When the Graham family of Anchorage, Alaska, learned their beloved 9-year-old, 100-pound Newfoundland-Retriever mix, Murphy, had bladder cancer, they immediately knew they wanted to explore every option possible for treatment. Specialty veterinary services are very limited in Alaska, and there is no option for radiation therapy, but they knew about the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s oncology program and had heard about the linear accelerator Edge from Varian now being used to treat certain cancers in pets. They wanted to learn more.
After a few discussions with members of UF’s oncology team, the Grahams made the decision to fly with Murphy to Gainesville on Oct. 8 for an explorative CT to determine if radiation treatment was a good option. Their middle daughter drove down from North Carolina so she could be with Murphy during his first week at UF. The results of the CT showed a small mass in an area amenable to treatment, and no metastasis, which was a relief. The following week, Murphy began a three-week regimen of daily radiation treatments, culminating on Nov. 3. After some post-treatment time spent with family in the Lower 48, Murphy arrived safely back in Alaska on Friday! This week, he begins a follow-up protocol of chemotherapy with their home veterinarian.
“We are always fascinated when our patients cross oceans seeking for cancer treatment,” said Dr. Marilia Takada, chief of the radiation oncology service. “Families like the Graham’s are admirable in their commitment for their loving pet’s care.”
Murphy was a trooper throughout, and bonded with many of his oncology caretakers. His family wants to thank everyone who offered support, advice and treatment, before, during and after his therapy: Dr. Takada and her radiation oncology team, (specifically Dr. Ryan Freed, Dr. Lily Thorsen and staff Megan Kuhn, Blaine Walsack, Maria Ransone, Ashlee Mowrer and Paige Stacey); Dr. Rowan Milner; Dr. Amy Stone for help with a health certificate to fly home and many others, including Lynn Varner for helping to facilitate their initial treatment discussions, Donna and Julianna from the front desk and all who played a part in Murphy’s journey. These photos chronicle Murphy’s treatment on Nov. 1 and are typical of what he went through every day while our patient.
View the Fox 35 News video highlighting Murphy’s story here.