Our bad experience with Animal Recovery Veterinary Centre
To write this blog is just like adding salt to my wound that has not healed yet. Yet I decided to write this especially for pet owners whose cats are suffering from cancer.
My friend, Mel and I thought Animal Recovery Veterinary Centre is a top animal hospital in Singapore. Despite the good reviews we read in the forum, we found out through the hard way that this is not true.
We brought our beloved cat to the centre as she was suffering from cancer. We spent lots of money on their recommended remedy, shanhuang, which cost about $180. It tasted and smelt so awful that my cat spit it out violently and formed foam in her mouth. We only did two ultrasounds and we trusted the diagnosis that she was suffering from lymphoma. We were told that Miemi’s type of cancer is easily treatable and she was in good hands with a high chance of recovery.
Subsequently, everything else happened in a blur. Miemi was given weekly chemo injections without any checks on whether her body could take it. The ‘checks’ were only based on my observations on how she was doing. Eventually, Miemi’s condition deteriorated and we brought her back to the vet. The vet didn’t even examine her. She didn’t even dispense her any medicine to ease the pain. She pronounced Miemi’s death sentence just like that. Eventually we had to call another vet from another clinic to euthanise her as ARVC doesn’t offer such services. We then learnt that Miemi was suffering from an infection. Blood tests should also be done to check on her health status before chemo injections are administered. We also learnt that it is inaccurate to diagnose the cancer type just by observation. Every cancer type has its protocol. Thanks to good advice, we managed to nurse Miemi back to health and had earned back some time o spend with her.
I remember the notice which was hung on the wall of ARVC, there is one clause that says “please do not embarrass yourself by asking for discount”. “Yourself” refers to “the customers”. To me it is an embarrassment to see such a sign hanging on the wall. It doesn’t look professional at all.
Below was an email sent to Dr Ly by us:
Dear Dr Jean-Paul,
My cat, Miemi Lee, was diagnosed by Dr Sabine two months ago with lymphoma. She saw you once before Dr Lee took over and gave her weekly chemo injections. However, Miemi’s health got worse and during her last visit on 4 Jan 13, Dr Angeline diagnosed that she would not last long and did not give her any medical treatment neither did she try to save her. My cat is just like a family member to me and I would not spare any expense on her health. Your clinic claims to be managed by professionals but I am very upset by the treatment that Miemi received at your centre. I am writing to you to seek clarification on your clinic’s medical protocol and doctors’ diagnosis of Miemi’s illness.
Dr Sabine diagnosed Miemi based on ultrasound scans. However, no biopsy was made. I understand that different cancer types have different treatment methods. On what basis did Dr Sabine base her diagnosis upon?
Miemi had 7 chemo injections. She was getting significantly weaker in her last two injections. However, no blood test was done throughout her chemo treatment. On what basis was Dr Lee sure that Miemi could take the shots and that the chemo was not too strong for her?
Dr Angeline examined Miemi when she was very weak on 4 Jan 13. She did not do a thorough examination of her. Instead, I was told that Miemi would not live long because Miemi’s body temperature was 35.1 degree Celsius and i was told by Dr Angeline that Miemi was unable to regulate her body temperature. She dispensed her with some L-lysine supplement and gave her a jab only when i requested her to give Miemi something. My question is – does the fact that Miemi has cancer mean that it would be certain that she would die? Why did Dr Angeline give up on her so easily?
I have trusted the good reviews of Animal Recovery Centre and have paid a lot of money for Miemi’s treatment. However, my experience tells me otherwise.
Looking forward to your reply.
May Lee and family
Below was the reply from Dr Ly a week after the email:
Dear May Lee,
Please accept my apologies for the delay with my reply.
It is unfortunate that you are unhappy with the level service which was provided for Miemi.
With regards to your queries, the diagnosis was based on clinical signs and ultrasound investigation by our very experienced ultrasonographer, Dr Sabine Bozon.
She is a recognized authority in Europe and not all suspected tumors can be easily biopsied such as brain or intestinal tumors, without an invasive surgical approach.
However, in the case of Miemi, she was too sick to undergo any surgical intervention.
Based on the strong ultrasonographic evidence we offered to try low dose chemotherapy to see if she would respond.
Lymphoma in cats ia the most common and frequent reasons for enlarged lymph nodes and intestines, together with thickening of intestinal lining.
The age of Miemi, her clinical symptoms and the ultrasound findings, point towards feline lymphoma.
As we cannot take the risk of waiting or taking the biopsy surgically, we opted to try low does vincristine and wait for a response.
Fortunately your cat responded favourably, confirming our suspicions,.
You must realize, we have not found a cure for cancer either in animals or humans.
Lymphoma can be controlled in our experience, with low dose vincristine and immune modulating supplements but relapses can be expected in 50% of our patients and often relapses tend to be terminal.
We can only try our best and if any second opinion is required, we will gladly refer all our patients’ records to other vets for treatment.
We obtain our degrees formally, through universities, our work experiences and continuous education. We do not consider the internet as a source of reliable information or worthy of us getting our training from.
During the last visit, Dr Yang saw that Miemi’s condition was very advanced and as a holistic practice, we take into consideration the feelings and suffering of our patients.
Therefor, it was felt at that time that no more treatment would be given as Miemi was already very weak and so we gave her some vitamins to help her and explained in full to you, about the seriousness of the illness at that time.
Dr Yang felt that death was imminent and Miemi was certainly suffering.
Although we are highly trained, we are not flawless and I myself make multiple mistakes in my life, but we try with all our skills to help our patients, sometimes even if it is for just another day.
However, we find it difficult to standby if we know our patient has a terminal illness and is reaching that point quickly while suffering.
As we cannot take matters into our own hands, we can only advise.
If there has been any miscommunication, I apologize but the fact still remains that Miemi has a serious condition and requires a humane decision to help her in her terminal illness.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me and I hope this answers your queries.
Dr Jean-Paul Ly
Director Animal Recovery Veterinary Center
In the end, Dr Ly never explain to us why Miemi was never taken any blood test during all her chemo injection.
Miemi was still strong before she had her chemo injection.
*An advice to those who are sending their cats for chemotherapy: Please ensure that your cats do a blood test before the chemo injections. Taking blood tests is a must before chemo injection to ensure that the cats are able to take the shot.
Today, Dr Ly from Animal Recovery Veterinary Centre still owes us an explanation.
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