I am so grateful to play a part in the Flint Animal Cancer Center because I feel we offer our patients a powerful blend of advanced cancer treatment and loving care. To reach this stage in my career, I’ve taken a long and enjoyable journey.
Growing up in Bethesda, Md., across the street from the National Institutes of Health, I was often struck by the power of clinical research and fascinated by medicine. My father’s work as a public health physician took him overseas to Africa and South America to help others. Even when working on countrywide projects, he always considered the individual and advocated for them. My mother is a professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University and she has encouraged my passion for patient quality of life, particularly end-of-life care.
As a family, we went on many adventures abroad while I was growing up, allowing me and my sister Camille to see a lot of different perspectives. Most often, though, Camille and I were at home taking care of our zoo of pets including a wonderful golden retriever, cats, ferrets, gerbils, fish, and a snake. It sounds like the typical future-veterinarian youth, but as a kid I never thought of turning my love for animals into a profession.
As an undergraduate, I started as a biology major with an interest in animal behavior at San Diego State University until my sister asked me why I didn’t look into becoming a veterinarian—and suddenly it all clicked. I started volunteering at animal shelters, and then worked my way through school as a veterinary technician. When I learned that the University of Maryland at College Park had a pre-vet program—where my high school sweetheart was studying— I transferred cross-country and have never looked back. Amanda is now my wonderful, supportive wife and I wouldn’t be here without her.
I attended the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and it was there, while volunteering for summer clinics, that I developed an interest in oncology. The patients that truly moved me and made me feel most invested were those with cancer. There was Lucy, a beautiful Great Dane, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma but was back on her paws within days of palliative radiation therapy. Her loving owners were so appreciative of the good, quality time they had with her before she peacefully passed. Another dog, Finley, was fortunate enough to have a solitary form of ocular lymphoma, which I was ecstatic to completely remove through our student surgery service. These patients’ outcomes were very different, but their treatments were both successful in the minds of their owners. I want to be able to offer every family care that suits their goals.
Any veterinary student with an interest in oncology knows the influence of the Flint Animal Cancer Center on cancer care and research. However, the warm, courteous, and collegial work environment is equally impressive. With one of the busiest veterinary oncology caseloads in the world, we work capably as a team of clinicians, nurses and students, and have fun doing it. One truly wonderful thing about this program is the diverse training we receive. Throughout our residency, not only are we on the clinic floor seeing a range of cases-- including radiation and surgical cases--but we are also intimately involved in clinical trials. Working alongside such skilled clinicians and researchers pushes me to rise to the challenge each day - to do the best I possibly can for my patients and their families. My clinical and research interests include personalized care (treating every patient and their tumor as unique), improving quality of life, palliative treatments, and novel drug clinical trials.
Away from the hospital, Amanda and I share our adventures with a goofball golden doodle named Aedan, who resembles a sheep and regularly gets herded by border collies. Our landlords are two charming orange tabby cats—brother and sister—named Cheetoh and Piglet, and they graciously share their space with us. We take every opportunity to explore Colorado’s great outdoors, including hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, whitewater rafting and triathlon training. We have been welcomed here by so many kind folks and are growing to love the Mountain West pace of life.