Second Chances

Cancer Survivor and his Companion Receive Second Chances

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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. Cayenne in water aerial resized

“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 24/7.”

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 recovery.

“This experience has taught me a lot,” explained Woody. “I learned that relationships are worth more than money.”

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“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 me.”

“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 habits.”

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 hospital.

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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 the CVM.

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 pain.

“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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