This is the Story of Max Auer
Max Auer, a ten-year-old Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with a high-grade hemangiopericytoma tumor on his left elbow in June of 2010. He was treated at one of ACI’s oncology network sites, Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. His treatment lasted roughly five weeks before his cancer was shown to be in remission. His treatment at Red Bank consisted of a full course (nineteen treatments) of radiation, every day Monday through Friday. Concurrently, Max received chemotherapy four times a week for three weeks. The treatment was effective for approximately three months. On October 19, 2010 Max suffered a recurrence of his cancer, and was entered into an ACI clinical trial in November.
An investigational therapy comes with uncertainty, but at this time, Max’s owners said they wanted to do everything they could to treat their dog while maintaining his quality of life. During the trial, the treatment minimized the appearance of the lump (the malignant tumor). Although the tumor’s size was reduced, it did not stop the cancer completely. Eventually, in December of that year, Max’s leg required amputation.
Max has been cancer-free since the operation, and is now a certified therapy dog. His owners are very pleased with his recovery, and plan for him to visit the oncology wards of local hospitals. He may also visit programs for autistic children. The Auer family hopes that Max can serve as an inspiration for all cancer patients, both human and canine. They are very grateful to the Red Bank veterinary community for their support and the opportunity to participate in this clinical trial.
This is the Story of Kobi
Kobi was a 3-year old, tri-colored collie I got from a rescue. He was our first family dog, and a wonderful addition to our family. He stayed true to the collie temperament and we had the most memorable 7 years with Kobi. A few days before Thanksgiving 2009, I had noticed a swelling on his mouth, and had taken him to get it checked out. After a week of antibiotics the swelling had not gone down, so the veterinarian ran a test. He soon informed me it was cancer. Kobi was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, and was given 3 months to live. I did not have many options; it was either treatment in NY, which would cost thousands of dollars, or enjoy him for the next few months and provide him with a life of love and comfort. Although it was a hard decision, I chose not to seek medical treatment, knowing that any treatment would only prolong the inevitable. That Thanksgiving was a very difficult time, knowing he wouldn’t be with us the next year. That said, we were grateful for the time.
A week later I received a call from my vet, telling me about a clinical trial that was testing a new treatment for cancer for dogs. They were curious as to whether I would be willing to talk to the folks at the oncology and hematology center (Oncovet) in Norwalk, to see if I would want to participate. As soon as I was off the phone with my vet, I called the office in Norwalk and set up an appointment to meet with their team of vets and staff. While I know that no cure for cancer has been found, I wanted to know if this trial would help to understand and treat this illness, and maybe someday help to eradicate cancer from the world.
After meeting with the folks at Oncovet, I was happy to enroll Kobi into this trial. As much as Kobi was doing his part in the treatment, our family was also involved in documenting his progress through the series of treatments for the next 4 months. These four months were difficult for all of us, including some of Kobi’s reactions to the medication, but through the care provided by Oncovet and love from everyone involved we kept on, knowing our experience would someday help toward the cure for cancer for dogs.
After the 4-month trial, Kobi’s cancer “burden” was greatly reduced, and I knew that this trial had extended Kobi’s life. For the next 18 months, Kobi lived a full and fun life; we cherished every moment we had with him. Sadly one weekend, it came to a sudden end. Just a day before, he was out in the backyard running around with me and my kids, and the next morning, he was all worn-out. He wouldn’t eat and just laid down breathing heavily. The next day I took him to the vet’s office and they did an x-ray on his stomach, which showed a large gray mass. Knowing his previous condition, the veterinarian was sure it was cancer. He gave me some medication to ease the pain that Kobi could be experiencing, and told me it was a matter of time before the end. That night, as Kobi lay on his favorite bed, each of us prayed with him and said our goodbyes. I pulled a sleeping bag next to him, and prepared to spend the night with him. I knew he was not going to make it through the night – his breathing got shallower as the night progressed, and around 2am I could not hear his breathing anymore. I reached over to him, resting my ear to his chest, and I knew he had passed on.
We had Kobi cremated, and a print of his paw taken in clay. My family and I are ever so grateful for the opportunity we were given through this clinical trial, and for giving us 18 more precious months with Kobi. Kobi is not with us any longer, but we know that through his life not only did he give us love, but a chance that someday other dogs may not have to go through what he did.
- The Masilamani family