Teams at PVSEC-BluePearl Extend Canine Star’s Life with Multi-Specialty Care
- January 28, 2022
- by BluePearl Media
Roxy, a 12-year-old Italian greyhound, known as “Foxy Roxy,” garnered a massive international outpouring of support as she battled a rare form of brain cancer in 2021. To her owner’s delight, by the time Roxy succumbed to her cancer on December 7, 2021, she had accrued close to 8,000 followers on her Facebook page and had received fan mail from several countries, including Australia and Germany.
Prior to Roxy’s terminal diagnosis in June 2021, Roxy had grown a fanbase on social media and within online Italian Greyhound communities. Posing in costumes, attention from fans grew, so Jason Dunkle and Mona Gray, Roxy’s owners, hired professional photographers to help.
Dunkle and Gray adopted another Italian Greyhound (Greyson) in 2015, which prompted even more engagement from Roxy’s followers. Roxy and Greyson wow ’ed online lookers as they dressed up as pumpkins, football players, cowboys, cops, and pandas. Incredibly, the Roxy and Greyson won more than 10 photo and costume contests and were featured in three calendars – all of which were sold internationally. As a result of Roxy and Greyson’s winnings, Dunkle and Gray raised $3,000 for animal rescues.
In June 2021, after surgery and testing, Roxy was diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive brain cancer, histiocytic sarcoma. Although most animals with this form of brain cancer have a short survival time, her devoted owners opted for surgery and chemotherapy with Neurology and Oncology specialists at PVSEC – BluePearl in Pittsburgh, PA. Roxy’s care team consisted primarily of Drs. Amanda Taylor, Laura Scoda (Neurology), Todd Erfourth (Oncology), and Kathleen Hipple, veterinary technician supervisor (Neurology).
At beginning of treatment, Roxy was extremely unwell; she did not respond to sight, sound, or touch, and was in a fog. She also had uncontrolled seizures and would circle and bump into objects,” explained Dr. Amanda Taylor, Group Medical Director at BluePearl. “I performed Roxy’s surgery, a craniectomy, in early June. Once her tumor pathology report was back, she began chemotherapy with the Oncology team at our hospital, with a drug specific for her tumor. She received concurrent care with the Neurology team to track her progress and neurologic status. The ophthalmology team was also brought in as she had a cataract in one eye and developed a corneal ulcer postoperatively.”
After a couple of weeks Roxy returned close to her normal quality and state of life, while adoring fans followed along on social media and online community platforms.
Roxy was an incredibly special girl and always a model patient for us during her chemotherapy treatments,” remarked Dr. Erfourth. “She is a perfect example of how many lives one animal can brighten and we will all remember her fondly. I’m thankful we were able to help her spend more great time with her family, to whom she meant the world!”
Inspiring both on-lookers and those professionals caring for her, Dr. Scoda remarked:
Roxy’s case is a great example of dedication to patient care on both the medical staff side as well as client care side. Roxy brought joy and hope to so many, and we were happy that we could help her continue to do so.”
However, despite successful surgery, several treatments of chemotherapy, comprehensive, collaborative care across specialty departments, and at home care, her cancer progressed. The teams at PVSEC continued to care for Roxy, extending her life three months past expectancy.
Roxy lived happily for a total of six months (after diagnosis) before her owners opted to peacefully let her go. Roxy’s story–one of resilience and connectedness, bringing people around the world and teams within PVSEC BluePearl together —is one many will never forget.
Roxy is a miracle. She was unlikely to survive surgery, let alone have a good quality of life afterward,” said Dr. Taylor. “Her story highlights we work as a team in veterinary medicine – supported by nurses, client service Associates, doctors and clients – to result in remarkable outcomes for pets.”
Roxy was the bravest little pup! Nothing could keep her down,” Kathleen Hipple remarked. “She truly was a special dog.”
In many eyes, Roxy was a star, and her legacy continues to live on today. In Roxy’s honor, a tribute wall has been posted on Green Pet Funeral Home website. Fans and supporters can post a message, light a candle, or purchase a tree to be planted in Roxy’s memory. To date, 17 trees have been purchased and planted in memory of Roxy, and Dunkle and Gray have received 125 get well and condolence cards from her fans around the world.
Roxy lived an amazing life. She got to experience things that most dogs dream of. Her huge personality and beautiful photos brought so many people together from around the world,” remarked Dunkle and Gray. “Although we are deeply saddened by her loss, we hope that her medical records will be used for research to hopefully help other dogs with the same diagnosis.”
View more pictures of Roxy by visiting her Facebook page.
Frankie’s Friends is dedicated to finding cures and saving pets with cancer and other life-threatening conditions. We help save pets’ lives by providing grants to assist with the cost of life-saving or life-enhancing emergency or specialty care for pets whose families cannot afford the full cost of treatment. Frankie’s Friends assists families who demonstrate substantial financial need and whose pets, with treatment, have a good prognosis for return to a good quality of life.
To learn more or to apply for aid, visit the Frankie’s Friends website.