Keeping Up With Molly

Molly's all smiles onboard the boat

Here is, perhaps, the biggest understatement of the year: I’m pleased to report that Molly is doing well.

Previously, on Keeping up with Molly (insert video montage here)… Our sweet dog Molly’s digestive issues plagued her since the day we brought her home. After about a year of failing to find the right food for her, we found that she had inadvertently been ingesting gravel from our backyard. After three weeks of medication to help the grit move out naturally, which didn’t work, she was down to 36 pounds from her previously healthy 43. So in she went for surgery to clear things out. While there, they found tumors on her pancreas and liver. The official diagnosis is that it’s gastrinoma, an extremely rare neuroendocrine cancer. (We’re talking so rare that Dr. Rosenberg, who heads the Veterinary Cancer Group of Los Angeles, told me she had seen only two other cases in her thirty-plus-year career.)

Not enthusiastic with the treatment options provided by two oncologists — and certainly not content with their estimate of “she has one or two months to live” — we started working with Dr. Palmquist, our hero holistic veterinarian. Our first order of business was getting her digestion under control, since, according to Dr. Palmquist, the tumors were caused by her digestive troubles. We transitioned her to a diet of cooked ground pork, beef bone broth, and organic pumpkin, and it very quickly turned things around.

Molly hunting squirrels

We’ve now settled in to a routine of this combination for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (recipe below). Amazingly, it’s the first time she’s eaten the same food for more than a few weeks…and she still loves it.

At this point, nearly four months after surgery — and two months past her expiration date — Molly has gained all of her weight back. Her coat is soft and shiny. Her eyes are bright and attentive. She is vibrant and full of energy. We now go on two walks a day — typically at least an hour each time. (Most of that time is spent pulling me from tree to tree in the park, seeking out every squirrel. She’d keep going all day if I’d let her. It eats up a lot of time, but I figure it’s good for both of us.)

In short, if we didn’t know she has cancer, we’d have no idea she has cancer.

Molly on a boat!

Last weekend I took her to Catalina Island for a quick getaway. She loved being on the boats, fetching sticks in the ocean, and taking in every single scent around camp. She was having so much fun, in fact, that she was clearly grumpy when it was time for bed (late – at 11pm!). She then woke me up at 2:30am, licking my face. She never wakes us up in the middle of the night, so I figured she must have been desperate to go outside to pee. I wearily threw on a jacket and pants and took her outside. And what did she do? She started sniffing around, wanting to look for foxes or cats or, well, anything that smelled good. She totally played me!

Now I was the grumpy one as I dragged her back to bed. She begrudgingly went to sleep — but only until 6:30am, when she decided we had both slept enough and it was time to go out and explore again. She was truly a tireless, super-excited kid at summer camp.

Do you want the stick?Molly dancing on the beach

There are still two minor issues that we’re troubleshooting: She has a bit of urinary incontinence and a throat irritation of some kind. I hope they’re unrelated to the cancer, and are a mere annoyance. However, on the chance that one of you reading this has a brilliant idea, I wanted to mention it here. Had it not been for your suggestions of removing rice from her diet, and for the recommendation to see Dr. Rosenberg, who referred us to Dr. Palmquist, I’m quite certain that Molly would be dead right now. This blog quite literally saved her life.

On Dr. Palmquist’s recommendation, we’ve been adding ground, raw pumpkin seeds into her food, and giving her Bladder Strength pills. They may have helped, but neither has solved the issue. I then started to wonder if it might be a side effect of one of the other medications she’s on. Sure enough, after consulting Dr. Google (which I only recommend doing with a great deal of skepticism), I found that incontinence is an uncommon side effect of metoclopramide in people. We’ve reduced the dose to one-third of what we had been giving her, and it seems to have helped…Now she tends to leak only after it’s been hot and has exerted herself a lot, and is then back home and napping. Next week I’m meeting with Dr. Palmquist and I’m hoping we can discontinue the metoclopramide entirely — with any luck, that will solve the incontinence inconvenience.

