It seems that we all have something we are fighting right now. This next month, I’m all about doing battle with cancer. Cancer. Ugh, I hate it. I actually began this piece with a direct conversation to cancer itself, but it contained so many swear words I had to delete it. I have good reason to hate cancer, as does almost everyone reading this article. Personally, I’ve lost two dogs, a sister-in-law and a best friend to cancer. I have several friends who are battling cancer as I write. I look at my three dogs and find myself wondering—will I lose one of them to it? (That’s not paranoid, cancer affects dogs at higher rates than it affects people.) What about Jim? Argh, I can’t even go there.
Of course, none of us can have a direct conversation with cancer. It’s not sentient, it doesn’t speak English, and just as relevant, there is no such thing as “cancer” as a single disease. Cancers vary tremendously; that’s part of why it is so challenging to prevent and cure its many variations.
However, the fact that many kinds of cancers are found in both people and dogs creates an opportunity for researchers. Having similar kinds of cancers found in two species means that researchers from both human and veterinary medicine can combine forces and work to cure those cancers for all of us.
That is what the Puppy Up Foundation is all about—raising money to save lives by funding comparative oncology studies that battle cancer with an interdisciplinary approach. This year people and dogs in 40 cities will be walking to raise money to fund that research. Last year the Madison walk raised over $132,000 to help find a cures. 1,100 people and 900 dogs participated, and this year Jim and I will be there again, fighting the best way we know how—by personally doing all we can to help raise money for a great cause. And a great cause it is; in years past large grants have been made to UW-Madison, UC-Davis and the University of Texas, all doing cutting edge research to find better ways to prevent and cure cancer.
This then, is my fifth year of cocking my head and raising a paw in hopes of generating more funds for such a good cause. Please join me in Donating to Puppy Up Madison, and looking forward to a world in which our grandchildren think of cancer as a disease of the past.
Join me too in sending a memorial to those you have lost, or who are currently fighting cancer:
Misty—My little, fox-faced Misty Cuffs, I am so sorry I didn’t realize that you were harboring tumors for so many months before you died. And then, just a few days from diagnosis to death. I love you, and miss you. And I wish you’d come back and kill all the moles in the lawn like you used to.
Lassie—My sweet, whipped cream of a girl, I still ache for you. Thank you for teaching me how kind and loving a dog can be. And for learning not to leap up and stick your tongue into people’s mouths like you did when I first got you.
Barbara—My wonderful warrior sister-in-law, how could we lose you at such a young age? Who is there now to tease your brothers, soothe your mother, be the first to welcome me into the family? But you will always live on, in the students you nurtured and inspired. Thank you for being you.
Karen—Are you really still gone? Are you not out tracking somewhere with your Flatcoats? Please come back, I miss you girlfriend. Still.
I hope you have fewer memorials to send, both now, and in the future.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Spring! Really! First flowers: