Shilo's Tale - a struggle against Leukemia by Kirk Heckel.

Kirk's Shilo

Information about Shilo was last updated on this page on August 26, 2003

The story of Kirk Heckel and his dog Shilo and their struggles with Leukemia.

    Hello, my name is Kirk Heckel from Coon Rapids Minnesota. Shilo is my Golden Retriever and currently he is 4 years old. My other dog "Woodson" is a Border Collie Springer mix. When I woke up on the morning of March 1st, 1999 Shilo looked at me and immediately I knew that he was ill. Most people can tell when their own kids are ill. Shilo is like my own kid and I could tell by just looking at him that he was sick. My roommate, Tim Brown, told me that Shilo had thrown up and was shaking the night before. Shilo felt very warm to the touch so I made an appointment with my vet. The veterinarian told me that Shilo had a temp of 104° (101° is normal for a dog). She prescribed an antibiotic called Baytril. By now Shilo had lost most of his appetite and had very little energy. I took Shilo home and waited to see what would happen. The Baytril didn't appear to be working and Shilo's temperature was increasing. You could feel the heat by touching his nose and all he wanted to do was sleep. Shilo didn't even want to give any kisses and normally Shilo is really affectionate. Later that night when Shilo didn't improve I took him into the 24-hour emergency clinic.


    The staff at the clinic took Shilo's temperature and found it had increased 106°. A temperature of 107° can be fatal to dogs. The clinic staff was so alarmed that they decided to start intravenous antibiotics immediately. Shilo had to stay overnight at the emergency clinic. The clinic staff performed a CBC blood test and the results concerned them because it showed a very low white cell count (these cells help fight infection) and a low red cell count (red cells bring oxygen to the body from the lungs). Shilo was also diagnosed as borderline anemic since his platelets were not clotting properly; this can lead to internal and external bleeding. The main goal was to get his fever down. I was forced to leave Shilo at the clinic Friday night and most of the weekend. I visited him a lot and let me tell you, I was really scared and thought he might not pull through. At the time I thought this was all due to a really nasty bacterial infection or virus. Sunday morning I went to back to visit. When the staff took Shilo's temperature it was normal. I was so happy and relieved that the worst was over. I soon found out that the war for my baby dog's life had just begun. The emergency clinic veterinarians recommended that I take Shilo back to see my vet as soon as possible since they had no idea what had caused this episode. The staff also discussed with me about the possibility of taking him to the University Of Minnesota to have a bone marrow test performed. I was still hoping that it was just a bad virus and Shilo would get better as time passed. The clinic gave me 3 days worth of strong antibiotics for Shilo because his cell counts were still extremely low and discharged him. After 3 days at home the antibiotics ran out and then the fever started climbing again. I went back to my own my vet and she had no answers for me. A tick test proved negative. By now I had to face the reality that Shilo had something much more serious than a bacterial infection or virus. It was time to take him to The University Of Minnesota location of the best animal hospital in the state and many of the best veterinarians with access to the most updated equipment.

    By now I was very scared because I had the feeling Shilo might have something like cancer. I kept asking the vets "Could this be cancer"? They would tell me "it's possible but highly unlikely since Shilo is so young". On March 17th 1999 I made an appointment with The University Of Minnesota. I had to make arrangements with my employer to get vacation leave. Fortunately they were very understanding. I told them my dog was sick and I had to find out what was the problem. I owed Shilo that much and more. He has brought so much love into my life along with my other dog Woodson. Woodson and Shilo are two soul mates and the thought of losing either one was just unthinkable! March 17th arrived and I took Shilo to U OF M Hospital. The people at the hospital were really nice. They thought that Shilo might have an immune disease of some kind or a blood problem, some cases like that can be treated. A bone marrow test was performed. It's not as bad as it sounds and goes smoothly if performed by vets with a lot of experience doing the procedure. I would strongly recommend to anyone that if your dog is sick and your vet can't figure out what the problem is they should have a bone marrow test done to help determine what your dealing with. In hindsight, however, I truly believe that you shouldn't need to get to that point. Prevention is the way to go since it's much less expensive and it can save your dog's life. Before you read any further, if your dog is sick GET YOUR DOG ON FLAX OIL AND VITAMINS! Then, maybe, you won't have to go through the nightmare I went through.

