My love for writing began in high school. I was the only one I knew who actually loved writing long papers!
After graduating from college with a BA in literature, I explored going to vet school. I could not apply until I completed three animal pathobiology classes, which I did complete at UConn.
I worked at two vet clinics. I loved helping the animals, but my love of writing was calling me! In my first “real” job, as a producer of media for high school students, I was assigned such fascinating subjects as study skills, getting along with your parents, and mastering algebra or geometry. I also did freelance writing jobs, and then (finally), the universe found a way to combine my love of animals and my interest in medicine!
I landed freelance jobs writing medical articles for animal magazines. I became the editor of Catnip, a newsmagazine from Tufts Vet School, where I researched and then wrote medical articles about cats. While I was editor of Catnip and helping to launch a volunteer program at my local SPCA, Bullet was diagnosed with cancer. He started chemo the day after he was diagnosed.
Bullet’s chemo vet urged me for a year to write this book. I didn’t want to write it – I wanted someone else to write it! In 2002, when I saw that there were still no such books, I started writing.
I wrote Help Your Dog Fight Cancer to reach anyone trying to give their dog a chance to survive cancer. It provides a ton of information that owners will not find anyplace else, information that is often not provided by the treating veterinarian. (You can order the book here.)
I love that this book is helping so many people and their dogs fight cancer. I hate that there are so many people who need the book.
I live in the suburbs of New York City with my husband Mike, Puck (a Pitbull/GSD mix), and Rip (a Siberian husky). I love writing, hiking, gardening, and jigsaw puzzles. Most of my time is spent running Magic Bullet Fund, to help people who have a cat or dog with cancer but cannot afford treatment fees. I donate proceeds from my books to the fund.
In 1992, I adopted an 18-month-old Siberian Husky called Max at the local SPCA. Anyone who has ever lived with a Siberian will tell you that they are more than a bundle of trouble. He was willful and ornery, smart and demanding. His primary objective in life is to escape and run free. The name Max didn’t fit the dog. In the weeks following the adoption, Max’s first (of many) series of escapes earned him the name Bullet (as in faster than a speeding…).
In July 2000, at 9 years old, Bullet was diagnosed with lymphoma. He had aggressive chemotherapy and was in a very small percentage of dogs to survive the disease. Was Bullet’s survival enough for him earn the nickname, “The Magic Bullet”? Not yet.
In November 2002, at the age of 11, Bullet had congestive heart failure. Tests showed that he had dilated cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation, and the prognosis was six months to a year survival. Bullet endured another congestive heart failure episode in April 2003 and another in August 2003. He did not respond to the usual cardiac meds. I wound up getting FDA approval to import a medicine not yet approved in the U.S., and it kept him with me for an extra 2 years.
Bullet’s chemotherapy vet, Paolo Porzio, used to go for hikes with us. He sent his patients with lymphoma to me to learn what I was doing for Bullet. At Dr. Porzio’s urging, I wrote the book Help Your Dog Fight Cancer to help others who have a dog with cancer.
After a 4-year and 4-month remission from lymphoma, a 2-year survival with a deadly heart condition and 5 congestive heart failure episodes, his vets started to call him “the Magic Bullet.” I think he earned the title!
On November 20. 2004, the Magic Bullet suffered acute renal failure and passed to the Rainbow Bridge. still cancer-free.
Bullet was one shining moment that graced my life for 12 years, 2 months and a day.
Bullet’s legacy is the Magic Bullet Fund, a nonprofit providing financial assistance to people who have dogs with cancer but can’t afford treatment costs. Magic Bullet Fund has helped almost 900 beautiful dogs and cats through treatment! It has been years since my boy Bullet went to the Rainbow Bridge, though it seems like just yesterday that I held him in my arms. Bullet is my guardian angel, my inspiration and my hero.
Every day I whisper to him,
“My sweet precious boy, I’m still holding you.”