Jake, a resilient and beloved Labrador retriever, is basking in the joy of his new lease on life, thanks to the compassionate team of veterinarians at Texas A&M.
Last year, the 9-year-old canine, affectionately named Jake from State Farm, was discovered wandering the streets of Waco, Texas, with an enormous mass on the side of his neck, surpassing the size of his own head. Long Way Home Adoptables, a local rescue group, took him in and placed him with a foster family, who sought medical advice regarding the tumor.
Understanding the risks associated with surgical removal of the substantial mass, the veterinarian referred the case to Texas A&M’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The specialists at the university diagnosed the growth as adenocarcinoma, a salivary gland tumor that had spread to Jake’s ear.
Dr. Vanna Dickerson, an assistant professor at VMBS, explained, “Salivary gland disease is relatively common, but salivary gland cancer is not. In Jake’s case, saliva built up due to the obstruction caused by this large tumor in his salivary ducts. It is quite unusual to see it progress to such an advanced stage.”
Considering the tumor’s size and proximity to critical structures like the trachea and esophagus, surgery was deemed the most suitable option. Generous donors, moved by Jake’s story on social media, partially funded the surgery, enabling the veterinarians to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Although complete removal was unfeasible due to its location, the procedure extended Jake’s life and significantly improved his comfort.
Dr. Dickerson clarified, “Ideally, with any tumor, you would aim to remove it with a margin of healthy tissue around it to ensure no cancer cells are left behind. However, given the size of Jake’s tumor and its proximity to important structures, such as the trachea and esophagus, we knew that the surgery would serve as a palliative measure.”
“We simply wanted to enhance his quality of life for however long it may be,” added April Plemons, the executive director of Long Way Home, as reported by WFAA station.
To reduce the risk of cancer recurrence, Jake also underwent chemotherapy. Following his recovery, Plemons and her team diligently sought a forever home for him. Jake’s story had garnered significant attention, including from State Farm, which sent him a care package, according to Plemons.
Among the numerous inquiries about Jake, a promising candidate emerged—Josie Brown, a veterinary practice manager possessing the expertise and resources required to provide Jake with ongoing medical care. Brown warmly welcomed Jake into her home.
Unfortunately, the Lab’s tumor has started to regrow. Nevertheless, Brown diligently drains the fluid from the tumor once a week to prevent it from becoming too large. Her aim is to shower Jake with comfort and affection, given everything he has endured.
Brown lovingly expressed, “Jake is truly the most incredible boy and is genuinely living his best life. He never shows signs of pain and adores being around his humans. He adjusted to life with us seamlessly; it feels as though he was always meant to be here.”
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