Canine Hero

Canine Hero

For each PuppyUp Walk, the Event Manager and their Walk Team select both a Human Cancer Hero and a Canine Cancer Hero, to be honored during the Walk ceremonies.

These Heroes are chosen because of their exemplary attitude towards their particular type of cancer, showing bravery and hopefulness in their fight against this terrible disease. One of our Canine Heroes for the 2018 Chicago Walk is Stella. Her story is shown below. 

Stella will be 10 years old in a few weeks. She was adopted by her mama 9 years ago when she was just under a year old. She is a happy and very social mixed breed pit bull.  Her sweet demeanor prompted her mama to foster homeless dogs in need of a place to rest, decompress and get healthy. She’s been an angel with every single one for the last 4 years. Most recently Stella fostered a 9 year old lab who was heart worm positive, underweight and had a severe case of separation anxiety. She was patient, playful and helped him overcome his issues by being his constant companion for 8 months until his forever home was found. Stella is an amazing representation of the breeds people call pit bulls.

During a bi-annual wellness exam a tumor was found in Stella’s anal sac by her regular vet, Dr. Javorski at Kingsbury Banfield. This is a fast metastasizing cancer, but, due to her regular wellness exams, it was caught early. Her surgeon and oncologist, at Premier Veterinary Group, removed the tumor and she underwent chemo. It’s now been a year since her diagnosis, Stella appears to be in remission and beating the odds. She’s made it perfectly clear her work isn’t done here. There are many dogs that need her help to find their forever homes.


Another of our Canine heroes for the 2018 PuppyUp Chicago Walk is Rex.

Rex has had quite a rough year and it all started with a tiny limp. After X-rays we found out he had a type of cancer called Osteosarcoma. Its a very painful type of bone cancer that is very aggressive.  I did all the research I could do and decided his best chance was something called the Listeria Vaccine. Its basically a treatment for the immune system that helps to teach your body how to fight off the cancer. We immediately went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to see if he could possibly be entered into the trial. I felt so lucky when he was accepted, but what followed was the toughest decision of my entire life and that was to amputate my best friends leg. I thought for sure he would hate me for it but I had to try and save his life. I remember the day before the surgery we went to the lake after visiting the vet. We sat by the water eating jimmy John sandwiches while I talked to him about what we were gonna have to do and I could tell he wasn’t ready to give up. After our sandwiches we took a nap in the grass until we were awoken by the rain.

The next morning I dropped him off for surgery and it seemed like the longest day of my life. I got to visit him the very next morning and I couldn’t believe it, he was up, tail wagging and walking around on his own. He was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see him. What followed during his recovery wasn’t good news. The cancer had spread to a lymph node and he was no longer eligible for the trial. We didn’t let this get us down though and started him on chemotherapy.

We’ve done so much since then. We go on walks in the neighborhood, to the woods and to the beach. If I leave the house he goes with me everywhere, to the grocery store and even to Home Depot. It was amazing to see Rex swimming barely 3 weeks after surgery. His very last chemotherapy appointment was this week and we did X-rays for the last time. We got the terrible news that Rex’s cancer has spread to his lungs and we were devastated.

I’m thankful I did my research because I knew there was still hope. I had heard about a trial being done at the University of Illinois for dogs with osteosarcoma that has metastasized to the lungs. We immediately called and made an appointment. I knew Rex really needed a break and I am so thankful they accepted him into their trial as well. This new medicine is supposed to actually help kill the cancer cells and when we get his cancer stabilized we plan to take him to Ohio where another clinical trial is going on to use microwave technology to burn up any tiny tumors that could be left.

Rex is my hero because this experience has been so humbling. This dog with cancer, that’s lost a limb and is going through chemotherapy still has the drive to wag his tail every time I enter the room and to see him sit up just a little bit taller when I pet him just makes me so proud to be his dad.



  • Sunday, April 30, 2017