When Brady, an 11-year-old, mixed breed yellow Labrador, presented to his primary care veterinarian with a lump on his right hind leg in May 2014, it did not appear to be anything of concern. However, after surgery and biopsy results, owner Kory Haag heard the words no pet owner wants to hear: Brady had a high- grade mast cell tumor and would have about six months to live. That was when Kory made an appointment with the oncology specialists at Foster Hospital to explore if there were other treatments they should pursue.
For Kory Haag, it was an instinctual decision to bring Brady to Foster Hospital. He had previously brought his dog there for the treatment of epilepsy and was pleased with the care received.
Brady had the opportunity to see not one but two of the oncology residents, Kelly Kezer, BVSc, and Bobbi McQuown, DVM, who both consulted on his case. Testing was completed and Brady underwent further surgery to ensure all the cancer cells had been removed. Brady then received an injectable chemotherapy agent once a week for four weeks, which was administered on site at Foster Hospital. He was subsequently transitioned to an oral small molecule inhibitor that targets a mutation found to be present on Brady’s mast cell tumor. Individuals bring their pets to an academic veterinary medical center because they offer a comprehensive, one-stop resource for high-caliber, advanced and specialty veterinary services. That includes access to the latest research and leading edge treatments available.
For Brady, this presented an opportunity to take part in a study exploring the impact of a novel diet in dogs with cancer. Cancer is far too often diagnosed in older dogs and it is becoming more common for owners to treat their pets with chemotherapy. The goal of the study was to determine whether a specially formulated diet might reduce the gastrointestinal side effects that can accompany chemotherapy and improve their quality of life.
It was easy,” said Kory. “I merely filled out an enrollment form and was provided the food to feed Brady. It involved giving Brady a certain number of calories per day and was limited to specific treats. I also had to document what he ate as well as his bowel movements and it was all done online.”
Brady adapted well to the diet and easily transitioned to a commercial brand of food after the study was completed.
It is now almost eight months since Brady’s cancer diagnosis and Brady has a new leash on life, enjoying a very active lifestyle with ongoing therapy. While the collective results of the diet study will not be available for another year, Brady’s ultrasounds and blood work have been consistently favorable. Dr. Kezer remarked at how amazed she is when she hears about the hikes that owner Kory and Brady continue to take, including mountain climbs.
And Kory can’t say enough about the caring staff at Foster Hospital. When he recently discovered another small lump on Brady’s leg in January, he grew concerned. Within two days, he was scheduled to see Dr. McQuown and fortunately it turned out to be just fatty tissue. He also commented on how accommodating the staff was in scheduling Brady’s chemotherapy since he was traveling from Holyoke.
As the only academic veterinary center in New England, we are dedicated to providing care in a compassionate environment to heal the animals we see each and every day. For Brady, that offered the chance to get all of his services in one place, including his surgery, chemotherapy administration and ongoing medical follow-up. What is highly encouraging for pet owners is the exploratory research studies that we offer that provide hope, a better quality of life and additional time that companion pets can spend with their families.