Paula Plummer knows firsthand what having a pet with cancer looks like. For the last 14 years, Plummer has been a licensed veterinary technician in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), and for three of those years, she has been a dedicated member of the Surgical Oncology team.
But in 2020, Plummer experienced pet cancer on a much more personal level when her dog Ramsie, an 11-year-old Australian cattle dog, woke her up on Christmas Eve morning with severe vomiting.
At first, Plummer didn’t have cancer on her list of possible causes. Instead, she worried that Ramsie had a neurologic issue or a bowel obstruction, and she rushed her beloved companion to the VMTH for emergency help.
“I was thinking of every possible scenario she could have been in,” Plummer said. “We took radiographs, but there was nothing we could see except that she was dehydrated and constipated.”
Plummer left Ramsie at the VMTH for more tests and received a call shortly thereafter that the clinicians had found a lytic lesion on her right femur.
“I knew instantly that it was cancer,” Plummer said.
From that point forward, Plummer’s “oncology family” rallied around her to get Ramsie the help she needed.
They concluded that the vomiting Ramsie had experienced was the result of such severe pain that she was too uncomfortable to go to the bathroom.
“It was pretty amazing to me that Dr. Emma Warry looked at all the pieces of information and was able to complete the puzzle,” Plummer said.
Once the clinicians determined that Ramsie had osteosarcoma (a tumor of the bone), they developed a treatment plan and helped eliminate some of Ramsie’s pain in the short-term. As a long-term plan, however, she would need to have her right hind limb amputated.
Plummer had planned to wait until Ramsie stabilized more to get her the surgery she needed, but on New Year’s Eve, Ramsie became profoundly lame in her hind limb, and Plummer realized her leg was broken.
“I called Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles (in Oncology) and told her what I was seeing, and she made arrangements to meet me at the clinic in a torrential downpour, where they confirmed the break,” Plummer said. “Because it was a holiday, most people were off, so all these teams had to be called in for emergency surgery, and they were able to amputate the limb.
“While I was waiting, Dr. Robles told me they were going to give me funds from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo to help with everything,” Plummer said. “I knew that we had these amazing funds because I’ve seen so many clients get to benefit from them, but never in a million years did I think that they would offer funds to me.”
Plummer said the support from the Petco Foundation and its partner, Blue Buffalo, was an instant relief to her family.
“I was still processing everything that happened with Ramsie and also had to come to terms with the financial piece, so I just started to cry,” Plummer said. “It was such a huge relief knowing that my husband and I didn’t have to pay for the full surgery out of pocket.”
Three weeks after surgery, Ramsie is now back to living her best life.
Plummer said with a smile, “She’s completely healed and back to chasing the horses at the fence like she always has!”
For the Oncology team at the VMTH, the Petco Foundation funds continue to be a wonderful source of support to the clients about whom they so deeply care.
“Being able to have these funds to offer to so many clients is incredible,” Wilson-Robles said, “But it was extra special to be able to help one of our own Oncology family members through this very generous grant. Paula is always there for our clients as they navigate their own pet’s cancer treatments, and it was important to us to give her the support she so deserved when her own pet received this difficult diagnosis.”
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of CVMBS Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216