Shilo, "Please don't stare at me".

    Shilo's fever was now up to 105 ° so he was placed back on intravenous antibiotics. The goal was to get his fever down and then do the bone marrow test on the following day. They assured me that Shilo would be fully anesthetized during the procedure and would not experience any pain. On Friday around 5:00 p.m. I received the worst news I could have received. The veterinarian called and said Shilo had Leukemia. His bone marrow was producing cancer cells. I haven't cried so hard in a long time. My roommate and my girlfriend were crying too. I felt like someone had stuck a knife through my heart. The vet said Shilo would need to be put on a drug called Predizone, which would temporarily fight the cancer cells. She said he might live for another 30 to 40 days. I asked her if there was any hope of a recovery and she said "I'm sorry but Leukemia is terminal for most animals - there is no cure". We talked about chemotherapy, which could put the Leukemia into remission, but for only 6 months or so. Then the Leukemia would come back with a vengeance and chemo has nasty side effects like hair loss and vomiting, etc. At this point I can say that March 18th 1999 was the worst day of my life. That night my roommate, my girlfriend and I went to visit Shilo. While we were visiting with him he was so happy to see us but I could tell he was really sick of being pricked and poked at and just plain sick of being in the hospital. There were shaved spots on his legs and butt and I said to my self "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH". I could never put him through chemo or any more torture. It would be over my dead body. My friend Tim and I decided that we would make Shilo as comfortable as possible at home and when the time came and he was in too much pain I would have him put to sleep. Then he would be with God. But as we would soon find out God didn't want Shilo in heaven just yet.

    That night I went driving around and stopped at a Taco Bell restaurant. I was hungry but really didn't have the appetite to eat. Then I thought "what the heck am I doing here, I'm a vegetarian"! I talked to God and asked him for help. I didn't want an easy way out, just a chance to fight this. That night my prayers came true. I went home and Tim and I got on the Internet and found a web page called "Shirley's Wellness Café" - Shirley is a lady that believes in holistic medicine for animals and people. She doesn't sell anything; it's just a labor of love. On her web page I read about Flax Oil and cottage cheese. Let me tell you about a man named Cliff Beckwith, see his web site - He was diagnosed with stage 4 prostrate cancer in 1991 and is still alive and doing well. The doctors told him that he should have died in 1991. Cliff started taking Flax Oil with cottage cheese to treat his terminal cancer disease at home. He read a book by a German scientist "Johanna Budwig" who had cured more than 1000 people with Flax Oil and cottage cheese. Cliff started telling people who had Cancer at his church and other places and he kept in contact with these people. If you want to read their testimonials it's on Cliff's or Shirley's web page. One testimonial was of a person who's dog had Cancer and he gave his dog 3 tablespoons of Flax Oil mixed with with cottage cheese every day and his dog recovered from the Cancer. I looked at my roommate, Tim, and we both smiled for the first time in weeks. Finally we felt there might be hope for Shilo, the war was not over yet. The Cancer may have won round 12345 but I was coming back swinging and as far as I was concerned it wasn't over until the fat dog sings! On the morning of Saturday, March 19th, 1999 I picked up Shilo from the hospital. The vets had really depressed me, telling me that Shilo was anemic could bleed to death. I had to remove all sharp objects at home to be certain Shilo didn't cut himself. I also had to check his stool for dark tar-like spots. If that showed up it was a sign of internal bleeding.

Shilo - "Wow am I handsome or what?"

