yellow Labrador retriever
Izzie is still going strong five years after chemotherapy and surgery at the UC Davis veterinary hospital.

Third Opinion on Cancer Diagnosis Offers Life Saving Options

In 2015, Izzie, a 6-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever, was a typical active Lab. She loved playing ball, chasing birds, and swimming. When her owners, Morgan and George Birdsong, noticed a tumor growing on her head, they immediately took her to their veterinarian. After diagnosing it as a mast cell tumor, Izzie’s primary veterinarian and a second opinion both offered palliative care as the best option, not giving her very long to live. At this point, Izzie’s tumor had grown to the size of a tennis ball.

Not wanting to give up, the Birdsong’s sought out another opinion with the oncology specialists at the UC Davis veterinary hospital.

“From the first moment we met with the UC Davis team, we felt there was hope for Izzie,” said Morgan. “We knew that she was in good hands.”

After meeting with Izzie’s new care team, the Birdsongs decided to enroll her in oral chemotherapy treatments meant to inhibit the growth of mast cells and cause cell death. After several bi-weekly treatments, Izzie’s tumor diminished to an immeasurable size.

“Izzie loved her bi-weekly visits with the UC Davis staff and walked in each time with a huge smile on her face,” said Morgan. “By the time we completed treatments, it was as if the whole staff knew who she was and greeted her by name. We are so grateful for the extraordinary care that they gave Izzie. Every person we met truly cared about her case and tried to ease our fears while giving us all the information we needed in regards to her treatment and prognosis. On top of the outstanding care that we received, we had amazing results!”

Unfortunately, Izzie’s tumor returned a year later, but it was small enough for surgery to be a safer option than before. UC Davis veterinary surgeons worked with Izzie’s oncology team to successfully remove the tumor with no complications.

“Izzie healed like a champ, and five years later, she is now 11 years old and as happy as can be,” said Morgan in a recent update. “She’s still playing ball, swimming, and chasing birds daily.”

To help with Izzie’s care, the Birdsongs qualified for financial assistance through a generous grant from the Blue Buffalo Foundation’s support of the Petco Foundation pet cancer treatment program at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. The grant helps support treatments for domestic companion animals suffering from cancer. The project is designed to support pet parents of modest means or pet parents whose pets provide a service to others.

“We are so extremely grateful to the UC Davis staff and Petco Foundation for all of their help and support,” Morgan said. “I don't know how we would have made it through that difficult time without them. They have given us more than five years worth of happy memories, and I can't imagine what life would look like right now without our Izzie girl!”

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