Alice's Story

Kathleen and John first met Alice when she was four weeks old. She was one of 12 labradoodle puppies born to a neighbor’s dog. They brought Alice home when she was just nine weeks old and fell in love with her sweet personality. The family quickly learned Alice loved to have her belly rubbed and her treat buddy became her favorite toy. Alice spent her days running, playing, and visiting with siblings that also live in the neighborhood.
“She has lots of personality, and gets along well with everybody,” shared John.

After several healthy years, when Alice was seven-years-old, she started limping. She loved to run and play, so Kathleen and John initially thought she pulled a muscle. After two weeks, Kathleen decided it was time to take Alice to the veterinarian to get checked out. Alice’s veterinarian examined her and took radiographs of her right front leg. The images suggested osteosarcoma, a bone tumor in her right front leg.

“I panicked when I heard the initial diagnosis,” said Kathleen. “Our veterinarian gave us options, he was pretty clear about the protocol, but also suggested we contact CSU.”

Kathleen and John scheduled an appointment with the Flint Animal Cancer Center to seek a second opinion. The oncology team at the FACC examined Alice and provided a series of treatment options, including amputation, limb-spare surgery, and radiation. Doctors also told the couple that Alice was a candidate for a clinical trial.

“As soon as our first visit, we knew coming to CSU was the right choice,” said John. “Everyone we met was very caring and always took the time to answer our questions – they were never rushed.”

After considering the options, John and Kathleen elected to have Alice’s right front leg amputated to control tumor growth and eliminate pain. With conventional treatment, the average survival rate for patients with this form of cancer is 12 months.  In addition to surgery, Alice enrolled in the COXEN clinical trial which uses the individual patient’s tumor characteristics to determine the best chemotherapy treatment for that patient. This protocol has been successful in human patients, and the FACC’s clinical team is analyzing its effectiveness in canine patients.

“One important factor in our decision about Alice’s surgery was the opportunity to participate in research that might help other animals,” said Kathleen. “We were, of course, hoping it would help Alice.”

Over the course of several months, Alice received alternating doses of two chemotherapy drugs, doxorubicin and carboplatin. Since completing chemotherapy, Alice returns to the FACC every two months for rechecks.

“Alice is such a fantastic patient and always comes into the clinic with her tail wagging,” said Dr. Chris Pinard, clinical trials intern. “She makes us laugh no matter what, and it is such a pleasure to be part of her care team. She is already over a year past her diagnosis and is doing so well!”Alice in the snow

“The first thing Alice does when she sees me is lunge towards my face to deliver multiple kisses,” said Kara Hall, clinical trials nurse.  “She is possibly the happiest dog I have ever met.”

Fourteen months after her initial diagnosis, Alice is feeling great. She enjoys car trips and hotel stays with Kathleen and John. She gets around without a problem and quickly learned to adapt to life on three legs. Her walks are a little shorter these days, but that’s really the only difference.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but we would do it all over again” admitted Kathleen. “The extra time we’ve had with her and her wonderful quality of life have made it all worth it.” 

Your gift to the Flint Animal Cancer Center will support our mission to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in beloved pets like Alice. Please join our team of hope. Together we can make a difference; together we can work toward a cure.