FRANKFORT – Many pet owners like to run with their dogs.
In Carleen Coulter’s case, she is running for her dog.
On July 15 and 16, Coulter, formerly of Shorewood and now of Frankfort, will run for an entire day at the Lisle Christmas in July 24-hour race. The purpose is to raise money for The Perseus Foundation, which helps dogs with lymphoma obtain the new and expensive T-cell infusion treatment.
Coulter, a pet blogger for SomePets.com, has written about her dog’s experience. She said her blog post “When Your Dog Has Lymphoma” was recently named one of four finalists in the International BlogPaws Nose to Nose Awards for Best Blog Post.
Coulter learned about T-cell infusion treatment when one of her Pembroke corgis, Ty, now 7, was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in May 2015.
“One day he had the sniffles and the next day he had a slight cough,” Coulter said. “We went to the vet and had some antibiotics. Within a week, he wasn’t eating and was very lethargic. They did further tests and lymphoma showed up.”
Coulter said Ty was referred to an oncologist in Downers Grove. Ty had six months of chemotherapy and has been in remission for 6 months, but Coulter said remission generally only lasts 14 months, if that.
Ty handled chemotherapy well, but dogs generally do, Coulter said.
“They try not to give such high doses that they’re sick and miserable,” she said. “He had some periods where he was picky about his food or tired the next day after his chemo shot.”
Coulter said dogs generally don’t lose their fur, either, although Ty did lose his whiskers, which have since grown back.
“I found a whisker in his food bowl,” Coulter said. “It was kind of sad.”
Coulter said it cost $3,500 for Ty’s chemo treatments. In hindsight, Coulter wished she’d had pet insurance to help with payments.
“We’re not poor, but we’re not rich either,” Coulter said. “We were able to find the funds, but if we’d had to do it much more, it would have been a hardship.”
Canine T-Cell Project
Coulter did some research and learned about Canine T-Cell Project through Facebook. According to Coulter, this treatment is an immunotherapy procedure for dogs with B-cell lymphoma. It is not effective for dogs with T-cell lymphoma.
Early in a dog’s chemotherapy treatment or after it is in remission, blood is collected from the dog and sent to Dr. Edmund Sullivan, a veterinarian in Washington. Sullivan is part of the scientific team at The Perseus Foundation, which researches cancer treatment for dogs.
The T-cells are then harvested, modified to target cancer, multiplied and sent to the dog’s veterinarian or oncologist, who infuses them into the dog. Ty received two T-cell infusions in June and seems to be doing well, Coulter said.
The benefit, she said, is a longer remission time, and the hope is a cure, but the treatment is expensive. Cost ranges between $3,000 to $5,000. Ty’s treatment was paid through the foundation, Coulter said.
Now she’s fundraising to give back so other dogs can have the same benefits. In addition, Coulter has donated $3,000 to The Perseus Foundation.
Although Coulter is an experienced runner with 14 marathons and two ultra marathons under her feet, along with participation in other runs to benefit animals, the longest she’s run at one time is 8 hours and 40 miles.
She’s striving to make it 23 of the 24 hours and 62 miles at the Lisle event, but it’s not as important to her as helping dogs.
“It’s been a very interesting journey,” Coulter said.
For additional information on T-cell infusion, call The Perseus Foundation at 202-674-1334 or Bellingham Veterinary at 360-734-0720, or visit Canine T-Cell Project on Facebook at www.caninetcellinfusion.info
Read Coulter’s blog at somepets.com
Follow Ty’s progress at www.facebook.com/Puppyonaroomba
Coulter’s fundraising page is at www.gofundme.com/CanineLymphoma