    When Shilo came home he was exhausted with no appetite and had diarrhea. He was on 50 mg of Predizone and 500mg of antibiotics. Around 3:00 p.m. I gave him his first tablespoon of Flax Oil mixed with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese. Shilo didn't want it at first since he had no appetite so my roommate and I had to force it down him. Shilo is very good natured and well behaved so he didn't make a big fuss about it. An hour later he started to get some energy back. He went outside and rolled around in the back yard. That night I went to Barnes & Noble bookstore and bought a book called "Beating Cancer with Nutrition" by Patrick Quillin. I really recommend it to everyone. The book talks about how different vitamins can help fight Cancer. I started putting Shilo on Vitamin E with Selenium, a multi-vitamin, vitamin C, Genistein (mega soy) grape seed extract, and garlic. Most of the vitamin dosages were for people so I cut them in half. Shilo's energy level really picked up and by Sunday he was eating the Flax Oil and cottage cheese by himself. I gave him 1 tablespoon of Flax Oil mixed well with 1/4-cup of cottage cheese every 8 hours (3 doses daily).

    Wednesday, March 23, 1999 Shilo went back to the hospital for a blood test. The vets were hoping that his white cell count would be up so they could talk about starting chemotherapy. They never expected to find what I knew in my heart, Shilo was Cancer Free! They took blood from him and did a test. The oncologist came in and said, "this is amazing", and he was looking at Shilo's blood on a smear. All he could see was white cells, red blood cells, and platelets clotting and no Cancer cells. They ran a full scale CBC Blood test and called me at home, and the intern (Kara) was excited. She said, "Shilo is a normal dog. His white cell count is above normal, his red cell count is normal, and his platelets are clotting normal and WE CAN'T FIND ONE CANCER CELL IN HIS BLOOD". On March 23, 1999 Shilo was cancer free.

    April 24th 1999, Shilo went in for another CBC Blood test and it came back Cancer Free too! The Predizone he was on had caused respiration problems and made him drink a lot of water. Shilo had started urinating in the house so I decided to start weaning him off the drug. It is now October 16th and Shilo is still cancer free. He celebrated his 4th birthday on September 17th, 1999 and his buddy Woodson turned 5 on September 14th. Shilo is doing great, he loves his bone treats and is spoiled constantly. He's really a nut and a mad kisser again too but seems very happy. I still give Shilo Flax Oil mixed with cottage cheese every day along with his vitamins. Woodson gets Flax Oil and cottage cheese as well for prevention. I want to thank Cliff Beckwith and Shirley's Wellness Café for all of their help and support. I also want to thank my friend Tim Brown from the bottom of my heart for helping me give Shilo his pills and Flax Oil mixture. Thanks too to Pam "Carnivore" Lawrence for helping to baby sit Shilo, Tim's Mom and his sister-in-law Bonnie for their prayers, and the vets who took excellent care of Shilo, and of course God for answering my prayers. I also want to thank Ron Conley for sharing his story about Natasha and starting Natasha's Cancer Fight Newsletter and giving me the opportunity to write my story about Shilo and our experiences. Shilo and Woodson say "Thank you".

Woodson & Friend (Kirk's Nephew)

Premiered April 9, 1999.

Updates From Kirk and Shilo:

September 19, 2000: Hi everyone!  Shilo and Woodson are doing great. Shilo had a CBC blood test done in March 2000 and everything was good. Shilo is still taking Flaxseed Oil and Cottage Cheese plus his vitamins, and so is Woodson. Everyone that sees Shilo and Woodson comment on how healthy they look. Shilo just celebrated his 5th birthday.  He was born Sept 17th, 1995 and Woodson was born on Sept 14, 1994. I am having a little party for them this weekend {Pig Ears, Bones, and a Dairy Queen Cake}.  (To the Conleys:) I hope you and your family are doing fine. I am glad to hear that Natasha is doing pretty good considering her age. (Natasha says some people should stop while they are ahead). Shilo and Woodson think she's a pretty Hot Babe so tell Natasha that . (Well, Natasha decided Kirk's Ok after all). Take care , Kirk

August 19, 2003 : Shilo and Woodson are doing really well. Shilo is still getting his flaxoil and vitamins with his cottage cheese. Take care , Kirk Heckel

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Graphic Read Version of Shilo's Tale

Natasha's Cancer Fight Newsletter

Shilo's Tale | Jesse's Story | Misty's Journey | Niki's Odyssey | Doggie Dinner | CRF Canine Renal Failure | Vaccinosis Story

This page was last updated on October 18, 2006

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