SACRAMENTO — November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month and it is a topic that can be devastating for families.
Miranda was only 6 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. The news was devastating for Noreen Bera.
"Miranda was our child," Bera said. "We weren't blessed with children and even people who are today, a dog is a part of the family."
They did everything they could to fight the cancer: chemo, radiation, therapy, and it worked. Miranda lived four more years – but it cost them nearly $40,000.
"What I realized is, most people can't do that," Bera said. "They don't have those resources."
That's when they started Miranda's People, an organization that helps owners with pets who have cancer both emotionally and financially.
"A lot of the people we help don't have the money, they're living on social security or disability," Bera said.
Part of their mission is education. So what do you need to look out for?
"Just like in humans, as we have health care developments that prolong life, we are facing cancer more commonly, so it's actually becoming very, very common," said Dr. Trey Callahan, an oncologist at UC Davis' veterinarian school.
He said to watch for changes in appetite, unexplained weight loss, or changes in bathroom habits. When it comes to lumps, get them checked out, especially if they're growing fast, if they're red or bleeding, or if they have some sort of discharge.
"It's never wrong to get any of them checked out," Dr. Callahan said. "Oftentimes, a vet will measure it, do a sample of it and that can help us rule out anything malignant or scary."
They are small precautions that can buy you more time with your dog.
"That dog can be your lifeline, and for many people, they are," Bera said.
Dr. Callahan said it's also a good idea to look at different pet insurance options as cancer treatments can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
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