The second issue is the cough. It’s actually more like a gotta-clear-her-throat kind of thing, and is, as with most things Molly, intermittent. We have had her on one Chinese herb, Er Chen Tang, for a while, which we give every third day with lunch. It’s supposed to help reduce phlegm and balance the . (She also gets Pepcid twice a day, to help reduce stomach acid levels — possibly elevated by the activity of the tumor — and manage gastric reflux.) We don’t know if the phlegm is related to the cancer, or if she just, well, gets phlegmmy sometimes.

Molly enjoying Catalina Island

So that’s our life right now. Molly is the most energetic and happy she’s been since we adopted her. We walk a lot, and we cook a lot of ground pork (it’s impossible to buy ten pounds of ground pork at Whole Foods without being asked, “Whatchya making??” And then when you tell people, “It’s for our dog,” they definitely raise an eyebrow…).

At this point, we have no idea what the tumors on her liver are doing. They could have grown, they could have spread to other areas, or they could have — dare I say it — disappeared. I don’t want to say she’s “cured” or “healed” because we really don’t know, and I do get a wee bit superstitious about these kinds of things (who doesn’t?), but I like to remind myself that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate; it’s possible that the tumors are actually gone.

We haven’t done another ultrasound yet because we’re not sure we want to know the answer. If we do, what will we do with that information? If the tumors have grown, we’ll be tremendously deflated, and Molly will certainly pick up on that. If they’ve stayed the same, we’ll be disappointed, but will likely just stay the course. And if they’re gone, then we might become complacent and not be as meticulous with her food, walks, and playtime (and if we stop any of the medications and herbs, might the tumors return?).

So I don’t know what the future for our sweet girl will bring, but I sure do hope that we’ll be spending many more years together, doing our best to keep up with her.

Molly loves tennis ballsMolly playing with a tennis ball

Molly's Food
Author: 
Recipe Type: Dog Food
Cuisine: Canine
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
 
For those of you interested in the nitty-gritty details of what Molly's eating, I'm providing the current recipe that we're giving her. We had been giving her slightly more than this recently, but she's reached her target weight of 43 pounds, so we've reduced it to the quantities shown below. It is working well for her to get this amount three times per day. Of course your dog's needs will vary, and it should be noted that this food is not "nutritionally complete."

We get our pork and beef marrow bones from our local Whole Foods, and always choose the highest "step" rating as possible. I try to buy the most humane, sustainable, healthy meat we can, both for the sake of our dog and for the animals that she's eating.
Ingredients
For each meal
Instructions
Prep in batches
  1. To make a batch of pork: In large skillet, add approximately 2 to 3 pounds of ground pork. It works well to break it into "burger-sized" pieces, and just cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes - turning just once. Once cooked through, remove from pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess fat, and to cool. Once cool, add the pork to a food processor and pulverize into fine bits. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the bone broth according to directions here, and store in glass jars in the refrigerator (can also freeze).
  3. Grind the pumpkin seeds in small batches in a spice grinder or powerful blender or food processor until reduced to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For each meal
  1. Using a kitchen scale, mix together the pork, pumpkin, and bone broth.
  2. If ingredients are cold, warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds, to take the "edge" off the temperature (it should not be hot).
  3. Add the pumpkin seeds, and stir. (I don't like to microwave the pumpkin seeds, since they're supposed to be raw.)
  4. Serve!

 

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31 Comments on "Keeping Up With Molly"

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patty
Guest

Princess Molly is amazing…her family amazing.luv these fab travels and updates
The dust from all this street work has us all coughing..
thank you

Debbie Knebel
Guest

Great work with Molly! So glad you’ve found things that work for her and are continuing to look for ways to improve on it. Hopefully the meds can be dropped. I agree with not doing the Ultrasound – unless you just want to give some money to the vet, in which case, just drop them a check. You are SO right about what you’d do with the information and you are on the right course. Enjoy your time with your girl and prayers of healing, guidance and comfort!

