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Letters: Thank you, Dr. Miller, for saving my life


No matter how healthy you look and feel, cancer may be lurking in your body.

I never expected Veterinary Medicine to save my life. I did expect it to positively affect the lives of my patients through great clinical tips, comprehensive review articles, and those fabulous toxicology and behavior articles. But I'm happy to say Veterinary Medicine exceeded my expectations.

On July 2, 2007, I picked up the May 2007 issue of Veterinary Medicine to read over lunch. I always enjoy reading Dr. Robert M. Miller's musings in "Mind Over Miller," so I turned to the last page. His words caught my attention. I, too, had noticed young members of our profession appearing too often in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association obituary pages. Dr. Miller related personal experiences with cancer and made a plea to his colleagues to get screened regularly for cancer.

At 40 years old, I was not particularly remiss—my previous mammogram two and a half years earlier had been clear, and I had felt no masses—but I was a bit overdue. I had just been too busy with work to schedule the procedure—the exact scenario Dr. Miller identified in his article. So in the middle of my lunch, I got up from the table, went to the phone, and called my imaging center. An opening was available that afternoon, and four hours later I was getting a mammogram. Eleven days later (yes, Friday the 13th), after several additional imaging studies and biopsy samples, the diagnosis was reached: breast cancer.

It was fitting that I got the diagnosis via phone after landing in Washington, D.C., to attend the AVMA convention. Another veterinarian (bless you, Dr. Miller) via a veterinary journal (thank you, Veterinary Medicine) had given me the little prompt that I needed and that probably saved my life. Since the cancer was caught early, my medical team thinks it will be curable. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Miller, my profession, and Veterinary Medicine.

Now it is my turn to make the plea. Please schedule your screening tests today. No matter how healthy you look and feel, cancer may be lurking in your body, and early detection is the key to a successful treatment.

Jacqui Neilson, DVM, DACVB

Animal Behavior Clinic

809 S.E. Powell Blvd.

Portland, OR 97202

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