Grateful VTH Client Supports PVM Bladder Cancer Research through GoFundMe Fundraiser

May 20, 2016

Nick and his dog, Fiona, show appreciation to Dr. Deborah Knapp, Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology.

Nick and his dog, Fiona, show appreciation to
Dr. Deborah Knapp, Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology.

Fiona, a Sheltie from Tennessee, is a multiple national title holder in canine agility. Her owner, Nick Sparks, is an active judge in agility and has given seminars on the best ways to run and compete in the sport. Both Nick and Fiona have hosted a national TV show on canine agility. However, Fiona's career nearly had to be put on hold.

In May 2015, Fiona was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer. She started chemotherapy immediately, but her cancer was getting worse. Nick received a recommendation to bring Fiona to Purdue Veterinary Medicine's Dolores L. McCall Professor of Comparative Oncology Deborah Knapp, who is co-section head of oncology in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) and director of the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program (PCOP). In July 2015, Fiona had her first appointment at the VTH, and the prognosis was not good. Fiona was within days or weeks of passing. Her tumor had grown and was blocking a tube from her kidney to her bladder. She had surgery immediately and continued chemotherapy.

One month after surgery, Fiona was participating again in agility competitions. She earned 5k lifetime points, placed second at the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) Nationals, and finished her Century Standard title in the American Kennel Club (AKC) this past March. She did all of this while continuing to undergo chemotherapy treatment for her bladder cancer. Fiona truly loves to compete, and she has continued to do so with the help of Dr. Knapp, the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and her local veterinarian, Dr. Lavalley.

As a "Thank You" to Dr. Knapp and the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Nick wanted to host a fundraiser to help with research on finding a cure for canine bladder cancer. For Fiona's 10th birthday on April 26, a GoFundMe page was set up and $2,846.13 was raised to help Dr. Knapp's bladder cancer research.

"Because I still have my little girl, Dr. Knapp and her staff are deserving of my attention and admiration," said Nick. "I trust their judgment. They have been very caring and supportive. And because I have a career in the dog world, my dogs are my partners, not my pets. They deserve as much care as possible."

Writer: Kevin Doerr,

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