Serena knew CeCe, an Italian greyhound, was special when she won her show debut the weekend before her first birthday.
“My husband and I had been successfully showing dogs for a few years when we got the call about CeCe,” said Serena. “She was the pick of her litter and had been with us only for a short time when she won her first ribbon.”
Following her premiere, CeCe earned multiple national and international titles. She competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where she placed Best of Opposite Sex. At one point, CeCe was the No. 3 Italian greyhound in the United States.
“She loved to show,” said Serena. “She loved the constant attention and treats. I call her my diva. She doesn’t like toys and isn’t interested in chasing any-thing. Sleeping is her hobby.”
CeCe retired from competition two years ago. Last fall, CeCe’s family noticed a small lump on her neck that quickly grew to the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Her veterinarian determined it was a soft tissue sarcoma and referred her to Flint Animal Cancer Center for treatment.
CeCe was diagnosed with a grade III soft tissue sarcoma. This tumor type is locally invasive, and its behavior is predicted by grade. Grade III tumors have a 40% chance of metastasis, usually to the lungs. Surgery is typically the recommended treatment. However, Serena learned that CeCe’s tumor would be difficult to remove completely, significantly increasing the likelihood the cancer would grow back.
Fortunately, CeCe had options. “We decided to participate in a clinical trial,” said Serena. “If we didn’t treat, CeCe’s prognosis was poor. We wanted more time with her, but we’re both retired, so the treatment costs were a concern. We learned that clinical trials offer great care and cover some of the treatment costs.”
HELPING PETS AND PEOPLE WITH CANCER
Serena enrolled CeCe in a study to learn if adding oxygen to soft tissue sarcomas during radiation improves tumor response. Studies show that tumors lacking sufficient oxygen are more resistant to radiation treatment. The results of this study may be significant for both pets and people with certain types of cancer.
“We chose to enroll CeCe in a trial that would benefit pets and maybe even people,” said Serena. “We decided that would be CeCe’s legacy – to help others.”
“CeCe has been such a joy to work with, and we are so happy that she has done so well with her treatment,” said Dr. Kristen Weishaar, medical oncologist, and clinical trials director.
“When we initially saw her, the tumor was 4.6 cm, and at her last visit, we couldn’t even feel it.”
Today, CeCe is back to enjoying retirement and spends her days napping and playing with her six, four-legged siblings.
“We wanted a few more months with CeCe and hoped that through her participation in the study that she could help others,” said Serena. “Amazingly, the cancer is gone!”
To learn more about One Cure or to invest in this program, please contact Torii Kapavik, director of development, torii.kapavik@colostate. edu, (254) 424-2327.