Two years after the launch of DogTrekker.com, Kayla got very sick, or at least we thought she did. Still a healthy, nine-year-old Lab with boundless energy, she became quiet, lethargic and not really that interested in food. She followed Roxanne around the house, whining constantly. Tests were done to rule out many potential issues, including cancer. The results were negative but still troubling since her symptoms were not getting better.
A few nights prior to heading off to UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis for yet another round of evaluations, we were in bed when, at around 4 a.m., Kayla jumped up, put her head near Roxanne’s left arm and began pawing her breast area. Roxanne, who’d had a mammogram just a few months before, decided to check the breast closest to Kayla. She found a small lump.
Within a couple of days after a biopsy, we were given the news that Roxanne had been diagnosed with one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, triple negative. It's called triple negative because it cannot be treated in the same ways as most other forms of breast cancer.
The good news was that the cancer had not spread to any lymph nodes and was contained to the immediate area around the tumor. If the cancer had spread, the outcome would most likely have been more deadly, according to Roxanne’s doctors. They told us that Kayla had probably saved Roxanne’s life.
After an operation, chemotherapy and radiation, Roxanne’s prognosis was positive. While this form of cancer has one of the highest chances of reoccurrence in the first five years, it is among the lowest after timely treatment. Roxanne has been cancer-free for close to five years.
And what about Kayla, Roxanne’s savior? Within days after alerting us to the presence of cancer, Kayla slowly got better. She slept with Roxanne as she was recovering from the operation, chemo sessions and radiation. Until she passed away, Kayla followed Roxanne everywhere she went, eyes focused and nose smelling (in parts per trillion) to determine if cancer had returned.
It makes total sense, as man has provided for dogs for more than 100,000 years and, in turn, the dog has used its nose and other instincts to protect us. Kayla did that with Roxanne, and for that, we are so thankful.