Dr. Jenna Burton, D.V.M., M.S. Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology)
I had one of my first experiences with pet cancer after college when I was working as a veterinary technician at the only animal hospital on Nantucket Island. Living in relative isolation, I had a chance to see a variety of patient diagnoses because veterinary specialists were a ferry or plane ride away.
One of our clients had an amazing golden retriever named Sunny, who developed osteosarcoma. The owner, who was not much older than me at the time, was a cancer survivor and wanted her dog to have the same chance at life that she had been given. Sunny underwent an amputation and chemotherapy, and I was blown away at how he never batted an eye at any of it. Every day was a great day for Sunny, even during his cancer treatment.
I went on to veterinary school at The Ohio State University, followed by an internship at CSU. I was fortunate to join the team at the Flint Animal Cancer Center, first as a medical oncology resident, and afterward for two years as a faculty member.
I left the Flint Animal Cancer Center to join the oncology faculty at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where I was also the director of the Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials. My time in California provided an excellent opportunity to see how a different oncology service works, but I’m excited to return to CSU; the integrated cancer service here is the best in the world – hands down.
Now that I’m back, I look forward to so many things, including working alongside my former mentors, Drs. Doug Thamm and Sue Lana, and my former resident-mate, Dr. Kate Vickery! The clinical trials program is outstanding, and I can’t wait to collaborate with Dr. Kristen Weishaar and her team to start new trials.
It is such a privilege to partner once again with this group of incredibly talented medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists and be a part of the cutting-edge of veterinary oncology. I love the team approach because it helps us figure out how to provide the best long-term control of cancer AND the best quality of life for our patients. I believe the integrated model allows us to provide unparalleled care for our patients and their families.
As a clinician, it’s important to me to understand my clients’ goals for their pets during their cancer treatment and to make sure they have all the information they need to feel comfortable with the decisions they are making. I strive to make the best of a really tough situation for people that are caring for a pet with cancer.
When I’m not caring for my patients, I spend time with my husband and our super mutt named Livy. And once we’ve settled in, we will hopefully foster some kittens as Livy is an expert kitten fosterer! We are also excited to re-experience all the things we love to do in Colorado – hiking, biking, skiing and just generally enjoy the beautiful, great outdoors.
The science of cancer and cancer treatment is evolving at an incredibly rapid pace, and it is rewarding to get to be involved with research that could improve the lives of all patients with cancer. It is meaningful to me that I feel like I am contributing to the greater good – I truly believe the steps we take forward in veterinary oncology can eventually help all patients, human or animal, with cancer.