Friday, February 15, 2013

Mr. Bugs Had Cancer (again)

While the day may eventually come to take a break, I have kept cats and dogs around the house for at least a quarter century. I admit that I am particularly fond of cats, in all their beautiful and mysterious ways, and one gorgeous marmalade girl in particular I have no hesitation in saying was genuinely extraordinary. She was brilliant, articulate and convincingly telepathic, proof in my eyes anyway, that while most creatures are created more or less equal, occasionally there is one created outside-the-box that is truly special. Losing my most beloved feline friend a few years back was nearly as difficult for me as any biped I'd ever been close to. But she was 23 years old, quite elderly in kitty years, and her well-loved life was pretty wonderful from start finish. She had a long, healthy run, as it should be.

This has not exactly been the case for Mr. Bugs, my current fuzzball pal of over a decade. The vet thinks he's about 15 years old, and although he's a sweet and happy critter, he's been dealing with a number of ongoing health issues for quite some time now. I've often wondered if it was the physical and emotional stress of his early life spent in abandonment that took him down this road of chronic health issues, but I'll never really know I guess. I brought him in as a stray when he was about 3 or 4 years old, after at least 2 years of occasional sightings, assuming he was pretty much fending for himself in the 60-ish green-belt acres surrounding my house. It was the day I noticed him sitting upright but motionless in the freezing rain, looking like the saddest creature on the planet, that I just gave in and added a fourth furry friend to my non-human family circle. That was over 10 years ago, and he's the last standing mi amigo el gato of the original bunch.

While he's not in any immediate danger, Mr. Bugs is on a special diet these days to keep his weight down and his skin from itching. I've also starting mixing slippery elm bark into his food twice a week, which has been shown to stave off the most common cat killer, feline kidney disease. He was showing the first symptoms of kidney distress, and I'm very happy to say they have subsided. But it was Mr. Bug's run in with cancer, twice now, that is really worth talking about.

About five years ago I noticed what looked like a small open wound on the top of Mr. Bug's nose. He's an indoor/outdoor cat and has always been a bit of a scrapper so I didn't think too much about it really, until I noticed that the sore wasn't going away. Actually, it was getting worse. By the time I got him to the vet, it was a quarter inch long lesion that had pretty much turned black and continuously bled….not cool. Even less cool was the diagnosis from the vet: Mr. Bugs has cancer, and will likely require most or all of his nose removed if he was to survive.

I struggled with the decisions that had to be made for Mr. Bugs knowing I didn't have a lot of time to make them. While this can get a person trying to "heal" in big trouble, I started doing net research on "miraculous cancer recoveries", and interestingly enough, a substance that had made it into my hands just few weeks earlier started popping up with some very interesting testimonials. It's called resveratrol, a naturally occurring phytochemical (vegetable compound) that accumulates in certain kinds of tissue when a plant becomes distressed. For instance, when red wine grapes deal with excessive heat, cold or even fungal infection, resveratrol is produced in the skin of the grape as a "preservative", for lack of a better word, that protects the fruit. Now, there has been extensive research on resveratrol for heart health and anti-aging, and not just from anywhere, try Stanford and Harvard, if you require academic validation of how interesting this stuff is. But at that time, a "cancer cure" claim was only being made by distressed dog owners who where willing to try anything to save their pups.

As I read what little info was available, two observations started to take shape. One, that direct resveratrol/cancer cell contact appeared to yield impressive results, and two, similar characteristics have been noticed from another more common and better-known substance, green tea extract…, why not mix the two and create a topical skin salve?

And that is exactly what I did. Equal parts resveratrol powder and green tea extract were mixed together in a goopy paste that I applied directly to the lesion on Mr. Bugs battered nose, twice a day. The lesion disappeared, completely, within two weeks. That was five years ago.

Obviously, this is one person's story with not a shred of scientific integrity, controls, measurements etc. But I do not take the experience lightly, Mr. Bugs is the last of my furry family after all. That said, just few weeks ago, the lesion made a comeback after the five years of no trace. I caught it early this time, but there was no mistaking what it was. Once again I used the same ingredients on Mr. Bugs, and once again, it quickly disappeared.

There's no arguing the benefits of well-vetted natural medicine. Aloe, folic acid, turmeric ect., all have proven medical effects that traditional Western doctors are only recently seeing as credible. I honestly think the answers for the biggest medical questions are still waiting to be discovered, out there in the jungles and rivers and perhaps even in our own backyards, ready when we are.

PS: Evan Bluetech, one my favorite modern downtempo composers, wrote this piece after his beloved dog Leilani passed away. Beautiful.

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