Every day is a victory – defying the odds against hemangiosarcoma
We first met Laurie Sullivan and Bowie in the summer of 2015, a few months after Bowie was diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma, one of the target cancers in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The good news is that as Bowie approaches the one-year anniversary of his cancer diagnosis, he and Laurie are doing well.
This past November, Laurie and Bowie performed in a freestyle dance event at the World Canine Freestyle Organization North American Nationals. It wasn’t their first time competing there, and it probably wasn’t their most polished performance. However, for Laurie it was one of the happiest moments of her life.
After Bowie finished his last round of chemotherapy in August, he was exhausted and seemed depressed. Laurie started taking him to swim and for hydrotherapy – two activities Bowie loved before he developed cancer. Bowie’s attitude started to steadily improve, and Laurie began to consider competing again, something that would’ve been unthinkable just a few weeks earlier.
“I wanted Bowie to have one more turn around the ring and hear one more round of applause,” Laurie said.
Laurie got her wish, and Bowie returned for one final triumph. “It was a really special feeling being in the ring again,” said Laurie. “It was a tremendous victory, no matter what happened. I realized that we won. I got what everyone who has a dog with cancer wants – more time.”
Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive, malignant tumor that affects the blood vessels lining cells. Although the disease could theoretically arise from any tissue where there are blood vessels, the most common location is the spleen. A diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma is serious because these cancers spread quickly. The disease is rarely curable, and long-term prognosis is poor.
Laurie and Bowie celebrated Bowie’s 11th birthday at the end of November. As the first week of December began, Laurie faced another crisis; one she didn’t anticipate. “I saw this big, cavernous space of waiting in front of me. I knew Bowie had exceeded all expectations, and we met many goals; but now what? I had a tough few weeks.”
Laurie said this was a pivotal time, but she realized that “it is a mistake to get sad or depressed.” She recently was watching Bowie rolling in the snow with his dog brother, and she is at peace as they face the unknown together. “I realized Bowie is happy.”
As Morris Animal Foundation launches its third Unite to Fight Pet Cancer campaign, pet owners like Laurie are joining us in our fight against the cancers that take the lives of our beloved dogs much too early. Visit Morris Animal Foundation to learn more about the campaign, and what you can do to help beat canine cancer.