When I brought Velma, my 8.5 year old Bullmastiff, into the emergency vet one night in early May of this year, I thought for sure she had a foul stomach from snagging that half bag of gummy bears off the kitchen counter. Velma is such a hearty, healthy dog; we had been feeding a home-cooked diet and supporting her overall health with Chinese herbs for the prior four years. My partner and I were absolutely devastated by the news. We just couldn’t believe the doctor had diagnosed cancer.

We knew we wanted to do everything in our power to extend her time with us for as long and with as best quality of life as we could provide. We had been on a similar journey once before with our French bulldog Hugo, the miracle dog who survived a brain tumor, so we knew we could help Velma tackle the seemingly impossible too. We had learned through Hugo to let our dog take the lead in guiding us through the healing process. If Velma was game, we would climb the mountain again, together.

We reached out to those who had helped us with Hugo’s battle, including Dr. Gerry Post at FidoCure about the latest personalized treatments and Animal Cancer Foundation to encourage us in the fight as they had once before. Along with our oncologist and integrative veterinarian, we put together a comprehensive plan to fight Velma’s cancer while supporting her immune system while she was going through treatment. Amazingly, she sailed through radiation with no side effects to speak of.

I am thrilled to report Velma is in great spirits today! Living her best life, as she always has. She’s excited to go for her walks, even more excited to eat her meals. She plays with our other dogs, just as she always did. It’s so important to view those among us who are healing, animals and people alike, just as we always have. Not as some new, compromised version of themselves but rather as their true, authentic selves. This mindset has helped me greatly to care for my dogs and I believe instills confidence in them encouraging their healing. We hope our journey also helps to give others confidence to face a diagnosis of cancer in their pets and calls attention to the need for more investment in comparative oncology research to help pets and people.

We are so grateful for Velma’s incredible results and only want her to continue to live her life as she always has, as the happy, loving, clever, spunky, cuddly Bullmastiff she has always been!  And this is why I am the proud Grand Marshall of the 2022 Nationwide® Pet Cancer Awareness Walk.  The money raised will help fast-track us towards a world with better cancer treatments making sure all dogs like Velma, receive the treatments they deserve.

By: Renée Felice Smith | Actor, Producer & Author