Holistic veterinarian Dr. Marty Goldstein isn’t just the vet to the stars (hi Oprah), he’s also a leading expert in integrative medicine for animals. His new book, The Spirit of Animal Healing, is an essential handbook for anyone who wants their pets to lead the most vibrant lives.
To understand the seeming miracles that Dr. Marty has performed, we’re sharing an exclusive excerpt from his book—written by none other than our own Maggie Q about her beloved companion, Cesar.
Be sure to get your copy of The Spirit of Animal Healing. It’s a must-have for any pet owner!
An Unexpected Tail: Dr. Marty, Maggie Q & Cesar
I was driving when I got the call from Marty. I remember I wasn’t far from my house, and my vet and I are close friends who talk all the time, so it wasn’t unusual to get a call from him. We did send out for a biopsy a few days earlier, but I’m the type of person who won’t carry stress about something I don’t know for certain. Animals pick up on everything we feel, and if you are as close to yours as I am to mine, there is no hiding. I remained positive for my boy, and he knew it.
I found the lump on him when I was filming in Atlanta. It didn’t belong where it was, and it was definitely new. I told my dog that we would get it checked out and wouldn’t worry about it until we had to. Even then, we would handle anything that came our way.
As life would have it, it did come our way. It’s cancer, Marty told me.
My heart plummeted into my stomach, and I could feel my whole body seize up with fear. I immediately looked into my rearview mirror to check on Cesar. It was a severe energy shift for me, and I knew he would have picked up on it already.
As I pulled into my driveway and turned off the car, I reached for the release button on the car’s back door. My boy knows not to jump out until he gets the okay, so I said it as enthusiastically as I could so he would go and roam the property and I could take a minute to absorb the conversation I just had. But today, he didn’t. I said okay several more times as the door sat open and he wouldn’t move.
It was clear to me that a conversation was needed, and he wasn’t going anywhere until we had it.
Animals make you accountable in every moment. They are the purest form of instinct and generosity of spirit that I have ever known. I was upset, and my Cesar knew it. He wasn’t going to let me gloss over it the way we humans do. Animals are too honest for that. If there was an issue, we were going to face it right there, together.
I took a deep breath, exited the driver’s seat, and I climbed into the back of the car—unable to hide from my soul partner—and I cried. I told him I didn’t even like if a tick hurt him, much less something more serious. I told him there was an issue with his health and that nothing was going to happen to him because I was going to do everything in my power to help him. I told him how strong he was, and how strong I was, and I meant every word of it.
Over the next several months, Marty and I had many discussions about what treatment would look like for Cesar. I knew that if I had had a different vet, it would have been by the book. Chemo or radiation, surgery, repeat. Pretty standard by Western veterinary methods, but that’s not who I had looking after my boy and me. I had Marty, and I had Meg.
It’s important to understand how these two changed the course of my animal’s health, not only physically but also spiritually and psychologically. They empowered their own deep instincts, which in turn allowed me to trust mine. In that scary time, I found faith that rose above medicine—it was trust in the knowledge and, most of all, the animal itself.
“Animals make you accountable in every moment. They are the purest form of instinct and generosity of spirit that I have ever known.” – Maggie Q
Who trusts an animal to engage in its own healing? Marty does. One of my fondest memories of that time is Marty telling me, “We are going to do everything we can, the rest is up to him.”
One of the most important phone calls of this journey came at the beginning, when Marty said to me, “We’re not going to remove the tumor; now tell me why.”
I remember I stumbled with some talk of the immune system, and he screamed into the phone, “That’s right! We are going to keep his immune system on high alert, and he’s going to live with it. We don’t touch the tumor.”
Now, understand that when a tumor is found, and a doctor tells you that he isn’t touching it, my guess is that most people would be pissed off and think he was too lazy to do his job. Or he’s too smart to do what’s expected. Too instinctual to ignore the immune system’s response to disease. Too insightful to walk us down the road that would surely lead to a life cut short. That precious life that I was desperate to extend, not only to save him, but my own sanity. The thought of losing the love of my life was too much to bear. Certainly not like this.
Cesar went on to be treated, month after month, with the highest level of care and focus. After the first few months, his tumor shrank by about 70 percent. Some- times it was barely noticeable, and Cesar was thriving. Not acting like a sick dog at all, he had boundless energy. Until that day I went into the city . . .
My sister and brother-in-law were staying with me during their summer vacation, and I had errands to run in downtown Manhattan. I was only gone for the day and returned before sundown to grim faces and weighted si- lence. I said to my family, “Where is Cesar?” They replied, “He’s lying down, Maggie, he was falling over all day, and he can’t get himself back up. He’s really weak. It might be the end.”
I remember feeling nothing. I walked right past them and said, “Let me see him.” When I got to my boy, he was quite weak but stood for me anyway, albeit a little wobbly. I greeted him as enthusiastically as I always did, and he lit up. I felt no fear. I told everyone he was fine, and he was allowed to have weak moments. They replied that it wasn’t a moment, it was all day. I didn’t believe it, and neither did Cesar. We silently communicated our strength to each other while eyes darted across the room and elbows were nudged into one another’s sides as if I didn’t understand my own animal. By rights, they weren’t wrong in their assessment. They just didn’t know us, and they certainly didn’t know Marty.
The weakness increased that night, and in the next five days he ran a fever so high his skin was burning in my hands. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t eat or drink. All he could do was allow me to encase him in ice packs and pray the fever would break. Meg and Marty brought all their daughters over, and we set up a mini-hospital in front of my bed. Meg taught me how to change his IV bag and give him rest from the drip when needed. I kept taking his temp on the hour and continued to talk him through what was now extremely clear to all of us.
Cesar was having a healing crisis.
Marty had warned me about this possibility. After the years of holistic treatment and pumping his body with all the “goods,” it could all come to a head and he would have to fight for his life. If he made it out the other side, Marty and Meg told me, he would be fine until the end of his days. If he didn’t, that was just going to be the cost of giving him an extra year of vibrant life instead of a slow and lethargic death. Then Marty also said, “If he does make it, don’t be surprised if that tumor gets even smaller.”
I never left my boy’s side, and in my heart I had no fear. I told him, and myself, “This isn’t the end.” I told him his body was fighting for the other side, and as Marty said, it would be up to him. I told him I was ready for anything, but that in my heart I was certain he was coming back to me.
Then, on day five, the fever broke. Cesar stood. I cried the kind of tears that only faith brings. Faith in Marty, and his wisdom. Faith in Meg and her support. Faith in their girls for their unending compassion. Faith in the love and trust in the miracle of the method.
Cesar lived with cancer and his tumor still in his body— but even smaller after his crisis—for the next two and a half years. He enjoyed vibrant health, and our years to- gether were the best years of his life with me. A German shepherd, he died at the age of sixteen. He never lived another sick day in his life; this was the definition of the long game—a vision for wellness that extends beyond the medical profession and into the spirit of who we are and what we value.
If you want to heal, you first have to believe in healing.
You must see it and live it in all that you do. This is who Marty is, and whom I have been blessed to know as not only my doctor, but as my family. The Goldsteins never gave up on my boy, and I am forever in their debt for giving me the gift of his life.
As Marty journeys forward into “retirement,” his dreams and his family’s dreams for him are finally coming true. I know that I have always seen him as leading the veterinary medical establishment in a different direction. One that will change the course of animal welfare forever. He will do it, and all I know is . . . I’m entirely blessed to witness it.
Watch out, world, here comes trouble! Love you, Marty!