Dr. Gerald Post

Where Your Veterinarian Takes Their Pet When The Diagnosis is Cancer

My own dog Montout was diagnosed with oral Melanoma in March of 2014. This diagnosis was devastating to me at the time.  The experience of being a patient at the Veterinary Cancer Center is very unique compared to other hospitals. The atmosphere is very relaxing and the support staff is extremely personable.  Dr. Post and the oncologists of the VCC approach the subject of cancer and treatment in a manner that not only makes you feel confident, but also comfortable at the same time. They are invested in you and the bond you share with your pet. 

Dr. Dan Whalen - Winslow Park Animal Hospital

Story of Capone Soden

Hello,

My name is Carey Soden and I was asked to write the story of Capone, my dog.

I first noticed Capone limping one night in mid May, 2012. He was always a very active and goofy dog so I assumed he must have hurt himself jumping or running around acting silly. His limp was still there after about 2 weeks so we made an appointment at a local veterinary hospital. After the veterinarian examined the right hind leg, he came to the conclusion that it was an torn ACL. He discussed surgery with us, but wanted us to try an anti-inflammatory drug for a few weeks to see if Capone would improve. After 2 weeks, the limp was getting worse. We took  Capone back for radiographs, and that is when my life and my boy’s life changed forever.

The vet came back into the room, handed me Capone's leash and showed me the radiographs. The only part I remember was the word "Osteosarcoma". He must have said it a few times. Once he sat down, I asked him what is Osteosarcoma? He said "It is a type of bone cancer", I quickly responded with "take his leg!". He proceeded to tell me "that will not help, there is nothing we can do, he will be dead in 8 weeks at most and I can give you steroids for the pain". All I could do was cry! Capone leaned into my legs, head tilted and kept kissing me, all over, my hands, my legs, my face, my neck, my tears. He knew something was upsetting me and wanted to comfort me. He didn't know why I was upset, he just knew that something was wrong.

The next day, I took him to another veterinarian for a second opinion. The diagnosis was the same, but he gave us options. There were things that we could do, we would not just have to let Capone die.

I emailed a researcher in Ohio who runs a research clinic and he suggested that I contact VCC and make an appointment. Within a few days, we found ourselves driving from Southern New Jersey to Connecticut, for hope. We had the window down the whole ride so Capone could enjoy the wind in his face.

VCC gave us the same diagnosis , but there was some hope. We had found a way to have the amputation performed. 

After the surgery, over the next few days, Capone was getting better and better at walking around. Life was good once again! We kept him on the herbs and supplements and diet change. Every day we went for car rides, walks, longer play time, more treats, more toys, Capone really lived like a king.

Over the next few months, things where going great! He was happy, healthy and even had his 5th birthday! If we had not gone to The VCC, his  "expiration date" would have been mid August. Here it is September and Capone is doing so great!

In mid December, he started to limp on his left hind leg. I hoped it was just a sprain. After a few days, I could see his ankle was the huge. On Saturday, December 22 we took him to the veterinarian. They told us that his cancer, the osteosarcoma had spread to his hock (ankle bones) and that it had probably spread to his lungs as well. My husband and I decided to go home and spend the next few days choosing what day would be his final day. I cried hysterically the whole way home. Again, Capone showing me comfort. He was in pain but what a strong boy to show me love when I was weak.

Sunday, December 23rd was the last day he walked. He stayed in our living room over the next few days. I hand fed him, we carried him out to use the bathroom and had to hold him up the whole time. We spent those last days loving him and talking with him and kissing and hugging him.

My husband and I left work early on Dec 27th, 2012. We laid with him on the floor and stayed with him until the veterinarian put him to sleep. 

I have learned so much from Capone. Statistic's are just that, statistics. They are not absolute facts, they are not something that is set in stone, they are an average. Statistically, Capone should have died on his own 8 weeks after the limp started. He lived for 8 months after his cancer was diagnosed. During this whole ordeal, he was only in pain for a few days. I am grateful for the time we had with him. I made sure that every day was a fun and loving day.

I hope my boy knows that he made me a stronger person because of his diagnosis. I will miss him every day but I find peace in knowing that he has made a difference in our lives and others. We have been spreading the word about pets and cancer. It is not a death sentence, it's a chance to actually live life.

Thank you,

Carey Soden

Manahawkin, NJ

 

 

BART’S STORY - Beating the Odds

One of the worst days of my life was August 2, 2010 when my primary care vet called to say that after an exam and blood test my cat Bart had cancer.  I was DEVASTATED.  I noticed that he had lost some weight and attributed it to possible dental problems.  Cancer never crossed my mind.   I asked about his prognosis and she was not encouraging – a few weeks, or maybe months unless I wanted to put him through the stress and trauma of chemotherapy, and of course there was no guarantee that it would buy him too much time.  Her first inclination was to keep him home, happy and comfortable for the duration.  In the meantime, she prescribed prednisone which Bart began to take daily.

