Early Detection Saved Katie

March 25, 2015

katie-adjMy beautiful Katie had just turned 7 years old on June 3rd of 2008 when we noticed a small dark spot in her mouth underneath her tongue. I immediately made an appointment to take her to our vet, Dr. Raleigh, to have it looked at. Dr. Raleigh expressed concern and said we needed to have it tested. I’ll never forget the date, it was Friday, the 13th of June when we got the devastating news that Katie had oral melanoma and would need to have surgery to remove the growth and part of her jaw. Dr. Raleigh tried to reassure me that of all the cancers that were out there, we were fortunate that it was oral melanoma as there was a new vaccine that had been approved by the USDA within the last year for canine oral melanoma.

We scheduled Katie’s surgery with Dr. Bonczynski at the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers. Dr. Bonczynski did a wonderful job with Katie’s surgery – she removed part of her bottom jaw along with several teeth and got clean margins and when Katie’s mouth is closed you wouldn’t even know that she had surgery. Immediately following the surgery Katie had her 1st treatment of the vaccine (ONCEPT).

We had a 2nd scare in June of 2012 when we found another growth on Katie’s upper gum that tested positive for oral melanoma but relieved to learn that once again we had found the growth early, had it removed and continued with the vaccine treatments and there has been no spread of the cancer.

I will be forever thankful to everyone involved in the development and licensing of the oral melanoma vaccine. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have my beautiful Katie five plus years after her 1st being diagnosed with oral melanoma. Whenever Katie and I are out and about and I encounter other dog owners, I proudly tell them that Katie is a cancer survivor, and that if they’re ever faced with a similar situation, be hopeful because there are treatments available and being investigated and developed.

– Nancy K.

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