Wednesday, 4 February 2009
CV247 John Carter remembered
It has been such a joy to hear from so many lovely people and I've very much enjoyed hearing memories of John from so many sources.
Here's Gunner's story. A Belgian Shepherd Dog being treated at the same time as my old Sally.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences of John Carter and his treatment and for including the link to the news item on your blog - it brought back so many memories as I too took my dog to John for cancer treatment in 1994. I was very fond of John so extremely sad to hear of his death last year but delighted to hear that his CV247 has at last been licensed for veterinary use - albeit in Hungary! (although I think I'm correct in understanding from your blog that any vets in this country can now apply for supplies of it to use? [editor's note: I hopefully wil be able to very soon share with you the name of the first UK vet that will be able to treat using CV247 and also supply your own vet if they are happy to treat]) - I do hope John is looking on from the afterlife and so knows about it too!
I'm also delighted to hear that you would like to write a book about John and his work - I too have always thought that he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize - maybe it can be awarded posthumously?
You'd be most welcome to include my story if you felt it would be of use to you?
My beloved dog, Gunner (a Belgian Shepherd - Terveuren) was the absolute love of my life who went everywhere with me - one of those "once-in-a-lifetime" special, special dogs. Everyone who met him fell in love with him, even people who didn't usually like dogs - he had such a gentle, loving and wise energy. So you can imagine, when he was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in his left hind leg at the age of 10, I was absolutely devastated and prepared to do anything to try and save him. (Incidentally, on another theme - this was within about a month of having an "extra-large" booster vaccination - I hadn't had him vaccinated for some years, having started to hear rumours that it maybe wasn't such a good thing, particularly for older dogs, but was then strongly persuaded otherwise by a new vet - something I'll always regret.)
Gunner seemed completely fit and healthy in every other way, other than limping on that hind leg (and having a swelling where the tumour was). I had, thank God, met John a couple of years previously - a friend had wanted to find a homoeopathic vet and his name came up as being the closest (although he wasn't actually homoeopathic but as you know very keen on many other natural methods of treatment) and I'd gone along with her and been impressed enough to take Gunner for a check-up at age seven and on that visit noticed that most people there had dogs with cancer and so learnt that that was what he specialised in.
I was living in Exeter at the time of Gunner's diagnosis, doing a Fine Art degree as a mature student - but immediately gave that up and moved back to my parents home in Twickenham in order to take Gunner to John's for treatment as I felt this was our only hope. So within two days of the diagnosis we were in John's surgery in Kenton Road being given details of the diet, armed with bottles of potassium, niacin tablets and vitamin c tablets and being told quite sternly by John that we would need to come twice a day for treatment as, unfortunately osteosarcomas are the hardest form of cancer to treat - as the tumour is in the bone itself and the blood supply to the bone is quite poor so difficult for the nutrients in John's treatment to actually get into the tumour (bit hazy about the science of it - I suppose more likely it would be the nutrients boosting Gunner's immune system and his T-cells and maybe harder for them to get to the tumour).
The first week or so was really hard - I was so upset and in shock I think - I had no car so had to persuade friends and family to drive me or take taxis to Harrow twice a day (a 40 minute trip each way if we were lucky - more usually an hour due to traffic - nothing though compared to the distances some people were travelling as I gradually discovered!) But gradually John's kind and friendly presence relaxed us and we met such a lovely group of other people and dogs who were going through the same or similar to us - some also going daily, some only needing to go twice or once weekly. Gunner had always hated going to the vets, but somehow he knew this was different and always happily trotted into John's waiting room with his tail wagging, completely relaxed - wondering which of his friends he would see that day. I then managed to buy an old banger and drive myself (hair-raising in itself, having not driven for five years or more!) and we settled into a routine of getting up, juicing carrots and wheatgrass, making up Gunner's food for the day (as John had said it was important he didn't go too long without eating) making sandwiches for myself and setting off for Kenton.
As you say John was a lovely eccentric character and had no conception of time (!!) so we spent many hours waiting for him to arrive - some people did get annoyed at this but I just felt there was nowhere I'd rather be - as long as I was there, Gunner would get the treatment and was hopefully getting better. By then there was a core group of us who were in it for the long haul and the support that gave to us all was immeasurable. When I think back its amazing that all the dogs got on so well together - I think there was a special sorting of healing atmosphere in that place, even though it looked pretty austere!
So we continued having twice daily treatment for eight months - Gunner thrived on the diet - his fur got shinier, he was relaxed and happy, full of energy and love - raced around on three legs as if nothing was wrong (it was obviously uncomfortable for him to walk on his bad leg, although he did sometimes, amazingly - but other than that he wasn't in any discomfort at all - amazing as I've since heard that bone tumours are usually extremely painful).
The cancer didn't spread (it usually does, quite quickly, with bone cancer) and the tumour didn't get any bigger - but it was still there and Gunner's leg started to get quite swollen. Another of John's patients with osteosarcoma (a female yellow labrador called Dash, who Gunner adored, incidentally) had had six weeks of treatment (she had also got secondary cancer in lungs and heart as I remember) - and her owners then made the decision to have her leg amputated (they were having to come down from Exeter twice or three times weekly). This amputation was very successful - she coped perfectly with three legs and the cancer had gone from her lungs and heart (and incidentally she was still doing well a couple of years later). Because of that, we reluctantly made the decision to have Gunner's leg amputated as it seemed as if the treatment couldn't actually get rid of the tumour - and we were worried that the swelling could get worse and start to cause him discomfort. He would be fine on three legs, we knew that, as he was already in effect only three legged.
