Hi Molly I hate to relate this again, because I have explained how I came to stumble on Zander’s protocol.
To answer your question directly, it was totally trial and error. I too have a background in sciences and health care, and that played into my experience as well. So here is my summary from one of my first emails to this group: I would like to share what I think is very important information with others who have cats diagnosed with Feline Leukemia. I had a cat with leukemia as a kitten, and he lived to the age of 7 and died from something else that I don’t believe was related to the leukemia. When the vets told me that they could do nothing for him as a kitten dying with leukemia (and he WAS dying - his red cells were dropping down to nothing and I had given him TWO blood transfusions that weren't holding up his numbers to any great degree) then as a last ditch effort, I tried some Winstrol I had in the cupboard that a previous vet had given to me for another cat. This medication turned him completely around. To monitor his condition, we were performing weekly blood tests on him - CBC, liver function, etc. After being put on the Winstrol, his red cells and white cell counts began to climb very quickly and steadily. It was totally amazing and the vets couldn't believe the lab results either. My beautiful little boy was out of the woods in about six months. We were obsessively checking the pinkness of his ears, gums and pads to check the status of his profound anemia, and to our unbelievable joy, he began to get pink and his lab results just kept getting better. After about a year, I called back the internal medicine veterinarian we had seen, and who had told us there was no hope, and told him of our beautiful cat's recovery. To my surprise - and a little bit of anger - he said that I had gone "old school" and that Winstrol used to be used but then there were rumours of possible liver damage associated with it, and vets stopped prescribing it. This REALLY annoyed me. My cat was dying and no one thought that maybe, just maybe, some treatment - even with a potential side effect - was better than no treatment??? In our experience, on a few occasions the liver enzymes would indeed rise, but would drop back down to normal fairly quickly after a short break from the Winstrol. We monitored our beautiful Zander very closely during and after his initial crisis, and if I thought that maybe he was looking pale again, or if the CBC came back with a significantly dropping red cell count, we would put him back on the Winstrol for a 4 to 6 week period, and it would fix him right up. The Winstrol also really helped to increase his appetite so I could get him to eat when he was so very sick. I used it at a level of 1 mg two times a day when he was really sick, and when he started to recover, I cut it back to 1 mg a day, or even 1/2 mg a day for a maintenance dose. That was given along with ½ a tablet of prednisolone, twice a day, and ½ a tablet of 100mg Doxycycline, twice a day. I have looked after a very large number of strays over the years and I have a science and medicine background in science and microbiology and laboratory medicine, so I tested and analyzed the lab results we were getting, using this knowledge. I have since used Winstrol in my cats in a number of other situations where vets have told me there is no hope, and I have to say that it has come through more often than not. I therefore could not understand the reluctance of the veterinary - and medical community for that matter - to consider Winstrol, especially in circumstances where vets are telling pet owners that there are no other options and their kitten or cat will die. I have had to do a fair amount of internet research and spoken to a number of veterinarians about this. I have personally concluded that due to the association of Winstrol with athletic doping scandals, the scientific community as a whole has decided to abandon what might indeed be a promising drug. This saddens me but I simply can see no other explanation. I mean really - does it make sense to hear from vets that the drug MAY cause liver disease, when your animal is dying???? Wouldn't you expect to be given that option in those circumstances, and to be permitted as the pet owner to understand the risks??? Personally, I think that the risk of permanent liver damage is not a significant risk. The information I have been able to find - buried so very deeply as to be almost unable to be found on the Internet - points to any change in the liver enzymes as being transitory and not representing any lasting liver damage. That was certainly our experience. Because Zander's condition was so dire, even when his liver enzymes started to go up, I decided to keep him on the Winstrol because I could see that his bone marrow had turned back on again and he was producing red cells ( with his reticulocyte level starting to go up from basically a zero level). He was eating and looking better, so I grit my teeth and proceeded with the Winstrol. I suspect that many vets might have abandoned ship at that point, and pulled the Winstrol before it had had an opportunity to really have the desired effect, but my vet was at least good enough to recognize that if this treatment didn't work, my cat was out of luck, and she allowed me to continue on with the Winstrol since Zander was doing better in so many other ways. This was also our experience when I used Winstrol in another very elderly cat who had a large and aggressive sarcoma in her sinus cavity, and again who was not expected to live very long. She lived another 3 years after the diagnosis (she was around 19 when she passed away), and I believe that the Winstrol helped immensely in getting her to keep eating, and to keep the swelling under control. With her, we definitely found that her liver enzymes spiked dramatically with the use of the Winstrol, but settled down immediately with a brief discontinuance of the drug. Zander died at age 7 from cardiomyopathy - nothing to do with his liver. I tortured myself with thoughts that maybe the Winstrol had caused the cardiomyopathy, and for all I know, it did. However, again, I did a fair amount of research and initially, I found references to a link between Winstrol and cardiac damage, but the link was pretty tenuous at best, and seemed to be suspected in athletes who had taken Winstrol at 100 X the recommended dosages for years and years. My guilt has never gone away because of course, you never know, but what I do know is that I would have lost him when he was only a year old. If the Winstrol managed to give me 6 more very good years with my cat, who played and was exceptionally affectionate and showed an extreme happiness with his life, then I would have to say I have no hesitation in doing it again. What I find truly bizarre is that given the death sentence that this disease represents to cats, it should be very simple indeed to (a) have vets try the Winstrol and see what their experience is with it (with the proviso that they shouldn’t pull a cat off the Winstrol just because the liver enzymes start to go up) and (b) why haven’t there been some decent clinical trials with this stuff? The cats are zero given probability of surviving this disease. Even if Winstrol only works sometimes, that is better than the odds we are given for these cats at the moment. Since I originally posted this two years ago, I have done more research, so I now have even more information supporting the use of Winstrol and Doxycycline. My original email didn’t mention that before I stumbled on the Winstrol, we had tried using Interferon and LTCI and Immunoregulin. All these treatments were tried for extended periods of time, while simultaneously testing blood work weekly to search for any evidence at all of improvement. None of these treatments budged Zander’s low red cell, haematocrit, and platelet counts. Amani From: Felvtalk [mailto:felvtalk-boun...@felineleukemia.org] On Behalf Of Molly Mou Sent: February-28-17 10:20 AM To: email@example.com Subject: [Felvtalk] Another question(s) about Zander's protocol Thank you Amani, Bob, Sandy and Ardy for your input. I was wondering how did Zander's protocol originate? Was is trial and error or a known remedy? How did 'they' or you know what meds would work for FeLV cats and how was the combination decided? Just wanted some background to give my vet when I talk with her. Thanks again everyone. You are all so supportive! Yes, I do have a medical background. I'm a retired vet tech so I'm glad I have some knowledge of the meds to be used for Mia.
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