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April 27, 2020 – When Marejka Shaevitz was growing up, she thought her destiny was to be a human doctor. But life had other plans. Through a series of twists and turns, Marejka is now a veterinarian completing her residency in comparative oncology. She finds herself on this path because of two cancer diagnoses – one hers and the other her beloved golden retriever’s.

“In 2000, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and, thanks to chemotherapy, radiation therapy and all the research that came before me, I was fortunate to survive and wanted to give back,” said Marejka.

She ran marathons to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She celebrated life by welcoming her first golden retriever, Kimball, who became her constant companion. Until cancer reared its ugly head again. Marejka came home one day to find Kimball unable to rise.

The diagnosis was grim – hemangiosarcoma. Marejka chose palliative care, giving Kimball a little extra time to see her best friends. As difficult as Kimball’s diagnosis and death were for Marejka, it also was a turning point. A month after Kimball’s death, Marejka knew she wanted to be a veterinarian and needed to work in cancer.

She applied and was accepted to Oregon State University, and about the same time got her new golden retriever, Hana. She learned about the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and immediately enrolled Hana, who has been with Marejka through veterinary school and now as she finishes her training at Purdue University.

“My ultimate goal is to improve cancer prevention and treatment for everyone, including dogs and humans,” said Marejka, who has accepted an oncologist position at MedVet in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m excited to be involved in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study; with so much data about so many dogs, it’s exciting to imagine what we will discover.”