It’s my nature to question everything.  Although my vet (who has cared for all 7 cats) is wonderful and I would not think of ever changing vets, I was resistant to accepting “doing nothing” and “waiting” as an option.  I decided to find a holistic vet as I do believe in holistic healing as an adjunct to conventional healing.  I found a holistic vet not far from home, and just a few minutes away from Bart’s primary care vet.  I scheduled a consultation and had Bart’s test results sent to her.   The first thing the holistic vet said was that we must approach his cancer aggressively – and that she believed in a combination of conventional and holistic treatment.  She prescribed certain herbs and supplements. She is very understanding, with a compassionate nature and at the end of the consultation I felt a bit more reassured.    But most important, she stressed that I MUST make an appointment with Dr. Gerald Post, the distinguished veterinary oncologist.   She gave me his number in Norwalk and I called for an appointment. 

I was nervous when I walked into the Veterinary Cancer Center, but the environment and the kind and friendly manner of the staff put me at ease.  When I was brought into the examination room, Dr. Post and two associates – Dr. Olmsted and Dr. Smith greeted me in the same comforting way.  They examined Bart and he underwent an ultrasound which showed no evidence of cancer.  I told them that Bart was on prednisone for two weeks and was it possible?  Dr. Post suggested that in order to be sure that Bart did indeed have cancer -- and it was totally my decision – was to stop the prednisone for three weeks and return for another ultrasound.  We did.  Sadly, the ultrasound showed lymphoma.  I was numb.  Dr. Post discussed the best course of treatment for Bart and I began to feel hopeful. 

Bart started chemo immediately.   Once a week, Bart and I drove to Norwalk for his blood test and treatment. 

Bart adjusted well.  From the very beginning, he never seemed to have any negative effects from the chemo.  In the meantime, I shopped around for quality cat food, administered his medicine religiously and learned how to do therapeutic massage which he enjoyed.  New Age/healing music plays 24 hours a day in my home creating a calm, peaceful and tranquil mood.

Driving back and forth to CT, then rushing off to a full-time job in Manhattan and still trying to maintain a social life, was a grueling schedule.   But, Bart was my first priority and I would never ever for one minute put his needs second.  After all, he -- and his brother Claude, who I will get to eventually -- are the joys of my life. 

We began to look forward to making the weekly visit.    We are always warmly welcomed by the front desk staff, by the technicians and all the wonderful doctors.  The Veterinary Cancer Center is not a place to fear, but a place of hope and joy as you see the patients coming in – dogs wagging their tails and some cats purring in their carriers.   It’s a great comfort knowing that Bart is in the best possible hands.   The entire staff is dedicated to bringing love and healing to the patient and parents. And once in the examining room Bart is greeted by the attending doctor with a kiss on his forehead.  

Months went by and when Bart went into remission he was put on maintenance and his visits decreased from once a week, to every other week, then to every third week and eventually to every month.   He’s had some ups and downs, always pulled through.  Anytime I have a question or concern, I will call VCC and all issues are addressed immediately with patience and caring.  It’s now over two and a half years and I feel that if I was not sent to Dr. Post and his wonderful staff, I’m not sure Bart would be doing as well.                                                                                  

My life has been blessed with two loveable dogs and seven precious cats. I’ve felt the unbearable sadness of losing my beloved animals over the years.  But my life would not be as joyous or fulfilling without my animals.  So just like you would do for a parent or spouse, you take care of your animals with the same love and kindness and dedication.  And if you’re not willing to make the sacrifice of time and money, then you don’t deserve to have an animal.  They are your children and must be treated as such.   

I do not like to think about the day Bart is no longer here, but rather cherish each day that he is. 

Dr. Post and the amazing staff of the Veterinary Cancer Center are truly miracle workers.  Their devotion to making lives better for their patients and the patients’ families are nothing short of remarkable.  The VCC truly is a place of love and hope.

P.S.      My sister often asks about Bart and how he’s doing.  And I always say – “he’s doing well.”  About a year ago, while driving with her in her car she asked again.  And I said “he’s doing well.  He has the best doctor around – Dr. Gerald Post.”  She turned to me and said, “I know Gerald Post. He’s a renowned veterinarian.”   And she proceed to tell me that her two daughters (my nieces) went to school with Dr. Post’s younger brother and sister, were friends growing up and that the families lived around the corner from one other.  Dr. Post’s mother would always tell my sister “Gerald wants to become a veterinarian, ever since he was young.”  Well, Dr. Post, on behalf of myself and all your patients, all I can say is, we are so very thankful that you did!!!

