Cancer in Animals - Stories Of Resilience

Here are two stories of animals who didn't let their cancer get in the way of life!

Cancer is terrifying. The disease can show up at any time in anyone at any age. No one is immune, not human nor animals. It progresses slowly and often undetected until it's a serious problem. Treatment involves nausea, loss of hair, and many other little unpleasant side effects. And the worst part? There is no cure, only remission. It can come back at any point in time, worse than before. It's especially scary perhaps because there isn't a pathogen or bacteria that can be held responsible. Cells in our own bodies mutate and spread, causing all kinds of troubles... making you, quite literally your own worst enemy. 

But cancer is not unbeatable, and while some humans have displayed amazing resilience and positive attitude in the face of this life-threatening illness, animals definitely have us beat. Perhaps this is because they do not have the same understanding of cancer as we do, and their desire to live often means embracing life head-on, both good and bad. We visited RESQ Charitable Trust, a local animal hospital where both amazing and heartbreaking moments often take place. Here are two heartwarming stories of animals and their resilience:


Simba was a street pig, a large boy with a tough life out in the world. But his life got a lot harder when a tumour began to grow around his knee. It got larger, and with the way pigs tend to live on the streets, Simba's tumour also became infected to the point where it was infested with maggots. This was how he was reported: his giant cancerous tumour teeming with a maggot infestation. To say he was in a lot of pain is an understatement, but more than that his life was in danger. The tumour in tandem with the poor diet he was getting living on the streets meant that this was one VERY sick pig. He had awful blood values that made his doctors sceptical of his recovery. After cleaning up his tumour, and improving his diet, Simba also received chemotherapy, and surgery to remove remnants of the cancerous growth that was threatening his life. Today, Simba is fully cancer-free, in remission and spends his day sunbathing in a puddle of mud with his best friend and girlfriend Nala. You can meet Simba at RESQ any day of the week, and if you're so inclined, you can also make a small contribution to his care!


Some lives touch us in ways we can never fully comprehend. Lucky was one such life. This old Labrador boy was found with mouth cancer. There were tumours growing in his gums making pretty much any mouth-related activity uncomfortable. To a dog, their mouth is EVERYTHING — eating, drinking, playing fetch or tug of war, carrying things, grooming, pretty much all doggy activities need a healthy working mouth and Lucky didn't have that. Age was another factor. He was miserable, but he was also old, at over 12 years old, and his chances of making through chemo were low, nevermind any chances of going through surgery. But that presented his vets with two choices: Treat the cancer and hope for the best or put Lucky out of his misery. They chose the former and performed the risky surgery in the hopes that if it could help, it would buy him enough time to enjoy his final moments of life. The thing about Lucky was that this was a dog with a personality much larger than him. And he wasn't about to let a little cancer stand in his way. He not only survived the tumour removal surgery, but he bounced back to health and spent the last few months of his life begging for treats and cooling down in puddles of mud. Lucky died, but not from his cancer; he died of old age, surrounded by the people who loved him!

These are only two stories; there are hundreds more like these. Mind over matter might not always be prudent, but there's no denying that a positive outlook in awful circumstances can help. One only has to look at animals to see that. Cancer is a serious problem across species and one that can't always be avoided. But on World Cancer Day, we wanted to add some hope to your day and warm your heart with the other side of cancer — the victory that comes with surviving it.

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