Spotlight on A Hero – Charlotte – Hero # 1127
By Nancy Sexton
Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Participant and Volunteer, Hero #2703, Scout
Charlotte had no shortage of middle names, thanks to her owner, Teresa Brick. As a puppy, Charlotte was Mayhem, due to her energy and tendency to leave a path of destruction in her wake. As she matured, her middle name changed to Joy, because Teresa realized Charlotte was one very happy dog. She always had a smile on her face, and loved life and the people in it. As time went on, Charlotte earned the name Princess Warrior Charlotte. Because, when diagnosed with cancer at just 3 years old, she showed an incredible fighting spirit.
Teresa enrolled Charlotte in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study when Charlotte was a puppy. Teresa had started seeing her new veterinarian, Dr. Emily Roach, for Charlotte’s puppy visits. She found out Dr. Roach was a study veterinarian, and was actively recruiting golden retriever puppies for the study. Teresa was, unfortunately, all too familiar with canine cancer, having lost her family’s first golden retriever, Libby, to hemangiosarcoma just a few months earlier. Teresa also had learned Charlotte’s mom, Roxy, was diagnosed with mast cell cancer when her litter was just 4 weeks old.
Teresa liked Dr. Roach from day one, and always felt she just had a sixth sense when it came to her patients. Sure enough, Charlotte’s cancer was found early, during a routine veterinary visit. Charlotte was diagnosed with rare undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma, accounting for only 1 percent to 2 percent of all canine cancers. It was difficult to diagnose, and Teresa was grateful for Dr. Roach and the additional testing that was completed by ANTECH Diagnostics (a Platinum Partner to the Study), as part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to help pinpoint the diagnosis.
An unexpected benefit of her involvement with the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study for Teresa was the support she received from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study Supporters Facebook page during Charlotte’s treatment. Teresa said she would have never been able to make it through their cancer journey without the support of the group, and she appreciated all the kind words, prayers, advice, gifts and care packages.
Teresa had hoped Charlotte could attend the Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty for the Hero Parade, but she was just too ill. So, a photo “Flat Charlotte” went to the parade instead! All the attendees of the GRCA National signed the back of Charlotte’s picture, creating a precious memory for Teresa and her family. Teresa and Charlotte also invited all the heroes and supporters unable to attend the GRCA National to march in their own virtual parade. On September 30, as the Hero Parade was happening at the GRCA National, the virtual parade was happening from coast to coast!
Charlotte was a true warrior princess, and fought her cancer like a champion. Unfortunately, she lost her battle on the snowy evening of November 9, 2017. But, even in her death, Charlotte had one more gift to give. In the words of her veterinarian after Charlotte’s necropsy, “Charlotte has finished her greatest donation, and our lives and this world will forever be changed due to her generosity.”
Charlotte touched many lives in her few short years and brought joy to everyone she met. She had friends everywhere; when she was diagnosed with cancer, a friend of Teresa’s flew all the way from Ethiopia just to see her. Charlotte loved many things: smiling, her walks, a good romp in fresh snow, her friends (especially supporter Monte), potato chips, and her stuffed animals – although neither the potato chips nor the stuffed animals ever lasted more than a few minutes!
Without a doubt we will all keep fighting and, with thanks to Charlotte and all the other heroes in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study – we hope to make progress in the battle against cancer.
As one condolence noted:
“Once there was a dog named Charlotte who taught us to laugh at cancer.”