Cancer Survivor and his Companion
Receive Second Chances
Woody and Terry Wilson step into the small animal hospital at
the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences (CVM) with their grand English Mastiff, Cayenne, for her
second rehabilitative visit of the week. As they enter the
rehabilitation suite they are warmly greeted by David Sessum,
registered veterinary technician and rehabilitation specialist at
the CVM, who has been working with the Wilsons since August 2010
when Cayenne was referred to the CVM.
"When Cayenne came in she was diagnosed with the following
conditions: a torn cruciate ligament (injured knee), a hypothyroid,
skin issues, and obesity," explains Sessum. "We decided that in
order to alleviate the pain in her knee she needed surgery.
However, prior to surgery she needed to lose about 20 pounds and
her skin disease needed to be treated in order to prevent
additional problems during surgery."
The Wilsons are willing to trek the drive from Tomball, TX two
to three times a week for Cayenne's weight loss rehabilitation and
other treatments to prep her for surgery because she is more than
their pet; she is a family member. Cayenne's love helped the
Wilsons make it through the toughest time of their lives.
On March 11, 2009 Woody Wilson was diagnosed with pancreatic
cancer. The news was shattering to Woody and his wife. They knew
they had to act fast, so Woody had surgery within a week and
received treatment directly afterward.
The odds were against him as the expected life span after
diagnosis of his level of pancreatic cancer was three months. Woody
has been in remission for 20 months.
"That was the most trying and painful time of my life," said
Woody. "I made it through the battle through love and prayers. My
family kept me alive because Terry and Cayenne were by my side
In addition to Cayenne, the Wilsons have two cats that have a
strong bond with Cayenne. Throughout Woody's treatment, his wife
and pets were by his bedside in harmony to help him in his
"This experience has taught me a lot," explained Woody. "I
learned that relationships are worth more than money."
"Many times I question the reason why God let me live,"
explained Woody. "I now know that it is so I can take care of my
family, because they put their whole lives into taking care of
"Dave and his staff were a godsend to us," explained Woody.
"They are teaching and training us how to keep Cayenne alive and
healthy by providing her with the right nutrition and exercise
Other than teaching the Wilsons proper exercise and nutrition
habits, Sessum and Abby Rafferty, registered veterinary technicians
at the CVM, incorporated their state of the art rehabilitative
equipment into Cayenne's treatment. The CVM is a national leader in
rehabilitative services. For patient therapy they use the aquatic
treadmill, therapeutic ultrasound, neuromuscular stimulation,
thermal agents, therapeutic exercise, and they provide
individualized home exercise programs for every patient so that the
owner and the patient can continue treatment outside of the
Cayenne is a frequent visitor to the aquatic treadmill which has
been the most beneficial for her weight loss and knee pain. The
aquatic treadmill is the perfect therapy for Cayenne because it
provides buoyancy which doesn't cause any stress on her already
injured knee. It also helps her to lose weight and build muscle
because of the water resistance while the warm water assists with
relieving her pain.
Cayenne has lost 15 pounds, and her skin condition was treated
by Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical assistant professor in dermatology
at the CVM, and Amanda Gordon, certified veterinary assistant at
Sessum explained that since Cayenne is doing so well the Wilsons
have the option to proceed with surgery after the 20-pound mark, or
they can decide to forgo surgery dependent on her level of knee
"Dave and Abby have treated us and Cayenne like we are royalty,"
explained Woody. "Without their help, Cayenne would not be the
lively girl she is today."
"When Cayenne entered the hospital she was in a sling," Woody
said. "Now she runs in and out of the hospital. Thanks to Dave and
Abby, I still have my two baby girls: Cayenne and Terry."
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