As members of a land-grant institution, we believe it is our responsibility to share our knowledge and expertise. To fulfill that commitment, the Flint Animal Cancer Center Consult Service offers a free resource connecting pet parents and referring veterinarians with our oncology specialists. The program answers approximately 2,000 requests for oncology information annually. The service is supported through private gifts.
A Caring Resource for families navigating a pet’s cancer diagnosis
Learning your pet has cancer is devastating. Fortunately, consult coordinators Sandra Larson and Lisa Regan are available to offer support for families beginning their pet’s cancer journey.
“When families contact us, they are usually anxious, scared, emotional,” said Larson. “Our goal is to provide a listening ear, answer or facilitate answers to their questions, and offer hope.”
For about 25 percent of families, their consult turns into an appointment at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. Sometimes, the consultation helps them decide if travel to us for care, often from long distances, is the right decision. Our consult service also might facilitate a link to a specialist closer to home.
“Our history with the consult service dates back several years when our beloved Sugar Bee was first diagnosed with cancer, and Sandra Larson connected us with veterinarians near our home in Florida,” said Margo Blumenthal. “Recently, our dog Mr. B was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, and we wanted to know what to do. After talking to the consult service, we learned that our new oncologist here in Florida, Dr. Monica Fernandez, had just finished her residency training at the FACC. We knew then we were in good hands!”
From the beginning, the consult service also has served veterinary colleagues from around the world. Each year, nearly half of our inquiries are from veterinarians seeking the latest treatment information or inquiring about referring a patient to the Flint Animal Cancer Center.
“The oncology consult service has been an invaluable resource for our practice,” said Dr. Emily Mehlman of Anchorage, Alaska. “We are grateful for the ongoing service they provide.”
from the first phone call to the last day of cancer treatment
Advances in veterinary medicine offer pet families a variety of treatment options. Navigating all the medical decisions during an incredibly emotional time can be difficult. In human medicine, patient navigators help guide patients through the health care system.
“We recognize the multitude of decisions involved in caring for a pet with cancer,” said Dr. Susan Lana, oncology service chief. “We’ve been told time and again that Sandra and Lisa help remove some of that stress. We would like to expand our efforts and build a program that supports families from the first phone call to the last day of treatment, just like human medicine.”
Our current team does their best to be a resource for all consult service users. With additional staffing and technology support, we envision our patient navigators helping every family throughout the oncology journey. This includes obtaining medical records, assisting with appointment scheduling, sharing what to expect at their first appointment, providing local information for out-of-town visitors, aiding communication between our team and referring veterinarians, and being a source of connection and support for clients.
“The patient navigator program is an extension of our commitment to comprehensive and compassionate patient care and family support through the cancer journey,” said Lana.
Generous friends like you support this valuable outreach. With your help, we hope to expand this program and grow our support services for pets with cancer and their families. If you would like to partner with us in growing this service, please donate today.