My friend Kin is a scientist who works with cancer cells. From the time Jasmine Blue got cancer, Kin was always there – to lend an ear, to explain the anatomy of a tumor, to teach me about radiation treatment. Cornell educated, Kin is a masterful scientist, but he also grew up in China where eastern medicine was a part of everyday life.
“I remember my grandmother taking us to shops to get herbs for us when we weren’t feeling well,” he told me over ramen noodles one rainy afternoon. As rooted in western science as Kin is, he also believes there is a place for eastern medicine.
“I think you should follow up with holistic treatment,” Kin said. “I called Smith Ridge and Dr. Goldstein recommends Dr. Palmquist in Los Angeles.”
Like Kin, Dr. Martin Goldstein studied at Cornell. Smith Ridge, his veterinary center in Salem, N.Y., is considered the gold standard for holistic care. Dr. Goldstein’s book, The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat, which came out over a decade ago, was a groundbreaking guide considered by staunch supporters of western care to be hocus-pocus, but now revered by many as way ahead of its time. With 25 years’ experience in western treatment, Dr. Goldstein was alarmed even a decade ago by the increase in cancer and other diseases, particularly in younger animals. His approach to healing revolves around strengthening the immune system, and treating the root of the problem instead of the symptoms.
Dr. Goldstein has had extraordinary success treating cancer in pets, causing other veterinarians to take notice. He inspired an entire generation of new doctors who believe there is a place for both western and eastern medicine when treating disease. One of those he inspired was Dr. Richard Palmquist, now chief of integrative health services at Centinela Animal Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., and a former president and research chair of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
Trained at Colorado State University, one of the top veterinary schools in the United States, Dr. Palmquist’s path to holistic care was not an easy one – it started with his desire to expose a quack named Dr. Goldstein.
When a former patient relocated to New York, a mutual friend informed Dr. Palmquist that she was being “ripped off by a quack alternative medicine doctor,” who was treating her golden retriever for lymphoid cancer. Dr. Palmquist became angry, and decided to call the quack. “I understand you cure cancer,” he said sarcastically. But Dr. Goldstein’s response caught him off-guard. “We don’t cure cancer. Frankly we don’t even treat cancer. What we do is support individual patients’ immune systems, and sometimes remarkable things happen.”
More intrigued than ever, Dr. Palmquist flew to New York to spend a week investigating. At a one-day seminar for patients, Dr. Goldstein presented a fully documented case from the top referral small animal hospital in New York – a cat with a massive untreatable brain tumor. The cat was blind, but after receiving dietary therapy, regained its sight. New x-rays revealed the tumor was 50 percent smaller.
Next Dr. Palmquist went to Dr. Goldstein’s clinic to observe his work. The first patient was a German shepherd carried in on a stretcher – a neurological exam showed he was paralyzed and not a surgical candidate; Dr. Goldstein was the last hope for the dog’s devastated family. Dr. Palmquist watched Dr. Goldstein apply acupuncture, after which the dog got up and walked to his shocked and delighted owners.
The experience at Smith Ridge changed Dr. Palmquist’s life – and his life’s path.
After three decades of practice, Dr. Palmquist has himself built an incredible reputation, featured on the CBS news for performing “miracles” on animals given no hope with traditional treatment.
When I called the clinic, Dr. Palmquist was with a patient. The receptionist took a message and a short while later I received a return call. “This is Dr. Palmquist,” the voice on the other end said. “I hear you have a dog with fibrosarcoma.” I explained that Jazzy had been through radiation at Davis, and Dr. Palmquist confirmed it was the right thing to do.
Over an hour’s conversation, Dr. Palmquist explained that while he believed in traditional treatment, it wasn’t always an option, and even when it was he often felt there was more he could do. “After radiation, you basically take your dog back every few months to see if the cancer has spread,” he explained. “But I want to supplement that traditional treatment with immune and cellular building therapies to try to keep the cancer from returning.”
When I informed Dr. Palmquist that we lived in San Francisco, he said, “I can recommend some holistic veterinarians nearby …” but I knew that Dr. Goldstein’s recommendation was made for a reason: Dr. Palmquist was the best. “I want to drive Jazzy down for a consultation,” I told him.
“I must be honest,” he replied in his soft, compassionate voice. “I haven’t had a lot of luck treating fibrosarcomas – they’re nasty suckers.” Unwavering, I told him that I wanted to give Jazzy every possible chance.
“The attitude of the owner goes a long way in a pet’s healing. Jazzy is very lucky.” I could almost hear him smiling over the phone. “I’ll see you both in Los Angeles.”