Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Malcolm

Malcolm would've been 13 Sunday. I didn't realize it until now that his birthday comes on the eve of Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

A year or two ago I might have said that was curiously coincidental but I've witnessed way too much in my travels and I know otherwise now.

Last night I was fortunate enough to listen to Dr. Steve Withrow's talk about his lifelong work in comparative oncology. The title of his presentation tells all, "Some Science. Some Stories. Some True." It was both enlightening and invigorating, and I hope everyone of you has the opportunity to hear him speak some day.

One of the most interesting points he made was that despite breakthroughs in understanding and technological developments, "The dumbest cancer cell is smarter than all of us." My father, a nephrologist, used to talk to me at length when I was young about the amazing complexity of the human body and the intricacies of its individual yet interconnected systems. A few months back in a blog about Murphy I described cancer as nature's perfect enemy. It uses that complexity against its victims.

Dr. Withrow also talked about his efforts in convincing the National Institute of Health of the importance of studying cancer in companion pets. In his words, "NIH never questioned the science but the relevance and the ability to extrapolate it into humans." As a consequence, comparative oncology or translational studies are not even a rounding error in the billions of dollars spent on cancer research in the U.S. every year.

Public perception is still another problem and one I can speak about personally. While on our cross country walk I was invited to a number of human cancer rallies and at every one, I was introduced as the 'Dog Cancer Guy' or on a few occasions the 'Dog Cancer Boy' which made me sound a little like a circus act. Don't get me wrong I was grateful for every opportunity we had on the road to share our story but most of my time at those events was spent on, "Yes, dogs get breast cancer, too, and by working together we may find a common link or a key."

It's important this month, Pet Cancer Awareness Month, to keep in mind exactly what we're up against; the greatest epidemic facing companion pets, limited government funding for research, and even public perception.

That's why participating in the 2 Million Dog March this November 7th is so imperative. We've got to send a message to the media that this isn't just an "Aww, puppies" story and to the general public that the only way to eradicate cancer in both pets and people is through partnership.

We're not going to get 2 million dogs to walk in the 12 cities this year or any where close to that but it's the start. You know when Malcolm's cancer spread to his lungs he had hard days and when he struggled, I whispered to him, "We don't give up, we don't give in until the end, my friend." That's where 'puppy up' came from...

I miss you Malcolm. Happy birthday & puppy up!

To participate in a puppy up walk near you, go to


Tamara said...

Great post...educational, interesting, and heartfelt :) You, Hudson, Murphy and Malcolm are in our thoughts today and always.

4 legs & 2 wheels said...

Thanks you for everything you've done for cancer awareness, research, and support! We just had a tumor removed from our 8 year old border collie/lab a few weeks ago , and are still waiting for some answers as to if it's spread and what exactly it was. If Gracie is up for it, we're going to try to work our schedule and make the walk in Cincinnati.

Merlin Wylt said...

Good post. We would participate, but there are no walks by us. For next year, please consider making it something people can participate in wherever they are, and solo too for those of us who's dogs (or humans) don't do well in crowds.

Anonymous said...

Oh Luke, beautiful post. Im so sorry you lost your Malcolm. Im so sorry I lost my Kibo & my Sana. & Im so sorry your Murphy is also fighting this damn beast as well.
One thing we can be sure of, the 3 most handsome angels are looking down upon us & our current beloved dogs. ~Rebecca, Newport, RI

bmdgprmom4 said...

Luke, We always celebrate a BIRTHDAY of a departed family member... human and fur-ball..So "Happy Birthday Malcom" .."you will be in our heart as we celebrate you life"...
till we all meet again......

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. It gives so much info and a piece of your heart is revealed.
A copy of this post will be put in everyone's bag this Sunday so that they can learn a little bit about you, Malcolm and your mission.
Love, Patty Gartmann