Following the surgery, OSU assumed that the tumor was cancer of the thyroid but wanted to wait until they received the report from the pathologist to be certain.

On June 20, the pathologist’s report was received and Harrys tumor was diagnosed as hermangiosarcoma, a cancer of the lining of the blood vessels, relatively rare and almost always terminal.  In Harrys case, even though all of the tumor had been removed at an early stage, the prognosis was not good.  He was given perhaps 2 to 3 months to live, and if we wanted to subject him to an aggressive program of chemotherapy, we might add another two months to his life. 

We knew that such an aggressive program would dramatically reduce the quality of Harrys life, whether it was 3 months or 6 months, and we did not want him to suffer that.  Searching for alternatives, we located a holistic veterinarian in our area and made an appointment to see him.

We had Harry examined by the holistic vet on June 25, and we thought the proposed treatment was preferable to chemo and was certainly worth a try.  The vet immediately put Harry on a holistic and homeopathic program consisting of a diet of raw dog food, various medicines and Chinese herbs, and weekly acupuncture sessions.  While he did not promise miracles, the vet did believe that Harry would live at least as long on this program as he would have lived on chemo, and with a considerably higher quality of life.

He also recommended NO VACCINATIONS of any kind and heartworm meds every 45 days not every 30 days.  The "reach back" ability of heartworm meds makes this possible.

We put Harry on the recommended program immediately, using medications and herbs from the vet’s office and the recommended raw frozen dog food available at our local pet supply store.   

That was on June 25, and today is August 15.  In ten days, Harry will have reached the 2-month point that was viewed as the possible earliest date to expect the cancer to take him.  As of this date, Harry has shown no signs of pain, discomfort, loss of appetite, or any of the symptoms we were told to look for.  He is playful, active, has a great appetite (loves the raw food) and is essentially his old self again.

Based on these early results, or lack of changes, to be more exact, we are guardedly optimistic about Harrys chances for survival.  The quality of his life is uppermost in our minds, and if that quality of life can be extended for 6 months, 9 months, or even a year, we will know that our decision was a good one.  Today, he shows absolutely NO sign of illness of any kind.



Today is a red-letter day for Harry, our 9-year old Boston Terrier. Today marks three months since Harry had his surgery to remove the hemgiosarcoma on his thyroid.

We declined the chemotherapy treatments, and we also “declined” the prognosis that he had a 2 to 3-month life-span. We took Harry to a holistic vet who put him on a raw food diet with daily medication and Chinese herbs, and later began treating him with acupuncture. Today, with regular checkups and strict adherence to the prescribed regimen, Harry shows no signs of the recurrence of the cancer and he is as active and happy and playful as ever.

Our objective in turning to a holistic treatment program for Harry was to give him as long as we could with a sustained high quality of life, and at the end of three months that objective has been met! Our objective has not changed, and now we can begin to hope that Harry will remain with us, healthy and happy, for another three months, or maybe six, or maybe a year. 

Whatever time he has, Harry is enjoying himself and we are ecstatic about his continued good health and vigor. We will continue Harrys holistic program (now reduced to one visit per month) and we will count the passing months as the result of an unconventional approach that we turned to when traditional vets were ready to sign Harrys death certificate.

Fran  :-)



For those wondering about the "strict adherence to the prescribed regimen," here it is below.   For those thinking this is foolishness, just remember Harrys alive and well, written off by his vet months ago:

Vascustatin Capsule 1
Zeel Tablet 1
Sargassum Jade Pot Capsules 3
½ “spoon” Whole Body Support Powder *
1 “spoon” Prozyme Powder *
4 medallions of Frozen Raw Chicken (Nature’s Variety) thawed to room temperature

Evening Meal:
Vascustatin Capsule 1
Zeel Tablet 1
Sargassum Jade Pot Capsules 2
Tang-Juei Pill 1
½ “spoon” Whole Body Support Powder *
1 “spoon” Prozyme Powder *
4 medallions of Frozen Raw Chicken (Nature’s Variety) thawed to room Temperature

* Sprinkled over raw food

Wellness Chicken, Lamb, or Venison Jerky treats

Filtered water; available at all times



Fran's Harry

November 14th was a red-letter day in the life of our Boston Terrier, Harry. That date marked the
5-month anniversary of Harrys surgery for hermangiosarcoma and it was at the outer edge of his
life expectancy of 2 to 5 months. He was given 2 to 3 months without chemo and up to 5 months with
intensive chemo-therapy. We were told that he would not be with us for Thanksgiving in any event. We didn't want Harry to suffer the ill effects of the very aggressive chemo treatment and spend his last
months in pain, so we elected to go with holistic treatment that included Chinese herbs and homeopathic medications, a strict diet of raw food, and periodic acupuncture.

At the time of the surgery, reports were that all of the tumor had been removed, but since it is cancer
of the lining of the blood vessels it was likely to recur. Now, with Harrys big date behind him, we
are happy to report that the treatment appears to have been hugely successful, as Harry is not only
still with us but is also still vibrant and active and, to all appearances, healthy. Our goal in going
with a holistic approach was to buy Harry as many months as possible of pain-free, high quality life,
and that is still our goal. We are continuing the treatment and will do so as long as Harry responds
well, as he has done to date. Whether he has a few more months or a year or more, we are committed to making his remaining time as healthy and enjoyable as possible.

At 5 months, we are thankful that we took the holistic treatment approach and we grow more
optimistic daily that Harry will be with us for many healthy and happy months to come.

Frances M