Lauren Gauthier of Amherst, New York, runs Magic’s Mission, an animal rescue organization. She is now a skin cancer survivor. Surprisingly, she thanks her dog, Victoria.
Gauthier became the new owner of Victoria, a Treeing Walker Coonhound. Victoria came into the mission with an infected eye, after a hunter surrendered her. During Victoria’s stay, Gauthier became smitten and took her in.
In spring 2017, Gauthier noticed that Victoria often stared at her owner’s right nostril. Gauthier thought it was a pimple, but Victoria often stared at it and even touched it with her nose. The red dot would fade, but Victoria would still stare at the area.
When the dot returned again, so did Victoria’s obsessive staring. Gauthier finally decided to visit her doctor about the matter.
Gauthier’s biopsy showed that the seemingly innocuous dot was actually basal cell carcinoma. This is a common form of skin cancer that affects up to four million people per year.
Gauthier’s doctor recommended her for Mohs surgery. This procedure removes the infected skin layer by layer. In her situation, this meant removing a flap of skin from the top portion of her nose. This would then cover the hole cancer would leave behind.
As she mentally prepped for this surgery, Gauthier shared that she had frequented tanning beds when she was younger. She poses that this is likely linked to her skin cancer. Due to this, she encourages people to discontinue their use of tanning beds and to be mindful about wearing sunscreen.
Months after the surgery, Gauthier is mending. She says, “My nostril looks a bit like it’s being lifted by a fish hook but if I want to fix that, I have to wait a year to fully heal.”
The Nose Knows
Dogs are known for having an extraordinary sense of smell, but it’s not just for finding your leftover crumbs from dinner.
It’s not uncommon for dog’s to sniff out cancer in humans. The medical journal The Lancet published several notable cases in 2001 that were similar to Gauthier’s. These pups were able to cancers from malignant melanoma to basal cell carcinoma.
Gauthier appreciates her close bond with Victoria. She is equally grateful for her dog’s sharp sense of smell. Thanks to Victoria, they’ve got a lot of years ahead together!
“Victoria and I always had a close bond — we like taking selfies on the couch — and she’s been such a great support system,” she says. “I’m super grateful to her, and love her to pieces.”
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