Sampson's Story of Courage


Type of Cancer: Mast Cell

Sampson first came into Don and Mary’s life in February 2000, at just 4 weeks old.  Even as a puppy, this harlequin Great Dane was a regal presence.  Although his life began in a puppy mill, he was destined to join a family that would cherish him for each day of the rest of his life.  He immediately stole his dad Don’s heart and became his best friend and constant companion. 

Sampsonpuppy.jpgSampson has always loved going for long walks and one of his favorite pastimes is lying in the warm sunshine to soak up as much fresh air as possible.  But first and foremost, Sampson loves kids.  In fact, Don says, “he has never met a child that he has not attached himself to. When he was not quite 2 years old and our first granddaughter was born, I brought Spirit (our fawn girl who passed in 2001 from bloat) and Sampson into our kitchen.  My granddaughter was in her car seat and I set her on the kitchen floor and told the animals that ‘this is Kobee and you are to watch over her and protect her no matter what.’”

“Well, needless to say, Sampson took that to heart and from that day forward when the grandkids are here (and I now have 13 of them) he is in the height of his glory. Although they are all old enough now that they do not need to be watched over, he still thinks he has to be right in the center of it all. Even if it is just to lie down and let them pet him.”

For most of his life, Sampson was a happy, active and perfectly healthy pup.  Until the first bump appeared.

In October 2007, Don noticed the first tumor on Sampson’s left back leg, midway between the paw and elbow joint.  He had major surgery to remove it, and thankfully, the news came back that it was benign.  It was a huge relief.  The vet said to keep a close eye on him for any new growths, but this time the news was very good. 

In summer of 2009 though, all of Don’s original fears came true when, at 9 years old, Sampson was diagnosed with Stage 3 Mast Cell Cancer.  It had been spotted when Don noticed six tumors suddenly arise on Sampson’s body – one on the right front haunch just above the elbow joint, one lower on the same side, one on the right back thigh on the inside, and 2 from the chest. Only one was of any great size -- most were small like a tapioca ball, but one was the size of a penny.

At first concerned, Don knew something was very wrong when the tumors grew significantly within just a matter of days, and took him to the vet, where they were promptly removed and sent to the pathologist for testing.  According to the vet, Sampson’s future looked grim.  Don asked about the new drug that was coming out to treat Mast Cell Cancer (Palladia), hoping that might be an option, but unfortunately, the vet said that this drug wouldn’t be available until the middle of 2010, and in his opinion, Sampson would be gone long before then.  His recommendation for Don was to ‘not get his hopes up” and to just make Sampson comfortable with whatever time he had left. 

Luckily, that response didn’t sit well with Don, and he refused to accept losing Sampson without a fight.  As he recalls, “I went to my sacred place, the place I go to pray, and had a talk with the Great Spirit. Then, like a voice, I was told to help Sampson with the plant beings that Mother Earth has provided for me.” 

Since Sampson’s original vet was opposed to any and all herbal and homeopathic remedies, Don sought the advice of an herbalist to get Sampson on a regimen of supplements to help strengthen his immune system and slow down the progression of the cancer.

On January 27, 2009, Sampson was started on an herbal remedy of Red Clover Extract blended with Buchu and Greasewood, in pure distilled water.  Don started out giving him 2 tablespoons of this remedy each day, and then tapered down to one tablespoon, mixed with yogurt.  The results were nothing short of amazing.  Within 7 weeks, the tumors that had reoccurred after the surgery had dissipated, and he began showing signs of improvement. 

In addition to working with the herbalist to refine Sampson’s protocol, Don also credits his faith for helping him and Sampson through this battle with cancer.  He explained at the time, “Everyday I go into prayer for him.  I burn sage tobacco and corn meal -- the sacred mix of the Native Americans -- and I pray for his health.  I know this might sound a little far-fetched, but...I see the results, and I believe that the Great Spirit and the herbs from the Mother Earth are what have given Sampson his energy back, his puppylike attitude, and his willingness to want to play.”

Flash forward to 2011.  On January 8, Sampson the Great Dane celebrated his 11th birthday, still healthy and going strong.  No one has been more surprised than Sampson’s vet, who called Don recently to apologize after realizing that the clinic had ‘accidentally’ sent out an appointment reminder card for his annual checkup and shots.  Apparently, he hadn’t received the news that Sampson had no intention of letting cancer win, despite his original prognosis.  So, Don was able to happily inform the vet that Sampson was still very much alive and kicking.

Looking back, Don says, “I’ve sent a lot of smoke and prayers to the Great Spirit on his behalf, and am grateful for the herbal remedy that I was fortunate enough to obtain.”  And because of Sampson’s journey with cancer, even the skeptical vet has seen firsthand that “yes, the herbs of Mother Earth do work, and we do not always need conventional medicine to do the work.  Although there are ways that Sampson is showing his age, and his gait is not as youthful as it was before, my boy is still among us and still bringing joy to our lives.” 

And for this, we are all very grateful.  

This website is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinary professional, and is for informational purposes only.   Please seek the advice of your veterinarian or a veterinary specialist before giving your dog any supplements or pursuing any alternative cancer therapies. 

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