February 4 is World Cancer Day – a day to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. Many of you may know that my miniature Schnauzer, Parker, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 6, and thankfully, he still with us at the age of 13. This cause is near and dear to my heart.
When cancer affects a loved one, it is devastating for everyone. Cancer doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone: men, women, children, cats, dogs, and even other pets. Any pet owner who has had a beloved diagnosed with cancer knows the difficult task of understanding what it means; wondering how their pet feels; figuring out the best options; and coming to terms with the magnitude of it all.
When we bring a beloved pet into our homes, we not only make a choice to share our love and give them a home, we make a commitment to take care of them to the best of our ability, and to meet their needs. And when a cancer diagnosis is given, there are many things to consider and sometimes difficult decisions that need to be made. None of these are to be taken lightly.
Do you get a second opinion? Do you need to send your pet to see a veterinary oncologist? Will surgery alone be enough of a treatment? The questions can seem endless. Different animals, and different breeds are prone to different types of cancers – so educating yourself is important. There are many resources to help you understand best what a diagnosis means and what the best outcome will be. Your vet is the first resource and will provide the best outlook and options for your pet.
In addition, there is the Veterinary Cancer Society, a non-profit organization comprised of veterinarians dedicated to veterinary cancer. Their website, www.vetcancersociety.org contains a wealth of information to help pet owners understand cancer and steps to take with the pets for treatment.
The best medicine is prevention. The best thing we can do for our pets is to make sure they are fed well, get plenty of exercise, love and attention, and receive regular check-ups and vaccinations.
I am so grateful that Parker’s abdominal mass was successfully removed via surgery, I have decided to do my small part in helping to ease the pain of pet owners who are dealing with cancer. With the support of Dr. Stacy Texieria at Montrose Animal Health Center, I have decided to give away a free photo session every quarter (including a photo album) to a family whose pet has been diagnosed with cancer. My wish is that whether the outcome is favorable or not, at least I might be able to provide a few moments of relief from the stress and a lifetime of memories to remember.
Our pets are a loving part of our family. Go give your pup or kitty a hug and a kiss today!