Anyway, we took him to a lovely vet a few miles away, who John referred us to - he obliged us by x-raying Gunner's leg without using an anaesthetic (Gunner was so good they were able to ask him to do "dead" and he just lay still on the table) and we booked him in for the op.
That day was awful (for me) - I was so worried Gunner wouldn't survive it - but all went well, they kept him in overnight and by the next day said he could go home - they were astounded by how well he had recovered - he was up and about and barking when I went to fetch him, and hopped into the car as if nothing had happened!
Unfortunately for us though, a miracle healing wasn't to be. Two weeks later, Gunner suffered some sort of stroke - I rushed him back to the vet who'd done the operation and they kept him in overnight - how I got through that night I'll never know - I stayed at a friend's house, sleeping (well, lying!) on the sofa (I couldn't bear to go home, in case that dreaded phonecall came to say he hadn't made it), and lay awake all night praying and praying for a miracle and then just praying that I would at least see him again. My latter prayers were answered - they stabilised him and I was able to collect him the next day - but they weren't very optimistic.
My beautiful boy was so full of life, he still wanted to go for walks, ate with gusto, still went to John's for his CV247, still loved to see his friends, although his body wasn't working properly (he was still lop-sided from the stroke). For a week he seemed to be improving and I really thought he'd make it, but then he started to decline - I took him to a spiritual healer but nothing helped. I stopped taking him to John but John rang me every day to offer support and advice - he was such a good friend during it all. My soul was ripped in half when two weeks after the operation, on 22nd December 1994, my beautiful Gunner died.
A friend of my brother's, who is a doctor, told me that strokes can quite often follow amputations - something to do with bone marrow in the blood stream (in fact my nan had died of a stroke after an amputation a few years previously) - if only we had known that before (although I believe its rather a controversial opinion so I'm sure many vets and doctors would refute this).
We'd tried everything but it seems it was Gunner's time to go home. I just thank John so much for those blessed eight months we had together where Gunner was so happy and pain-free - for the wonderful friendship and support we received from John and his other clients and their dogs and most of all for the gift of spending those eight months entirely in each other's company - Gunner and I that is. Gunner was my most beautiful, precious golden boy - a true gift from God - he taught me so much in his living and his dying. He lives on forever in my heart - I will never "get over" losing him but I'm used to him not being with me now and know his wise and wonderful spirit lives on as I'm sure John's does too.
As one of the wonderful spiritual books I read after Gunner's death (Who Dies? by Stephen Levine) says, being healed doesn't always mean your body will survive. Gunner was truly healed in a spiritual sense I think. It took a while longer for me as I was so bereft at losing his physical presence. I thought I could never have another dog but six year's later I felt ready and now Oboe, another (rescued) Belgian Shepherd shares my life - I know Gunner approves!
Anyway Beverley, I'm sorry I've really waffled on here - probably much too much info. that wouldn't be relevant to your book - I hope you don't mind me sharing the details of my story with you.
Actually, I forgot to say, I even met you at John's surgery one day - I remember it was a boiling hot day and we were stuck in traffic on our way to John's as usual, and I was periodically spraying Gunner with a plant spray to keep him cool - when we arrived at John's it turned out that you had been behind us in the traffic - you commented on having noticed I was a more than usually dedicated dog owner (or something similar) and should have known I was coming to John's! You had brought Sally for a check-up I think - it was only afterwards I discovered who you were as you left some copies of Dog's Today for the waiting room (and some of the other regulars knew you I think - and I remember the older couple who used to bring their Yorkie from Yorkshire were there that day and you being really impressed by that!)
Anyway Beverly, as I said before, thank you so much for sharing your story of Sally and your father - I was very touched to hear it and I really do hope you manage to write the book. John really did work miracles and deserves to be widely known about - I'm just so thankful his treatment is now secure and will go on to save many more lives.
Keep up the fantastic and tireless championing and campaigning for our dogs that you do.
with very best wishes
PS Having thought a bit more about the diet John used to prescribe, I think it varied a bit depending on the severity of the cancer - for Gunner, he wasn't allowed any protein except 2oz of lamb's liver per day (that was for a 62lb dog); no salt in any form (even cucumber's weren't allowed as apparently have some sodium in them); only grains allowed were oats, to be made into biscuits just using water; no mushrooms (but all other veg OK and had to be organic); carrot juice VERY good and had to be given several times daily - as much as he would drink; sprouted wheat and alfalfa also VERY good and given daily. No fat of any kind. Only bottled mineral water to be given to drink and for making the oat biscuits (NO tap water, ever!) - and sodium content to be checked so one very low in sodium to be used (some are quite high).
Obviously this diet pretty restrictive so you wouldn't keep a dog on this for ever, just for duration of treatment then ease some other things in. To make up for the low protein, Gunner was given a B12 injection every day by John. He also had liquid potassium every day and Vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid) was to be added daily to his food; also given Nicatinamide tablets (a form of Vitamin B3 - this particular form causes the blood vessels to expand so helps circulation - but causes something like a hot flush - which obviously you can't see in a dog but did used to make Gunner pant! I think that effect is lessened if they're given with food) And given pancreatic enzyme capsules several times daily (derived from pigs) - so quite a lot more involved than just the CV247, so hopefully this info. will be given out with the sachets (as I'm sure all these supplements can be obtained quite easily) - obviously the Hungarian vet who worked with John would know all the precise details of this.
I know the diet was based on the Gerson Therapy used to cure cancer in humans - lots of info. on that on the net - Max Gerson's book " A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases" talks in depth about the diet in one or two chapters and his reasons for it (John lent me his copy at the time to read) but there may be more books out now for anyone who wants to really go in depth into the reasons for it.