• Dr. Katie Woodley

How Cancer Changed our Lives

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

I have a confession to make....yes all three of my pets have or had and died from cancer. This truth has been very hard for me to deal with as a holistic veterinarian. I advise people on how to help their pets thrive naturally and achieve their best health and here I am with three pets that I haven’t been able to save or prevent from developing cancer.

However, if I only focused on the fact that they developed cancer and I didn’t fix them, then how could I help other people’s pets. There are also so many unknowns to pets and people developing cancer. What is the environment like, emotional state, stressors, diet, toxins from environment, vaccines, drugs, and so many other factors that we cannot always control.

So if I continued to blame myself and question why I let this happen, then I would not be focused on the right path of how do I help my pets feel their best for as long as possible.


I see and hear so many pet owners doing this to themselves when they get the dreaded cancer diagnosis for their pets. What did I do wrong? Did I cause this? And they go down this path of feeling horrible and wondering what would have happened if they had found it sooner. I totally get it, because I have been there too and felt the same way with my own pets. However, let’s change our mindset to one of healing and health even with the condition they have. So how do we do this?

I’m a true believer in the power of our mindset. What we focus on in our lives is what we get. If you see anger and hardship everywhere, you will in turn receive anger and hardship back in your life. However, if we choose to find positivity and happiness, we will receive that in return. Not only do you feel like a happier person in return, but there are actually physiological changes that occur in your body which can induce healing! How cool is that?!


Our mindsets can have a huge influence on our pet‘s wellbeing too. Have you ever noticed your pet get upset when you raise your voice, or get sad and snuggle with you when you are crying? Our pets are very intune with our emotions which means we can induce a stress response in them when we are stressed. Not conducive to healing at all!

So what are 5 things we can do to help our pets:


1. Believe that the treatments are effective and working

Countless times I have seen medication not work, especially conventional treatments, because the pet parent did not believe in it. There is something called a Placebo Effect and it has actually been proven by countless studies. Treatment will naturally become more effective just by us believing that the treatment is going to work!


2. Start a gratitude journal

Yes, you, not your pet! We should be focusing on at least 3 things that we are grateful for EVERY SINGLE DAY! This is even better if you can do it right before bed, because it will help you sleep better. Feeling grateful for even just a beautiful sunrise, being able to take a walk, hug our pets, and so many more things in our lives has such a profound effect on our well-being that it naturally spills over into our pets. I am grateful for my dog, Finn, every day and make sure to tell him that constantly!


3. Live a purpose filled life

Does work give you purpose? Or do you volunteer for an organization that provides a sense of purpose for you? Make sure that there are things in your life that give you purpose. Studies have shown that people will live longer when they focus on their purpose in life. I love being able to help pets by providing them with access to holistic care and knowledge, and this is something I strive to do everyday!


4. Be optimistic

Once again, mindset is everything! My life changed when I focused on staying optimistic and looking at life differently. I try to view everything as my glass is 1/2 full versus 1/2 empty and wow the difference that has made to my life has been dramatic. You are actually less likely to get sick, which makes you feel better and gives you more energy to share your powers with the world!


5. Be present with our pets

There are so many times that we are too busy to give our pets the attention they need. They LOVE us no matter what so make sure we give them the things they love too. Whether its taking them for that walk at the end of the day they have been waiting for or it’s going to the river to have a swim. We may be tired and not have enough energy but remember, we will gain energy by doing these activities with our pets. By being present with our pets, we will also pick up on illness faster, hopefully before it becomes too late to treat it.

So even though, my own fur family has been plagued by cancer these past three years, I choose to focus on how it can make me be a better veterinarian so I can not only help my own pets live for as long as possible with good quality of life, but also how I can serve my own clients better. Blaming myself or questioning if I am good enough will not help anyone, so I choose to grow and stay optimistic. I know my pets are living longer with their diagnosis than they would have if I wasn’t able to do what I am able to do. Losing our pets can actually be one of the hardest things that we will ever experience in our lives. But my pets’ memories have shaped who I am, and I choose to honor their greatness every single day!


Much love,

Dr. Katie


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