Jill K. on Birdeye
2 years ago
05/05/2021, 21:01 PM
I am deeply thankful for Dr. Arkens at the Glendale location for taking this case quickly and advocating for a quick CT and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Although I didn't know it at the time his oral tumor was "large"-and from their standpoint I don't think this case for them has/had a good prognosis because of the extent of it occupying my vizsla's right jaw. I knew it was a Hail Mary and I appreciate Arkens taking a chance on us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Otherwise, my goal in writing this review is in hopes that patients will read it and be better prepared for cancer, cancer treatment and how this office operates. That's my only intention here, to help others navigate this deeply sad, confusing and complex life challenge of having a pet with cancer. Here are 3 key components to grasp, followed by some humble advice on how to succeed where I didn't.
1...The first thing you have to recognize is that pet oncology is Big Medicine-and this office is no different. What that means is that layers of poor communication, clinical culture and a general lack of understanding of the pet (and their owner) pervade your treatment here. This is because SRS equipment and those trained to use it are not common-so in this case you have Pet Cure Oncology (a corporation of investors), MidWestern University (a massive training facility for vets) and Arizona Veterinary Oncology are all part of your animal's care with different competing demands. $12,000 is the entry price for treatment and an SRS machine costs millions. These all add up to varying constraints that can preclude these 3 entities from seeing you as a unique patient and more like...well...a service they perform.
2...These are specialists (and I have a met several) and NOT working vets. A working vet typically owns their own practice and is a generalist that works 6 days a week, calls you personally at 8PM to prescribe, soothe your anxiety, and generally care for your dog/cat. Their is an empathetic and caring connection to you as the owner. Not to generalize but you can recognize specialists by how they dress. Yes, they wear tailored skinny pants and dress shoes and well...look cool and professional (I worked in medicine and I looked like this as well!) In general they don't work weekends, they speak in unhelpful and unsympathetic clinical language and relay information through young vet techs even when your pet is seriously ill-but NEVER after 5PM (are you crazy the work day is finished-LOL). There is lots of explanations for this but I imagine delegation is believed to alleviate the demands of endless clients seeking specialists. You work with lots of young women techs at this practice (many who don't know your pet) to rope off the vet for competing demands that sadly don't apparently include you.
3...There is sparse after-care following SRS. In fact, Arkens chose to never see my pet before or during treatment. Part of this is understandable, in human hospitals radiation is not performed by the oncologist, it's by a highly-trained tech. They recognized that their will be side effects but their was no planning for the medications that were 100% NECESSARY to alleviate the suffering my dog experienced after 3 rounds of radiation. I did my best using baby aspirin, numbing throat spray before my working vet stepped in to put my dog on a strong pain killer, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory. Thank God for him.
OK so what to do-
1. Accept the limitations described above-SO YOU CAN focus on the outcome of your pet getting better. If you want SRS or any oncology treatment, your options are very, very limited. Just know what you want for your pet and stay true to it. This mind trick will keep you on track to advocate for your pet while being treated instead of feeling victimized by the process.
2. You don't know what you don't know. So you have to ask as many questions as you can (even when you are sad or overwhelmed by your animal's care). Please see full review on Yelp.