Finding out that a beloved cat has cancer is heartbreaking for cat parents. The sad reality is that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older cats. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, 6 million cats will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone. However, a cancer diagnosis does not have to be the end of the road. Depending on the type of cancer, Treatment options ranging from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to palliative care may extend the life of cats with good quality for months, and sometimes even years.
I believe that the decision whether to treat feline cancer is always an individual one. There is no right or wrong answer. Factors such as the cat’s age, general health status, and temperament, as well as past experiences the cat’s human may have had with cancer in humans or animals in their life, all come into play. So do finances: cancer therapies are expensive.
The Brodie Fund offers financial assistance for cancer treatments
The Brodie Fund raises money to offer financial assistance, through grants, to families who have pets fighting cancer. Created by Sally Williams, a life long cat lover and cat behaviorist, the fund is a unique non profit organization that benefits cats (and dogs) who have been diagnosed with cancer. While most other non-profits in the same realm allocate funds based on clinical criteria such as age and prognosis, which may exclude cats that might otherwise benefit from treatment, the Brodie Fund looks at each individual cat’s and human’s situation to determine whether they can help.
The fund was inspired by Sally’s cat Brodie, who was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the nasal passages in July of 2015. “Although he was living with cancer he never, ever let us know how bad he must have felt,” said Sally. “Working with our amazing team of veterinarians, we got the proper diagnosis and formed a treatment plan. ” This meant expensive testing followed by four weeks of radiation, 19 treatments total, and eventually regular follow-up appointments and supportive care. Brody passed away in September of 2016.
Sally started the Brodie Fund during Brodie’s treatment. “During his radiation, i needed a place to put my energy and to do something positive instead of focusing on my fears,” said Sally.
All grants are detemined on a case by case basis. The Brodie Fund currently helps at four veterinary practices and has two special grants allocated per year outside of their network. “We have very personal relationships with each grant recipient,” says Sally. “They become family to us. Because we work on a case by case scenario, we don’t rule out helping senior cats (pets) or cases that might have what may be considered a ‘poor outcome’ (poor meaning shorter survival time and not quality time.)” Sally’s mission is to give quality of life and the gift of time, even if that time may be short. “I personally understand how important having that extra time with your pet is,” said Sally. “We got 13 wonderful months with Brodie post treatment. Not only did this allow us to love and spoil him, but also gave us time to prepare for when we would say goodbye.”
How the fund works
In order for a pet owner to be considered for a grant, they must be a client of one of the fund’s participating veterinarians, and must include all relevant financial information. Applications must be completed by a participating veterinarian. If the grant is approved, payment is made directly to the treating veterinarian.
While the fun currently only works with four veterinary hospitals in the tri-state area, there are plans to expand. “We would like to add another hospital this year,” says Sally, “but we have to be mindful so we don’t exhaust funds. At some point we would like to be in different states across the country so that anyone needing help would be able to drive to a participating hospital.”
More than just financial assistance
As a cat parent who went through cancer treatment with Brodie, Sally wants to offer more than just financial assistance to other cat parents. “When the grant is approved I personally reach out to the grant recipient,” says Sally. “I initially start with an email or occasionally a phone call. I personally like to stay in touch before, during and after treatment, but am sensitive to what each individual grant recipient needs. So far we have built strong ties with every person/family and many of them are currently volunteers for our organization.”
Sally is always available for support, but the fund also offers a professional grief counselor free of charge. “If the cat and cat parent are open to meeting in person, that is something I love to do,” adds Sally. “I have been to vet appointments, parks and have driven to other states for hugs. It can be a bit more challenging to meet cats as they travel less, so skyping is always an option!”
How you can help
If you’d like to support the Brodie Fund, you can do so by donating here. You can also help by volunteering and sharing the Brodie Fund’s message on your social media channels.
For more information, please visit The Brodie Fund website.