Most people pet their dogs and never think twice, but that one fateful day changed me and my dog Papi’s lives forever. After discovering some sizeable lumps on his throat before bed I immediately took him to the vet in the morning to figure out what it was. Then after some tests I was given a diagnosis that no pet parent wants to hear, Lymphoma Cancer. Even as I write this I still feel my heart sink as it did that day as I remember receiving the horrible news. I then plead if there is anything that can be done because I am willing to do whatever is necessary to help my boy Papi. I was then told that it was thankfully treatable but it will be a little expensive. Understatement of the year! My regular vet then sent me home with info on an oncologist she used for her own pet. This was one of the moments that I think steered me in the right direction that saved Papi’s life.
After doing some research and seeing typical treatment plans I was given another gut punch with the cost. It seemed insurmountable to be able to raise the type of figures I saw in a short period of time, because as I learned Lymphoma is fast acting and time is a big factor in getting treatment started. Well I scheduled an oncology appointment but due to Covid the appointment was not for another 2.5 weeks. So knowing that time is a factor and money is another big factor, I had to use that time to not only baby my poor dog Papi but also to try and think of every possible way to raise the funds. That entailed asking everyone I knew that could help, taking out credit cards, selling items, you name it. I ended up raising a nice sum that I was comfortable with and confident would be enough to pay. Then came the oncology appointment.
After meeting with the vet oncologist she recommended courses of actions that we could take ranging from just making Papi comfortable to going for the treatment plan that would be most effective and had the highest chances of remission. My heart began to race and I start to panic inside as she went thru what each treatment plan would entail because in my mind I wanted to get the best treatment I could for the best chances at remission, but hearing the options made me begin to question whether I truly had the funding necessary that I thought I did. The thing she said next both hit me hard in the gut again making my heart sink but at the same time releasing so much stress I was building since setting the appointment for the oncologist. She says, “The treatment will be this much (then shows me the number that made my heart sink)”, but immediately followed it up with, “but this is not due upfront. It will be done on a treatment by treatment basis.”. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic! As long as it was in payments I would have no problem paying it off! Or so I thought.
After maxing 1 of a few credit cards I recently took out for the initial visit and treatment, I was then given a breakdown of the cost per treatment as well as how long treatment will take. This is where I wish I did more research into treatment times because I would have realized then as I did at that moment that treatment is roughly 26 weeks and I would have to pay every week for treatment that is, not to mince words here, much more expensive than I thought per session. I have a good career that pays well but even this was looking to be a daunting task. After talking with the oncologist some more and telling her more about not only Papi but my other pets as well and what I have done to keep them healthy and happy, she began to tell me about the amazing organization of Zeus Oncology Fund and all the work they do.
I do not use these words lightly as I feel they should hold weight when said, but they were literally a Godsend. After trying for a month to try and pay for things myself I could already see trouble ahead financially. I opened a GoFundMe with little success and my other endeavors were not paying dividends as I had hoped so it was beginning to look more and more doubtful that I would be able to keep up with the payments every week, and that just hurt my heart more than I could bare especially as I looked over at Papi relaxing and enjoying being around his family. I felt like the stereotypical father at the dinner table with bills and papers strewn about trying to go over the figures and try to figure out some way, ANY way, to try and find the funds. Then like in a movie the pamphlet that the oncologist gave me for Zeus Oncology Fund fell to the floor and broke my focus. I at first just grab it and put it onto the pile of papers and continue on trying to devise plans to come up with funding. The pamphlet kept staring at me until finally I had to take a break, but I took the pamphlet and decided to read it again. I was never lucky in life and never was picked for grants that I applied for like when I did for school so as appealing as it seemed, my cynicism kept me from reaching out. But desperation leads you to reach for any helping hand out there, no matter how slim the chances may be.
Well I began the application process and saw a few criteria that stood in my way because of the circumstances of how I acquired Papi from a rescue. Disheartening as this was I decided to try and find the things I needed to meet the criteria and put the application process on hold. Well it was apparently on hold for a little bit because I received an email from ZOF asking why I haven’t finished my application. After explaining my situation, I was simply told to still apply and finish the application. This gave me hope again when I was beginning to feel hopeless. Maybe there was a chance I can still get picked and Papi can live out his days as an old timer rather than suffering from this vile disease.
Prayers were answered and ZOF came thru! They emailed me later and told me that I was approved for a grant! I am not an emotional man but I could not hold back tears of joy and ended up hugging and petting Papi so much that he was confused why the sudden burst of attention, but from the look on his face he didn’t mind it. ZOF truly saved Papi’s life and made it possible to give me some breathing room again to pay down some debt that I incurred in order to finish taking care of the rest of the treatments when the grant money was exhausted. I can honestly and truthfully say that I am forever grateful to ZOF for everything they have done. They helped me through the application process, sent a care package to Papi when we got approved, and have been keeping up with Papi’s treatment and condition. They have been with me every step of the way and there is not enough time in the day nor enough good things I can say about ZOF. They are truly an amazing organization that has given me and Papi relief and also allowed Papi to remain with his family where he is loved and belongs. It still brings tears to my eyes even now as I look over at Papi sleeping and snoring on the couch, that all this was possible because of ZOF, and for that I want to truly and wholeheartedly give thanks to Zeus Oncology Fund for everything!
I know that it is a rather long and maybe long winded review, but I had to share my story because to me it gives great context to the similar struggles that everyone has had to endure as well as how ZOF has come to save the day when all hope seemed lost, because in all honesty that is how it felt to me when your organization came through to help me and Papi. I do apologize that my review reads more like a campfire tale, but I just started writing and things just started flooding back to me that I felt I had to include it.