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Most of us, when a beloved pet dies of cancer, we cry, we post about it on Facebook, maybe we create an online memorial, but then we move on. Certainly we don't try to change the outcome. Animals -- and people -- die of cancer. That's an unfortunate fact of life. But Luke Robinson was so devastated when his pup, Malcolm, died of cancer at a mere six years old, that he decided to find out why -- and hopefully find out why it happens to people, too.
Luke was given Malcolm by an ex-girlfriend. Up until then, he never much liked dogs. But Malcolm quickly became his "companion." At six years old, Malcolm was diagnosed with bone cancer, which devasted Luke. He felt like he'd taken great care of Malcolm and had "done everything" he could to keep a dog healthy, and yet he still got it. Luke wanted to know why. So instead of doing some Googling or reading some books, Luke quit his job in finance, put all his belongings in storage, and went in search of an answer. He started a charity, Two Million Dogs.
Luke and his other two dogs, Hudson and Murphy, set out to walk across 16 states, consulting with veterinarians along the way, and raising funds for a new project that would compare dog tumors to human tumors. Since they are usually so alike, comparative studies can be done to give insight into why people get cancer.
For example, dog and human tumors can be compared and markers found that can give clues on which tumors in human breasts become malignant, and why. Through that, the scientists working on the project hope to find new treatments.
Sadly, all of this didn't save Murphy, who recently died of nasal cancer. But Luke is still working on a cure for pooches and humans alike. Both Murphy and Malcolm would be proud.
Do you think studying dogs can help humans?
Image via ABC