The Story of Bear - Canine Osteosarcoma

Bear came into our home when he was 9 months old.   We were moving into a new home and noticed a beautiful husky puppy in our neighbor’s yard.   Every day we would observe him sitting alone in a yard, sometimes even overnight, tied on a short line with no refuge from the sun and often with a tipped over water bowl by his side.   Our family was very disturbed to see this young dog being treated so unfairly.   We soon noticed that other neighbors were sharing the same experience.  Without discussion or an organized plan, we soon found we were all doing things to help the puppy e.g.: Moving him to the shade; taking him for a walk; making sure his water bowl was always full.   It became time to approach the neighbors and share with them our concerns.  The neighbors were a young couple with a new baby.   The relationship between the couple was ending.  The young mother was overwhelmed with being a single parent, let alone taking care of a high energy Husky.   The couple offered to sell the puppy for $300.00.   The other neighbors turned to our family and asked if we would take him into our home.  We had just lost our dog and had not considered getting another family pet, but we just knew we needed to give him a loving home.  

Bear was extremely high energy puppy and smart.  Being a high energy dog, we wanted to give Bear things to do; after all he is working bread.   We trained in agility, and eventually included search and rescue work, and dog sledding.  Bear continued with his training routines in all of these areas up until the day of his accident with our other dog.

 May 14th, 2010 - It was a warm May evening; Bear was out in the yard playing with his brother Boomer, an Old English Sheepdog.  The two of them were wrestling and we heard a horrifying scream from Bear.   He appeared to hurt his front right leg.  We brought him into the veterinary clinic and had an X-ray done on the leg.   The leg appeared broken but in an area where a specialist would need to do the repair.   We called the recommended specialist and brought Bear to the appointment.   It was within moments of viewing he X-ray that the specialists suspected Bear had osteosarcoma.  We were in shock.  We were given the specifics of the disease, expected prognosis, costs, and treatment course.  Bear would need to undergo surgery and have the leg amputated.  We would have specific post-surgical care instructions which included keeping him fairly contained for 2 weeks post operation in order for him to heal.   Chemotherapy would be the recommended course, if we chose to battle the osteosarcoma beyond surgery.   We chose to do the follow up chemotherapy once we learned the cancer had not spread to other areas.  We were informed that Bear had an excellent chance of living another 12 months with the treatment.   We read all the information about osteosarcoma on the Internet.   Some of it was helpful and reassuring but we eventually stopped looking at the sites.   We ultimately decided that getting our information from the veterinary oncologist at VCC was the best decision for us because it was current, reliable, and we could ask questions.  

 Bear's treatment course at VCC - Bear was started on the recommended protocol for treatment of canine osteosarcoma.  His blood work was taken at each visit to ensure he could tolerate the treatment.   He did fine throughout the entire course of chemotherapy except we noticed he became nauseous on the 3rd day after treatment, for 24 hours.   We were able to successfully treat the nausea by giving him an anti-nausea pill for a few days following a treatment.  His quality of life and energy all remained at an excellent level throughout this care.  

 Once the course of chemotherapy treatment was completed Bear was placed on maintenance chemotherapy. Bear continued to progress until July, 2011 when 2 small tumors were noted, 1 on each lung.   He looked great so once again we were surprised by the news that the cancer had returned.  Our choices were to do nothing or actively treat the tumors with chemotherapy.   We chose to do the chemotherapy and the tumors disappeared within 2 treatments!  Bear continued the full course of chemotherapy and he was winning the battle. 

A new clinical trial becomes available - Bear completed his second course of chemotherapy and we needed to think about maintenance Therapy.  Bear's VCC oncologist, Dr. Post shared with us information about a clinical trial that was being conducted and it looked promising.  We agreed to try Bear on the drugs being used in the clinical trial, Palladia and Metacam.  He was able to remain on the Palladia another 4 months but recently we observed another nose bleed.  Once again he is off all medication and we plan to have a discussion with Dr. Post to review next steps.   At this point his chest X-rays are negative for cancer and he continues to love life.   Bear and his brother Boomer still romp in the yard and cuddle with the family in the evenings.  Bear still has the desire to find people and tags along for training where the team provides him a special search and rescue exercises.  I do wonder what he thinks when the same people need for him to rescue them over and over again week after week. 

