We adopted Link in January 2011, not even two months after getting married and moving to Georgia. I remember our first meeting with Link at the shelter, he sniffed our hands and nibbled on my husband’s ring. We read about how his mother was hit by a car in Florida, another family adopted him but returned him to the shelter because he had too much energy. He was a sweetheart from day one. We took him for long walks around the neighborhood which he loved. A month later, we adopted our second dog Tucker, which was the perfect completion to our pack family. Tucker was timid and scared at first but quickly warmed up to Link who finally had someone to romp around with to expend some of his excess energy. Meanwhile, Link helped Tucker become a little braver and more comfortable in our home. Now they do everything together!
In the nine years that Link has been a part of our family, he has never lost his puppy-like energy. His favorite place to lay is a couch near the window where he can look out the window and woof at anyone coming by our house. He does backflips if he knows he’s going to get to go for a ride in the car and loves visiting his grandparents. Link is such a smart boy; he brings us his bowl when it’s time for breakfast or dinner and makes sure he keeps us on schedule for our morning and nighttime routines. When company comes over, Link jumps for joy and showers everyone with kisses. Now that we’re living in New Jersey with some land, he enjoys running around the fields and chasing his brother as well as going for walks in the woods and sitting by the campfire.
The first sign that something wasn’t right with Link was when I was on my way out of the house, Link came to the door to say goodbye and started having an inward sneezing attack. We took him to the vet twice, but his symptoms were only getting worse. He started having large outward sneezing fits and bloody noses, and it was time to schedule a rhinoscopy to see what was going on. While he was at his appointment, the doctor called me and said “I may have some bad news for you.” I burst into tears. All the sudden, I knew what he was going to say and all I could think was “It’s too soon. He hasn’t been with us long enough. I’m not ready.” Before the biopsy results came in, the internal specialist believed Link had an adenocarcinoma with only a few weeks or months to live. Our only treatment would have been radiation therapy which our vet recommended against due to a poor quality of life following treatment.
But the news only got better after that point. The biopsy result came back as chondrosarcoma, a slightly more treatable cancer with a better prognosis, plus the rate of growth was relatively low. We found a treatment center that specialized in Stereotactic Radiation that would not have all of the negative side effects that our vet was concerned about. I called a pet advocate for the treatment center and learned about the whole process that would take place over the next few weeks. Following the phone call, our pet advocate, Jenifer, sent us some forms and resources and that’s how we learned about the Zeus Oncology Fund. We were hopeful but weren’t counting on any assistance but we couldn’t do nothing—so we continued on the path of his treatment plan: we had a virtual consultation, completed the necessary staging tests, and had a CT before he began treatment.
I cried when Melissa informed me that ZOF was going to help us with Link’s treatment. I had very much been in the mindset that we will do this now and worry about the financial cost later. The relief I felt when I got that email was unbelievable. We are now a week out from his treatment. Link was a trooper the whole time. He was always excited to get in the car, he loved the whole staff at the treatment center. They even said he gave them kisses as they put in his catheter. Within two days of completing his treatment, Link has more energy than we’d seen him have in weeks. We’re beginning to see some of the effects of the radiation treatment and hope, with thanks to ZOF, that this will help us have a few more years with our happy, loving boy.
Shannon P., 2020