Our veterinary technicians are critical members of the Flint Animal Cancer Center team. With up to 30 patient visits each day, they help manage a variety of responsibilities from check-in to administering treatment. While they share many of the same passions – a love of animals and finding a cure for cancer – our vet tech team specialize in different areas to provide personalized patient care.
Most first-time clients and patients will meet one of our devoted veterinary technicians. Collectively, the team of seven have more than 120 years of veterinary experience. They walk patients through their initial visit, help with exams, schedule diagnostic tests, communicate with patient families, and much more. They are skilled, multi-tasking professionals, but what makes them so special is their compassion. They have the unique ability to understand patient needs and client concerns, sometimes because of personal experience.
Team member Terri Bluhm lost her cherished dog, Annie, to a rare form of cancer in 2017. Recently, Kris Ibis’ dog, Piggy, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and is undergoing treatment. Vet tech, Alexa Pickles, lived a different cancer story. As a child, she watched her older sister, Sonja, conquer osteosarcoma. Ironically, Sonja was one of the first beneficiaries of a unique limb-sparing bone graft, a procedure developed in collaboration Flint Animal Cancer Center and the Limb Preservation Foundation in Denver.
New team members, Bethany Meis, Jhoni Sorenson, and Lucas Bisel bring a wealth of experience. Their shared passion for animals and veterinary medicine attracted them to the cancer center.
“Through the day-to-day stress of cancer, it’s uplifting to work with an amazing team of professionals who share the common goal of providing every patient with outstanding care,” said Sorenson.
Our radiation therapy technicians work together seamlessly to coordinate patient care. Team member Wendy Mullins focuses on preparing patients for treatment, including administering anesthesia, a specialized and critical part of the treatment process that ensures that the patient remains in the proper position throughout treatment. Mullins’ 9-year-old Labrador retriever was diagnosed with late-stage osteosarcoma a few years ago and she keeps that experience in mind every day while working with patients.
Sarah Bruns is the primary operator/therapist of the Varian Linear Accelerator, which is the machine that delivers radiation therapy. Sarah has worked in veterinary medicine for 20 years and received specialty training for her position.
“All of my patients have cancer; many of them with a poor prognosis,” said Bruns. “The kindest thing we can do for them is make them feel safe and loved. I get pretty excited when I’m looking at a CT scan and can actually see a change in tumor size after just a couple of treatments!”
Tech Amber Prebble serves our palliative radiation patients. Families choose palliative radiation because of a terminal prognosis. The goal of palliative radiation is to ease pain and/or tumor side effects. She takes comfort in the fact that she is able to provide a better quality of life for her patients and more time with their loved ones.
Deanna Williams is our surgical oncology technician or air traffic controller as she likes to joke. Our surgeons perform multiple procedures each day and Deanna’s job is to coordinate details, including scheduling surgeries and recheck exams, prepping patients for surgery, and communicating with clients before, during, and after surgery.
“Days are busy and go by fast,” said Williams. “I love learning about new techniques to help our patients and being a part of a team that will hopefully cure this awful disease for good.”
Two dedicated clinical trials techs, Kara Hall and Lindsay Carroll, support doctors, scientists, clients, and patients throughout the study process. Depending on the trial requirements, they assist with patient exams, take samples, and check on diagnostic scans such as radiographs and ultrasounds, and administer chemotherapy. Through clinical trials, the cancer center hopes to find better treatment options to benefit current and future patients, and hopefully, one day, find a cure.
“The best part of my job is being a part of cancer research and working towards a cure,” said Hall.
Because clinical trials often require multiple visits over the course of several months and possibly years, our clinical trials techs develop special relationships with patients.
“I love working with our clinical trials patients and clients, they are really special to us” said Lindsay Carroll. “They are pioneers in cancer research, when we help them, we’re also finding ways to help future patients and maybe even people too!”
Experience, expertise, and love for animals unite our oncology team and ensure every patient receives the best possible care. Click here to learn more about our veterinary technicians.