In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness month, I want to pay tribute to a couple of animals that I know personally who were affected by it. I realize this isn’t a happy subject, but these words come straight from my heart. In fact, I’m already crying as I write this paragraph.
Cancer sucks. Period. Whether you’re a dog, cat, elephant or human. My heart goes out to anyone currently facing it on any level.
I’ve been thinking about what an “awareness” for pet cancer looks like -- I’ve decided that for me, right now, it’s an opportunity to honor those we’ve lost to the disease, as well as to make a call for action regarding support for programs that continue to fight and treat it.
As a family, we’ve lost many animals to cancer over the last several years. I know that I am not alone in this.
In 2014, I was brought to my knees when I learned that my sweet, stinky-breathed-under-bite-sporting mutt, Ruckus had an inoperable tumor that had burst on his spine. I felt extremely helpless and wished I had been able to help him. I was told there was nothing I could do and very sadly, we had to say goodbye to our friend.
In the weeks and months that followed -- even years later -- it was difficult to accept that the photographs I had of Ruckus were my last. But I’ll tell you what, I cherish the hell out of those images, as they are visual reminders of the love that I have in my heart for him. I miss that guy.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Moose and his parents, Gedy and Eric. Moose had been adopted as an adult dog and shortly after his adoption, his pet parents learned that Moose had a tumor on his heart. Eric and Gedy gave Moose the life. They took him to the park, for car rides, gave him unlimited belly rubs, treats, and unconditional love and care– the royal treatment. Moose even had hospice care with Dr. Casey Hill here in Austin. How amazing.
I had the privilege of photographing Moose at his home, in his car, and at his favorite park in Austin with his mom and dad. It was a special day for me, and I know that it was also a special day for the three of them.
Photographing pets who are diagnosed with an illness -- most often cancer -- is something that I feel honored to do. These situations are certainly not easy, but being able to offer value on an impactful, emotional level is one of my favorites parts of being a photographer.
I am sending much love and support to anyone who has lost a pet to cancer or who is currently struggling with it on any level. This month and every month, let’s stay as present as we can with those we love, support the care of animals and people in need, and continue to surround ourselves with fur babies.
A couple of resources:
I love the Blue Buffalo Foundation.
Their mission is “to raise awareness and funds so that universities and clinics can research the #1 disease-related killer of our beloved pets, find effective treatments and a cure, and help families get the care their pets need.” I just donated, and I hope you will also consider donating.
When my husband and I lived in Santa Fe, NM our dog Max went through cancer treatment and was fortunately able to be part of a clinical trial there. We loved the care and support he received at Veterinary Cancer Care.
Which resources do you value for bringing awareness and support to the pet cancer and pet cancer awareness?