Providing Lifesaving Treatments to More Pets

While some cats might startle or hide when they hear a loud noise, Kiki runs to the source to investigate.

“Kiki has always been very strong-willed and even a bit aggressive. I have never had a cat like him,” says Hiedi Hall, who 11 years ago found Kiki (pictured at left) on her driveway as a tiny kitten and nursed him through infancy with supplemental formula.

cat patient of UW Veterinary Care Kiki
Kiki rests on the shoulder of Hiedi Hall while at UW Veterinary Care.

When the fearsome feline became less bold this January and started repeatedly sneezing, his family knew something was wrong.

“For some cats, you might know they do not feel good if they are not eating,” Hall says. “With Kiki, we know he is not feeling good if he is not biting or kicking butt!”

Several appointments later, Kiki was diagnosed with periocular lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of cells that are part of the body’s immune system. Periocular lymphoma originates in spaces around the eye. Clinicians recommended radiation therapy to fight the disease, which began as a mass above Kiki’s left eye and extended into his nasal cavity.

Hall was devastated, though hopeful that Kiki’s no-fear demeanor might help him through cancer treatment. But another obstacle emerged: finances. Hall had already withdrawn all she could from her 401K retirement plan to support Kiki’s medical care.

Then, at an appointment at UW Veterinary Care, Hall learned of the Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Foundation Pet Cancer Treatment Fund. This fund supports pet parents who otherwise could not afford the cost of treating pets diagnosed with cancer.

“The support provided by this fund allows us to offer assistance to clients with financial need. The ability to maintain that human-animal bond and offer meaningful hope is priceless.”

In October 2020, the UW School of Veterinary Medicine was one of 11 of the nation’s top veterinary oncology universities to be awarded a $75,000 grant from Petco Love (formerly the Petco Foundation) for pet cancer treatment funds. These funds subsidize the cost of cancer treatments for dogs and cats, and were distributed to clients on a first-come, first-served basis of up to $4,000 per client. The funds have now been fully dispersed.

“Pet cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats, and a devastating diagnosis for pet parents who cannot afford treatment for their pets,” says Petco Love president Susanne Kogut. “With all the strides being made in the veterinary oncology field increasing treatment options for pets, our goal is to make these lifesaving treatments available to more pets and their pet parents.”

Ruthanne Chun, clinical professor and section head of Medical Oncology at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, adds, “The support provided by this fund allows us to offer assistance to clients with financial need. The ability to maintain that human-animal bond and offer meaningful hope is priceless.”

Hall, who lives in Rochelle, Illinois, credits the receptionist at a veterinary eye specialist clinic with helping to set in motion her and Kiki’s good fortune. Hall had been discussing with the clinic Kiki’s case and where she might turn next for consultation.

“By a stroke of complete luck, the receptionist brought up how UW would be much closer, that she took her pet there, and she highly recommended UW for their outstanding care,” Hall recalls. “I feel like that conversation changed the course of everything that happened after!”

“The grant we received was an absolute miracle. People cannot imagine how just the smallest donations can add up and change a family’s life so much.”

In March, Kiki received two weeks of radiation therapy at UW Veterinary Care with clinician Steven Moirano, a resident with the Radiation Oncology Service. Kiki had his six-month checkup in late September and is doing well, with no signs of recurrence.

“The grant we received was an absolute miracle,” Hall says. “People cannot imagine how just the smallest donations can add up and change a family’s life so much.”

“We are so blessed to not only have more time with Kiki but to have more quality time with him as he is in remission,” she adds. “I could never express the amount of gratitude for the grant and the caring, talented team at UW treating Kiki.”

Meghan Lepisto

This article appears in the winter 2021-22 issue of On Call magazine.

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