Chemotherapy (May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month)

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My name is Annabelle, and I am the second born child of Dr. Grove. I am a Cocker Spaniel mix and I love going to work with my mom to visit my Crossroads friends. They always give me treats and Dr. Hertel always shares his carrots with me. Anyway, I got off topic there for a minute. Dr. Grove found me many years ago, back when she was in vet school. She tells me she was on the critical care rotation, and part of her job was to evaluate the dogs that had been spayed from the local shelter and were recovering overnight at the hospital. I remember her waking me up to check my belly and take me out. When I saw her, I immediately started scratching like crazy at the cage door, I knew I wanted my forever home to be with her. My mom smartly waited until morning, and THEN called my dad and begged and begged to let me go home with her.

Fast forward through 12 years and 2 kids (my two legged brother and sister), to 2016. A lot has happened this past year. First I broke my tooth (not sure on what, my mom is VERY careful!). I had to have my tooth removed because it was going to cause me problems and pain (my mom is very proactive with me!). Then I developed melanoma (a tumor) on my iris. My eye had to be removed because it was causing me pain. I felt great afterward, and I don’t really care if I am missing an eye! It doesn’t stop me from being my fun-loving self!

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When my family got back from Disney in January 2017, my mom found a new lump. We made the decision together for me to have surgery to remove it. Due to its location (the middle of the back of my thigh), I went to a specialist to have it removed. That can be a tricky location and mom did not want to put her fellow Crossroads doctors in an uncomfortable position. Unfortunately, the results came back positive for cancer. My family and I then had a lengthy discussion and made the decision to pursue chemotherapy. It wasn’t an easy decision based on the risks and the cost and the time involved. But we felt that my quality of life was wonderful and that chemotherapy would maintain that for a long time. I’m 12 years young, I have 2 awesome kids to play with, I knew the benefits of chemotherapy far outweighed the risks. I’m spunky and therefore ready to fight cancer.

People sometimes look at me with the “cancer face”, but then are surprised when I leap around, beg for food and all the other happy things I do. Chemo was a choice for us, and it may be for some of my dog and cat friends some day. It takes a lot of thought, and consideration of the options and outcomes. It may not be for everyone, but it was the right choice for me.

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I encourage anyone who needs help in any medical decision making process to talk to their veterinary team. Even though my mom’s a vet, she got a lot of help along the way from oncologists and other specialists. There is so much to learn, and the staff at Crossroads is happy to point you in the right direction. If your pet gets diagnosed with cancer, they are there to support you and help in any way they can.

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