My experience at VCC has been a positive one.  If I call with a medical concern I can always depend on a follow up response.   If Bear is having an issue I find the communication between the veterinary oncologists is excellent.  Every doctor will review Bear's record and know the issues and recommended course of care.   I even had one of the oncologist call me as a follow up to ensure all was well.  VCC is on the cutting edge with oncology care for canines and includes clinical trials in the fight against cancer for your pet.   Lastly, I would like to mention how closely VCC works with our local veterinarian, faxing and sharing all relevant medical information.  I even had occasions where the local veterinarian was invited to call VCC while we were at an appointment to allow our local veterinarian to be able to speak to the veterinary oncologist first hand.   I can only describe that as top rate quality of care and service.

My experience to anyone who hears those terrifying words "your pet has cancer".  Do not give up hope.  Make an appointment immediately with VCC and explore what options are available for you and your pet.    

 

 

 Watch Channel 12 Pet Talk - featuring Dr. Gerald Post, Carol Ferrucci and Bear

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Bear running though the snow - you can't keep a good dog down.


 

Bear Enjoying A Day Made Just for Him

Smokey's Story

 “Smokey taught me the value of leaving no stone unturned in the search for better therapies and the importance of hope.” - Dr Gerald Post

 How can I summarize a life on a page?  How can I express the unbearable grief I felt? How can I explain to you the uttermost joy I experienced for 15 years with Smokey?

The words on this page are but a pale attempt to convey both unbelievable joy and unbearable sadness.

Smokey, my miniature schnauzer, was more than a pet to me, he was my constant companion. For 15 years we shared our lives and his passing on May 21, 2005 was one of the saddest days of my life. But as horrible as that day was, it will always be overshadowed by the 15 years of utter happiness. No matter what went wrong (or right) in my life, Smokey was always with me, and his presence and love got me through many tough times. We truly shared our lives; it was always Gerry and Smokey together, never Gerry nor Smokey alone.

Smokey was always excited to see me. (How many people in your lives are always glad to see you?) No matter if I was gone for an hour or 2 weeks, when I walked through my front door, I knew I would hear his bark as he came running towards me. As most pet owners know, this welcome home is one of the great joys of being a dog owner. And in truth, I was always equally glad to see him!

Smokey, my Smokey-dog, my companion, was truly a constant source of happiness. Smokey spent the first 10 weeks of his life at my side. During the day we went to Central Park to play and at night we both worked at a local emergency hospital (I was on the late night shift at a veterinary hospital.) For the next 15 years Smokey saw me through a residency in oncology, studying for boards, board certification, multiple moves across country, and countless other trying times in my life. The unique bond that I shared with him can never be broken or duplicated.

I think the hardest thing Smokey had to do in his life was to share me. For 11 years, he had to share me with my partner, David, and for the past 9 years with our other pet Cody. Sharing was never one of Smokey’s strong points (as both David and Cody can attest), but he did come to love both David and Cody very much.

Smokey was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma after I noticed a tiny cut on one of his toes; a biopsy of the toe and a radiograph of his lungs showed that the melanoma of his toe had already spread to his lungs. When I saw the radiographs and read the biopsy report I was devastated, as I knew that the average survival time of dogs with this type of cancer was about 3 months. As Smokey was incredibly healthy and vibrant at this time, and I was unwilling to lose him, I contacted everyone I knew in the veterinary and human oncology fields to try and come up with a treatment plan that would save him. We put him on two courses of one experimental vaccine with chemotherapy, which miraculously caused the tumor in his lungs to shrink, then remain stable for an amazing 9 months. We then put him on a third experimental vaccine which slowed his tumor’s growth rate for another 12 months. Smokey’s tumor then started growing again. By this time in his life, he also started to develop weakness in his rear legs, likely the result of inter-vertebral disc disease. Two and a half years after the initial diagnosis, we unfortunately had to put Smokey to sleep due to complications of the metastatic melanoma.

Words cannot express the thanks to all of the people who helped me care for Smokey. How do you say thank you to someone for allowing you to feel joy? Without the help of Drs. Debra Wesiman, Robyn Elmslie, Steve Dow, Jedd Wolchok, and Phil Bergman, Smokey’s treatment would not have been possible. I also want to thank my partner, David, for his loving care of Smokey during the past 11 years and for taking Smokey for many of his treatments.

Smokey taught me the value of leaving no stone un-turned in the search for better diagnostics and therapy for a loved one stricken with cancer. This lesson will be one of Smokey’s legacies. As the owner of a veterinary oncology practice, I have devoted our practice to searching for THE BEST therapy available for every animal with cancer. We will insure, to the best of our ability, to offer the best therapy available, even if that therapy is only available at another location. If I would do it for Smokey, we will do it for your pet.

The loss I felt and still feel over his death is sometimes overwhelming, but even this grief is insignificant compared to the happiness I shared with him. Whenever I feel sad, I just remember the euphoric feeling I had every time Smokey jumped into my arms as I came through my front door.

Smokey, I will always be with you (and in truth you are always with me),

Gerry