Two years ago, Jayne May and her dog Zoe set out on a mission to raise vital funds to help improve the lives of dogs affected by cancer. Their efforts have raised almost £100,000 towards canine cancer research.
One in four dogs will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of ten. Jayne is all too aware of the devastating affect a cancer diagnosis can have after her Golden Retriever Zoe was diagnosed with stage three Lymphoma in August 2013 aged 12.
Zoe commenced chemotherapy straight away and was given the all clear in March 2015, but the experience got Jayne thinking about the thousands of animals who don't make it. So, in January 2015 Jayne got in touch with the Animal Health Trust (AHT) to raise funding and awareness for their Canine Cancer Research Centre, based in Newmarket.
Jayne set up the Facebook page Zoe's Journey UK and set a fundraising goal of £5,000. Through their fundraising events such as community auctions, raffles, sky dives, cycling challenges and events, it didn't take long to surpass this goal. The fundraising has been so successful the current total figure now stands at a whooping £98,000!
On their main fundraising page, Jayne says, "There was a time when there was no hope for Lymphoma, now we have Chemo, but we need funds to help the AHT research into all these cancers that sadly take these dogs away from us so quickly. Lymphoma is very quick but there is treatment. However, for many cancers there is nothing we can do. They shouldn't just die when we can help research."
Zoe passed away cancer-free on 2 April 2016, at 14 years old, but her owner has continued her legacy and has been nominated for the Pet Plan Charity Volunteer of the Year 2017.
Jayne says, "I am very proud of all the members of TEAM ZOE who have come together, supported me and the legacy Zoe has left and have now helped to make a difference to the future of thousands of dogs yet to be born as far as cancer is concerned.
"As for the £100k? Well, I often think back to that day I rang the AHT and asked could I become a fundraiser? They asked if I had a target and I said the first thing that came into my mind. Err...£5,000 in a year? Is that ok?
"When I got back, Marilyn Dickens who runs Zoe's Journey UK with me asked what happened. I said I would raise £5k in a year. She said 'Why on earth did you say that? How are we possibly going to do that?"
Andrew Simmonds, Head of Individual Giving and Trusts at the Animal Health Trust, said, "The AHT is blown away by the success of ZJUK and the amazing contribution this dedicated group of fundraisers are making towards cancer research in dogs. ZJUK funds are driving AHT projects investigating lymphoma and mast cell tumours; lymphoma being one of the most common cancers affecting several different breeds, including affect Golden Retrievers, and mast cell tumours being one of the most common skin cancers in dogs. One in four dogs are affected by cancer and with the help of ZJUK we are determined to reduce these alarming statistics."
If you would like to donate to Zoe's Journey, visit their fundraising page.
Main picture: Zoe (Credit: Facebook/Zoe's Journey