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.
Our Canine Hero for the 2018 PuppyUp New Paltz walk is Jackie Green. Her story is below:
I want to start this off by saying that Jackie is a warrior – she always has been. I have an 85 pound male boxer, and she grew up defending him in the dog park, when alpha males wanted to show him who was boss. She has been known to jump into the ocean in Queens for a quick dip – in November. When she was about three months old, she ate a metal and plastic clip contraption. It landed in between her stomach and intestines and she had to have a three hour surgery. A few months later, she ate a giant block of rat poison. I’d say I sound like an absentee dog mama, but if you knew how tenacious she is, you’d understand.
It totally threw me, then, when she was diagnosed with cancer, as she had never been sick a day in her life. Well, other than by her own doing – but I thought she was immortal. In mid-November 2016, I noticed a lump on her back right leg. It seemed to sprout out of nowhere, but I didn’t think much of it. She had a check-up later that month and on November 29, 2016, her vet aspirated it to determine what it was. It was cancer: mast cell tumor. She had a successful surgery on December 17, 2016, and home she went. Shortly thereafter, she started several months of chemo, sometimes once a week, as well as steroids, and ultimately, the cancer was eradicated. It was not as easy as that, though – she had a never-ending seroma that kept filling up (picture attached.) We were concerned that the tumor was back and forcing the pocket to fill, but it never returned. She had an MRI on the area with the seroma, and at times, chemo had to be suspended to address it, but it never slowed her down. Her incredibly talented, experienced surgeon said that in all his years, he’d never seen anything like it. The bandages and wraps on her leg caused secondary injuries, but she powered through like a champ. In fact, the hardest part about everything was trying to keep her still so she could heal. One day, oddly, the seroma disappeared.
Just as she was approaching the three month, post-chemo mark, to have her check-up for the mast cell, another tumor appeared, almost overnight, on her front left leg. It was August 2017 – this time I knew not to wait and off to the vet she went. It was cancer again, this time a nerve sheath tumor and unrelated to the mast cell. She had surgery on August 23, 2017, and again, it was successful. Right before then, I had decided at that we would pursue surgery, but I would not put her through more chemo or try radiation. I always said I would do what was best for her, not what was best for me – and she had already been through so much. Fortunately, all of the tumor was removed, without issue.
In November 2017, during another check-up with her oncologist, they found that a tumor in her liver (which we had been aware of) had doubled in size in mere months. There was no way to determine what it was – not without a severely painful, invasive surgery, which may or may not have informed further treatment. I opted to not do this – again, it seemed unnecessary and not for her benefit – her amazing team at VERG agreed. Welp, wise move because here we are nearly a year later and Jackie is almost 10.5 years old. She is as wild as ever, and just wants to eat everything in her path and jump on the bed. For this, I am forever grateful. I attribute a lot to diet, reiki (yup, I practice on her), her lust for life and sheer luck. Of course, everyone at Northside Vet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Dr. Cohen and Dr. Kahn at VERG in Brooklyn saved her – literally – and figuratively, they saved me, because Jackie is my family.