Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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48 Today's Veterinary Business Community Rob Thomas with Dr. Sue Ettinger and Ollie Community At the time, my husband and I worked in the same spe- cialty hospital, and I begged him to introduce me to Rob. I was such a fan, but Kerry thought an introduction would be inappropriate during a veterinary visit. He was right, but he reluctantly and awkwardly did it anyway. Over the years, I would see Rob and Mari when they brought their dog Samy to see the neurologist. Through their visits to other specialists, we became friends. Cancer struck the Thomases again in 2016 when their dog Ollie, 6 years old, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in his right eye. Rob and Mari called me as soon as they got his diagnosis and asked me to be Ollie's oncologist. I was not the closest geographically, but they were willing to travel and trust me with Ollie's oncology care. I have grown almost pathologically attached to Ollie. He is a ginger-toned, mixed-breed dachshund with the softest coat, and he is incredibly protective of Rob and Mari. The first day they arrived for a consultation, one-eyed Ollie was in Rob's arms, and he growled at me when I went to hug Rob. Over the last 19 months, I have treated Ollie with the melanoma immunotherapy vaccine, inject- able chemotherapy, oral metronomic che- motherapy and supplements. We see each other regularly for treatments, testing and snuggles, and now Ollie protects me fiercely. Even from my staff. Throughout Ollie's treatments, Rob and Mari have become my closest friends. They flew me to Denver to supervise his treatments while Rob was touring in 2016. The fan girl in me barely ever surfaces anymore. I have been to so many of his concerts, on the tour bus with Ollie, in Rob's dressing room before and after shows, and invited to din- ner at their house. They have given me access to their lives. This unique insight has taught me more lessons than I ever imag- ined about veterinary medicine. Know What You Do Not Know When Ollie was diagnosed with the malignant melanoma in his right eye in August 2016, I had been a veterinarian for 18 years and a boarded cancer specialist for 12 years. I've treated thousands of cancer cases. And still, I had never personally managed a canine patient with this type of cancer. I had plenty of experience treating malignant melanoma in the more common locations, like the mouth and digits, but none in the eye. Typically, more than 80 percent of eye melanomas are benign. But not Ollie's. I could not let down Rob and Mari, so I did research. I consult- ed with other oncologists, and I got second opinions. And then I used my experience and training to create a treatment plan that I hoped would beat Ollie's cancer and maintain a good to excellent quality of life. In veterinary medicine, we will keep learning and seeing new things. Don't be ashamed of what you do not know. Only be ashamed if you do not do something about it. What You Think You Know, You Might Not Ollie's protocol includes drugs I pre- scribe routinely, including NSAIDs, stomach protectants, supplements and medications formulated to pre- vent chemotherapy side effects. While the Thomases trust me medically, they do their research before anything is added to Ollie's protocol. He is on almost 20 medications for his heart and eye conditions, so we need to think What rock star and dog owner Rob Thomas taught one practitioner about veterinary medicine. 1 My celebrity client Continued from cover 2

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