The Brodie Fund

Closing the pet-cancer-care funding gap
By Jen Sotolongo, May 2018
Photos Jen Sotolongo

Photos Jen Sotolongo

In the fall of 2017, I noticed an irregularly shaped mass growing on our dog Sora’s right wrist, just above the scar from the tumor removal a Chilean vet had performed a little over a year prior while we were bicycle touring in South America. We already knew the prognosis. This hungry, aggressive cell was taking over her leg.

Our talented local veterinarian managed to remove the majority of this new tumor, but due to its location and jellyfish-like shape, eliminating all of the spindly fibers tangled amongst her nerves and muscle tissue was impossible. However, the vet said that Sora was a candidate for electrochemotherapy (ECT), a relatively new type of cancer treatment.

As is often the case, this treatment was pricey, and we wondered where the money for it would come from. But we were committed to finding a way; even at 13, Sora still acts like a young pup, nowhere near close to slowing down. Turning to GoFundMe, we launched a campaign that—thanks to the generosity of family, friends and Sora’s fans—raised nearly half the amount needed.

Then, kismet stepped in.

My participation in a Facebook blogger-sharing thread resulted in a Brodie Fund board member discovering Sora’s story. She took an interest in our case, which rapidly led to a generous grant for Sora’s ECT treatment.

The Brodie Fund was created in 2015 by Sally Williams, whose cat, Brodie, underwent radiation for nasal cancer. After treatment, Brodie lived for 13 months before ultimately crossing over the Rainbow Bridge in September 2016. Williams had decided to treat Brodie, despite the cost and prognosis, because giving him extra time with his family was not up for debate.

During this experience, it became clear to Williams that it was a challenge for people to find funding for older animal cancer patients, or those with a low prognosis. She also learned that few foundations provide funding for cats, and that senior pets or those with shorter life expectancies have even fewer options.

Believing that no animal should go untreated due to financial restrictions, Williams set up the Brodie Fund with the mission to provide assistance to those in need. To date, the fund has issued 17 grants ranging from $500 to $4,000, and currently works with four vet hospitals on the East Coast. During the holidays, the fund provides one grant “in the season of giving” to a case outside their hospital network, and in 2017, Sora was the lucky recipient.

The organization hopes to eventually expand to the West, although those who guide it are cautious about growing too fast. They want to be able to reach as many families as they can while still maintaining the fund’s capacity to provide as much individual assistance as possible.

More than just a grant organization, the Brodie Fund sets itself apart in a unique way. Not only does it collaborate with vet hospitals to be sure their patients have positive experiences, it also has developed a network that feels like a family. The organization offers free counseling through the Team Brodie FB page, and, via its “Help a Pet Today” option, individuals may donate to a specific patient.

While other foundations may not provide for the underdog (or cat), the Brodie Fund steps in to help bridge the gap between need and treatment. To find out more, or to donate, go to thebrodiefund.org.

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