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Toronto owners in race against time to save dog with cancer with just months to live

Nugget "means the world" to her owners who are desperately trying to raise funds to save her life.

Photo | Eric Correia and Fen Hsu

Two Toronto dog owners are in a race against time to save their dog's life after she was diagnosed with lymphoma and given just one to two months to live.


Eric Correia and his partner Fen Hsu own 7-year-old rescue dog, Nugget (@nugget_the_rescue_dog), a mixed breed dog that Hsu saved from Mexico around 4 years ago.


Nugget "means the world" to them according to Correia, and since the pandemic the trio have become "really close" and feel as if they have formed their own "pack".


It was on vacation in Montreal in November with the pooch when Hsu felt some small, concerning lumps on Nugget's neck. As the pair had already planned another getaway to Aruba in the New Year with Nugget in tow, by chance, they already had an appointment with her vet for early December.


However despite hoping for the best, Nugget's tests came back confirming she had lymphoma, with her vet telling the devastated couple that her prognosis without immediate treatment was as short as one to two months.

Nugget's owner Fen Hsu is an artist and drew this image of their first trip to the oncologist (Photo | Fen Hsu)

"That was rough," said Correia, who's own mother survived lymphoma a few years ago. "So we were like, we've got to do everything we can for her."


Worsened by the skeletal veterinary crews and closures over the Christmas holidays, the couple's next step was to secure an appointment with an oncologist, but with only a handful based in Toronto, the next available slots were towards the end of January and February.


"So based off when we found her lymphoma, that would have been scarily close to what the prognosis was would have been already, like the end of her life," Correria said.


Luckily, Nugget's vet was able to intervene and the couple were able to get the pooch an emergency appointment and onto an initial course of oral chemotherapy treatment.


However, as Nugget has heterochromia - having one blue and one brown eye - her owners are still waiting on results of the genetic test to see whether she can have standard chemotherapy.

But with each round expected to cost upwards of $8,000, plus blood works, assessments and supplements, the bill for Nugget's survival is soaring.


According to a website set up by Correira and Hsu called savenugget.ca, the couple are potentially facing costs of around $18,545.


A GoFundMe page to help cover the costs has already raised just over $11,000 of a $12,000 goal, which Correira said should help cover two rounds of chemo for Nugget.


According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the average remission time for dogs who receive chemotherapy is around 8 to 9 months, with an average survival time of up to one year.

Photo | Eric Correia and Fen Hsu

Correia said: "So it's still scary, but she's such a huge part of our life that if we didn't do everything we could for her then we'd regret it for sure."


As for Nugget's condition, her treatment so far has drastically improved her lymph nodes.


"Her lymph nodes are completely back to normal right now. It's amazing. We were so scared originally, we didn't think that that would happen, so that's good. [We're] not sure how much the oral chemo is doing. It's hard for us to know right.


"But she's doing a lot better than she was. At one point she was super lethargic. And always trying to kind of lay by herself under a table. She was panting all the time. And since we started the treatment stuff, she's back to her old self. So it's awesome."


If you want to donate to Nugget's fund, visit her GoFundMe page here.



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