Sharon
Guest
I am so happy that Molly is doing so well and thrilled that you’ve found a regimen that works for you. You’ve convinced me to make some beef bone broth for the dogs. One thing I’ve added to my dogs’ food is tumeric paste. As with all preventative supplements, I’m not sure that it works, but everything I’ve read extols the virtues of tumeric and coconut oil, so I figure it can’t hurt. It specifically is supposed to help with cancer. To save you the trouble of looking it up, here is the recipe I used: – ½ cup of organic turmeric root powder – 1 cup of clean spring or filtered water (may need more) – 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (fresh is always best because of the piperine levels) – ¼ cup organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil (you can also use olive oil) Here’s how… Read more »
Monica
Guest

I couldn’t be happier to hear that Molly is doing well! I’ve kept her in my thoughts and it makes me happy to know that you’ve already had more time than you expected! She is clearly a fighter and that is a good sign. I hope that things keep going well. She is lucky to have humans like you just as you are lucky to have her!

Sally
Guest

Such great news Andrew. So happy that Molly has bounced back to live longer and bring you more joy in life. As we all know, food is medicine, for us and our much loved fur kids! We discovered that our Sheltie, Tate, has tremendous food allergies. I never stopped to think about dogs and food allergies, but it made so much sense when the vet discussed it with me. I’ve wanted to write about that on my blog too, in hopes of helping others. Through different food tests, we moved him to a “novel protein” – rabbit. Talk about hard to get. But he loves the food and it helps to keep him healthy. Again, so happy for you and Molly! She looks like a wonderful companion. And what awesome vets.

Liz Schmitt
Contributor

Overjoyed for you three. Keep going day by day…Throat irritation is a common side effect of gastric reflux for people, but don’t know about pooches. xoxoxo

Danielle
Guest

I’ve read on Mercola.com that resveratrol and turmeric + black pepper (apparently turmeric needs black pepper to do it’s thing) is effective in shrinking tumors. Might be worth a shot. Good luck!

Bonnie K.
Guest

She looks great. Treasure your time with her. She’s lucky to have the both of you in her life. Good luck with figuring out the throat issue. I have no idea what to suggest. Can dogs have coconut oil?

Jaynie
Guest
Hi, I just wanted to chime in… We had a horrible time with our dog Cassie’s digestive track until we switched to cooking her real food (a combo of turkey, chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, bone meal, digestive enzyme and multivitamin). She eats all of it every meal, her breath never smells, she has more energy and no problems going to the bathroom! Real food makes all the difference for ALL CREATURES! You mention Molly has some throat irritation. What leash/lead/harness do you use? If perchance you are on a standard leash attached to her collar that might be the cause — especially if with her newly found energy she’s excited and pulling a lot (I see just the one picture above with this set up). Cassie pulled a lot when we first adopted her until we switched to an EasyWalk harness. But often pulling can cause throat irritation or… Read more »
Julie
Guest

This is such great news! I am so glad for you and Molly! I have been wondering how she was doing. Thanks for the update!

June
Guest

Hi Andrew, wow, that’s amazing, I’m glad Molly is feeling better.

Our Boston terrier has mineral deposits on his ankle avheilies tendon, he will need orthopedic surgery if I can’t help him with the pain? Do you have any suggestions. Thanks june….

Jennifer L.
Guest
Andrew – this is the greatest email I have read in a long time! Serious great teamwork! Kudos to all. Thank you so very much for posting your awesome update. I read and cried while I smiled. Damn, Molly is so happy and so blessed with her fabulous parents. And wow, you are hooked up with extraordinary vets! (On a personal note, your blog post, in part, makes me so emo because I wasn’t nearly as compassionate as you have been when my mom was dying of cancer and talked about nutritional helps. I scoffed. But that was then. And thank God today my mind is more open.) I am amazed at what a difference good, and bad, nutrition makes to every living thing. Thank you again for sharing your story and educating us all. I am thrilled. Go Molly!
Dennis Wilder
Guest

Kunnahura

Paulina
Guest

I’m no expert in dog health, but the best way to cure cough for people is honey (1 – 3 tablespoons daily) and pineapple juice. I do not know if you can give any of it to Molly, but it won’t hurt to ask her doctor if it would be ok.

I lost my best dog friend due to cancer, so I know how it hurts. I hope Molly will get even better, so you could spend many more years together.

Rebecca
Guest

Hi, I have had a cough for over a year that is caused by acid reflux. I’ve gone through several medications before finding one that mostly controls the acid reflux while not causing other side effects. I still cough some but not constantly. Maybe Molly’s cough is being caused by her acid reflux. Good luck and I’ll keep her in my prayers.

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