My name is Donna Musick, and I am the director of Beauregard’s Army of Angels. My beloved tricolor basset hound Beauregard and I started this organization in February 2017 to help pet owners with various forms of canine cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, or holistic veterinary medicine). Because I was that pet owner who needed help.
In 2013, I rescued Beauregard from an intense abuse and neglect situation and gave him a new lease on life. He was skin-and-bones, and I battled with him to build strength and vitality over the next years. We were inseparable friends.
Then in 2016, my world crumbled. Beauregard was first diagnosed with cancer at Twin Oaks Veterinary Hospital in Sparta, North Carolina. Xrays were taken, and we were given pain medication and a prognosis of about 3 weeks. The advice was to make Beau comfortable and let him go. I asked about canine cancer treatment options and a referral to Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VCM) Oncology Services, and I was told, “If you can’t afford to pay this $78 bill, you can’t afford oncology services.” I came home that night in tears, desperate to find a way to save Beau. I posted on social media and asked for veterinary assistance to at least attend an oncology consultation. The next morning, I woke to find $460 in our GoFundMe account. We got our referral to VCM and scheduled the earliest possible appointment.
”I am with you. I love you. I support you in your struggle.”I remember crying and telling Dr. Patridge, the oncologist, that I had only $460 and to do whatever she can for that amount, but that I was unable to pay more that day. She agreed to work within my means and would strive to find treatment assistance options. After xrays, needle aspirates, an amputation evaluation, and other diagnostics, Beau received the heartbreaking official diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma. We started chemotherapy that day, all the while daunted by the rigorous treatment that this disease required to work toward remission.
I continued to share my need on social media and joined canine cancer support groups and breed-specific groups. I searched online for veterinary assistance organizations and spent every night crunching numbers, vigilant over every sneeze, cough, meal, and potty. I was overwhelmed, and the responsibility seemed endless. I slept very little, spending every moment trying to manage Beau’s condition and treatment.
Every day my routine included new videos, social media posts, and online auctions to solicit help. I sold personal possessions and ate Ramen noodles to make sure the funds were available for Beau’s chemotherapy. Along the way, I encountered a lot of naysayers and critics who disparaged the choice I had made and scoffed at the idea of helping someone pay for treatment for such a serious disease with a poor prognosis (histiocytic sarcoma is one of the hardest-to-treat canine cancers, and there is little research available).
But the outpouring of support — emotional, financial, psychological — was amazing. We reached our goal of $10,000, which paid for all of Beau’s chemotherapy and, when chemotherapy became ineffective in January 2017, holistic veterinary care (including herbs and supplements).
Beauregard and I lost our fight against histiocytic sarcoma on February 23, 2017. But because of our fight and the support of so many caring people, I know that we did everything possible to extend a good quality of life for him.
Before Beau crossed the rainbow bridge, I started this organization to help others in the way that I was helped and to work toward ensuring that no pet owner has to stop fighting canine cancer merely for financial reasons. No one is prepared emotionally, spiritually, or financially when cancer strikes. There are others who say, “It’s just a dog.” But to every canine cancer warrior out there, I say, “We know better. I am with you. I love you. I support you in your struggle.”