Hope for Handsome Moose

My name is Brittany McLaughlin,  and I live in Savannah, Ga.  I am reaching out to you in an effort to find some support.

I am the proud owner of a very handsome male boxer named Sampson.  He is the love of my life and my very best friend.  He has been my rock through some of the hardest of times and is the very reason that I keep going some days.  I would like to share my story.

Sampson has been a fun-loving boy and my personal Angel here on earth for most of his life.  He came to me in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and truly helped get me through so much loss.  He has helped so many people as well as other animals, and now he needs help.

A few months back Sampson started to act differently. He was not himself, and it did not seem as simple as him becoming an "old dog."  He was lethargic, had a diminished appetite, had trouble seeing, expressed significant changes in character and personality, and became generally aloof.  As would any mom, I became very concerned.  He was due for his routine annual, so we decided to run some bloodwork. Everything looked normal, so I decided, with his doctor, to watch him and attributed his changes to his getting older.

Within the following month, his symptoms progressed, and I became more and more worried.  I spoke to his primary veterinarian, and we decided to take some x-rays and recheck his bloodwork.  He showed some arthritis in his back, and his bloodwork was normal again.  We started some anti-inflammatories and treatment for the arthritis, as it may have been related to some back pain.

Another 5-6 weeks passed with little positive change in his condition.  He expressed minute changes for the better with regard to physical activity, but the other symptoms seemed to worsen. He stopped eating almost entirely, was becoming increasingly uncoordinated, his vision waxed and waned, and weight loss had become significant.  I was watching my boy struggle more and more everyday, and there seemed to be nothing I could do.  Sampson had been so much to me and had always been there when I needed him, and I could not reciprocate when he needed me most.  I had never felt so helpless or hopeless. 

At this point we decided to see a specialist.  His doctor referred us to a neurologist at the Charleston Veterinary Referral Center.  After travelling to Charleston for an MRI, it was found that Sampson had a pituitary tumor.  The doctor described the options from there, which included radiation, which would only diminish the tumor, or surgery, which could rid it.  Wanting to do anything I could for my boy, I asked his doctor what he would do.  He recommended reaching out to the surgeon familiar with the surgery and asking her advice and said that surgery was the direction he would go if it was feasible, while also informing me that it is very pricey.

The newest problem, however, was that the surgeon he knew of was in transition from L.A. to Florida.  They decided that he should recommend radiation until she could get up and running in Florida.  That would not be until March, and Sampson could not wait that long.  I asked if she might still have access to the facility in L.A. and said that I would go to her.  I was not sure how I would do it, but I had to do something.  The neurologist admitted that he was not sure, as he did not realize to what extent I would or could go.  He had been incredibly supportive and helpful to this point and offered to continue that trend and do some more research and see what the options were from here.

It was at that point that we learned that the other doctor would not be able to do anything anywhere until March, but she directed us to another doctor at Washington State University.  I spoke to her about the surgery, and there was a brief moment of assurance followed by a disheartening onset of reality. 

I decided, nonetheless, to look her up and read about her including: any reviews, publications, or general history regarding her veterinary experience.  I found an article related to a patient who had the same surgery a few weeks ago.  It made me smile and brought back that hope that I have been longing for over the last few months.  The only problem was then that I did not have the funds, or a private donor like the previous patient, to afford the surgery or the transportation to get me to Washington.  It is not recommended that we drive, as it is over 2,000 miles and the terrain and climate changes would be so much for him to handle.  Additionally, as many know, he is not permitted on a commercial flight, as he is not small enough to be a carry-on, and he cannot go in the cargo area due to his brain tumor.  

At this point I am looking for any support that I can find.  I have applied for medical transport groups that work with animals in need of air transport, and now I am looking for anyone who might be kind enough to help me, in any way, in my boy's time of need.

Thank you, in advance, for taking some time out to read my boy's story.  And thank you for helping me save my blessing in life.


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Kim Graham 
Savannah, GA
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