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Golden Retriever Gets a “Second Chance” After Losing Two Loved Ones

Skip with Chance (left) and Murphy
CARES Gives a Grieving Wife and Her Pup More Great Days Together

Barbara has been through the unimaginable in the past year. Her husband Skip passed away suddenly, and months later, their sweet golden retriever, “Second Chance” was not quite himself. “He was a little sluggish,” says Barbara. “I didn’t know if he was just missing my husband. Then, my dog walker saw just a very tiny bit of blood in his stool,” she adds. After visiting with her family veterinarian, Barbara took Chance to CARES in Langhorne.

Chance was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma, a malignant tumor of blood vessel cells. This type of tumor is associated with serious internal bleeding and rapid internal spread. In Chance’s case, the tumor was on his spleen and a CT revealed significant spread of the disease throughout Chance’s lungs and liver. “When I first looked up the diagnosis, I was sick,” says Barbara. “I never expected this.” It was a grave prognosis with average survival ranging from about 2 to 3 months. But, Barbara and the doctors at CARES weren’t willing to give up on Chance and felt he had a good shot to regain a quality of life for the time he had left.

Chance (in the foreground) on his first visit to CARES with Murphy comforting him.

Barbara met with CARES Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. David Puerto. “He was awesome,” recalls Barbara. “I immediately had a lot of confidence and trust in him because he was upfront about the diagnosis and prognosis. He laid the facts on the table, but in a compassionate way.” During surgery, Dr. Puerto removed Chance’s spleen along with a liver lobe that had tumors on it. “The surgery was a great success,” adds Barbara.

Barbara then met with Dr. Beth Overley-Adamson, board certified veterinary oncologist with The Cancer Center at CARES.   Dr. Overley-Adamson worked with Barbara to give Chance an experimental vaccine that was in clinical trials, along with standard of care chemotherapy. “I just think she’s a very intelligent, lovely, caring person,” says Barbara. “I loved that she thought out of the box and that she was aware of this vaccine. She’s very cutting edge. The entire staff has always been so good to Chance and me; whether they are on the front desk, the oncology nurses, the ER staff. All are wonderful!”

While “Second Chance” was undergoing treatment, came more tragic news for Barbara. Her other golden, Murphy, fell ill and had to be rushed to another hospital, closer to her home. Murphy had the same cancer, “but it was in his liver and he was bleeding to death,” says Barbara sadly. Murphy died 24 hours later. “I often wonder what may have happened, if I had taken Murphy to CARES instead,” she says. “Given our situation with Chance, I always thought it would be me and Murphy in the end,” she adds.

Chance loves to play in the pool.

It’s now been 9 months since Chance’s surgery. He has more than beat the odds for survival time and just had what Barbara calls, “the best week of his life.” “He’s responding to treatment,” says Barbara excitedly. “I feel great on the decision I made with the help of CARES because truly these past months Chance has had a very high quality of life. I got, so far, 9 great months. He still plays in the pool. He brings me his ball. He loves to go on walks. Through all this, he’s had very little downtime. I’m ecstatic. I just think because of CARES and the surgery, because of the chemo, the experimental vaccines, I couldn’t ask for more. The doctors at CARES never gave me false hope but they never gave up on him either!”

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Chance is enjoying More Great Days thanks to Barbara and the dedicated team at CARES!