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.


Winston’s Story

We adopted Winston when he was just shy of three years old from his first family who could no longer keep him.   Putting his strikingly handsome appearance aside, Winston’s personality, cuddliness and expressive eyes won us (and everyone he meets) over in mere moments. We quickly fell in love with him and him with us. He is the most loyal miniature-schnauzer you could ever meet.

After moving to Nashville a few years ago we began to take Winston on short hikes to explore the sort of nature we didn’t see back in Southern California.  Winston enjoyed his walks to Hidden Lake and through the Warner Parks.  Earlier this year we began to see Winston get very tired very quickly and even had a bit of a scare after a simple stroll around the block when Winston was so winded and weak that he simply couldn’t proceed at all on the walk.  Fortunately he recovered that day but we knew something wasn’t quite right. Around this time Winston was also having a hard time keeping his meals down.  There was no rhyme or reason for his sudden and inconsistent illness.  Several visits to our vet and many adjustments and changes to Winston’s diet seemed to get us nowhere.  Finally, our vet recommended taking a couple ultrasounds as he was stumped and felt he needed to get a better look inside.

Dad went to pick Winston up after his ultrasound appointment that afternoon and when the nurse asked him to go to an exam room to wait for the doctor he know it wasn’t good news.  The doctor explained there was a lemon-sized tumor growing on Winston’s left adrenal gland.  He said it was very close to his kidney and his vena cava (the main vein that runs to his heart) but due to the size he wasn’t certain if it had attached to either.  This news was devastating.  Dad had just lost his own mother to cancer this past December and Winston had been one of his “shoulders” to lean on as he dealt with his own grief. He couldn’t imagine losing his little best friend in the same way, and most certainty didn’t know how he was going to tell Mom.

The vet stated that removing the mass sooner than later would be the best way to proceed as he believed this tumor was rapidly growing.  He recommended a specialist to perform this surgery as it is a very high risk and specialized operation.  We quickly met with the oncologist and surgeon who explained that we could try treatments to slow the growth of the tumor, but doing so may only prolong his life 6 months or a year and that removing the tumor was essentially the only chance for Winston to have a shot at a few, if not many, more years of life. We decided to proceed with surgery and scheduled a date.  We took Winston on a little road trip through Georgia and South Carolina in the week prior to his surgery of course hoping this would not be our last trip together, but knowing there was a very good chance it may be.

When we arrived for his appointment Winston was noticeably nervous, giving a clear sign he knew he was in for something serious.  It was very difficult saying goodbye to him before his surgery without getting upset and it was even more arduous waiting for the surgeon to call with the results.  It turned out the surgery went well.  The tumor, although very large and difficult to remove, did not attach to either his kidney or the vena cava, but he did lose a lot of blood.  The surgeon recommended a blood transfusion and we agreed to proceed.

Miraculously, he was released to come home less than 48 hours after surgery.  This was a difficult time for all of us as Winston was so weak and fragile and was far from his normal self.  In fact, we didn’t hear him “speak” for days after, and being that Winston is a very vocal miniature schnauzer it was extremely unusual for him to be so quiet.  After a few days, Winston began to make some great progress.  His swelling went down and the large incision that went nearly the entire length of his underside began to heal.  He started to walk and move around a bit more normally. After two weeks, when his stitches were removed we allowed Winston back up onto our bed at night like he was used to. He had been crated to avoid stairs or jumping while his incision healed and unable to sleep with us.  It was at this time that we realized Winston really was going to be o.k. and he had proven just how tough and mighty a mini-schnauzer could be. We are so very thankful for our vet, Dr. Bush at Beauchamp’s Animal Hospital and especially for Winston’s surgeon, Dr. Streppa at Nashville Veterinary Specialists for performing a successful surgery.

Today, Winston is doing extremely well. He has shown us strength we never knew he had and has proven to us that you can defeat cancer. Winston has his full energy back (even with only one adrenal gland) and he has not once been sick to his belly!  He is looking sharper than ever now that his hair has grown back in in all of the various places and is back to modeling his good looks for all his incredible, encouraging and generous 10,000 pals on social media!  When he’s not posting pictures, he is cuddled up right next to Mom or Dad!  We celebrated his 9th birthday a few months ago he is the perfect big brother to his little sister.

John & Rachel Morgan