Lauren Gauthier had rescued her dog Victoria.
In a way, Victoria was returning the favor.
As Sweet Buffalo reports, Gauthier has a deep love for dogs. She even runs a dog rescue, which is how she found Victoria. The one-eyed hound was rescued from a shelter in Kentucky before finding a home with Gauthier in Amherst, New York.
Hounds are known to have very sensitive noses, and that might be what prompted Gauthier to notice that Victoria was strangely drawn to a bump on her nose. In fact, the dog was so persistent about sniffing the same spot on Gauthier's nose that she decided to get checked.
That's when she learned the little bump that had attracted Victoria's attention was basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Gauthier told Love What Matters:
“I am so thankful for Victoria. She and I have always had a close bond and she senses when I’m upset or stressed; I had no idea she’d be able to detect that I had cancer lurking underneath my skin.”
According to the American Cancer Society, basal cell carcinomas most often appear on the head, hands, neck and other places that are commonly exposed to the sun, but they can appear anywhere. Early signs of basal cell cancer include:
- An open sore that may crust or ooze, but doesn't fully heal (or heals and returns).
- Flat, scar-like areas that are pale or yellow and firm.
- Pink or red bumps that have a translucent or pearly shine. They may have black, blue, or brown areas.
- Pink growths that are lower in the center and have raised edges. The growth may have abnormal blood vessels spread through them.
- Raised patches that are reddish in color and may itch.
Fortunately, Gauthier caught her cancer early and was able to get treated before it spread or became more serious.
She shared the treatment journey online, and credits Victoria for helping save her life.
Gauthier doesn't hide the fact that she might not have gotten the spot checked by a doctor if it hadn't been for her dog. She told Sweet Buffalo:
“It really is amazing that my dog was so persistent in sniffing the area that was skin cancer. The surgery itself has changed my face, and if my dog had not picked up on it, I may have ignored the spot, which could have risked further disfigurement. Hounds have a keen sense of smell but I never thought that I would personally benefit from it!”
Though her face has been altered by the treatment, Gauthier says she's feeling better and doesn't want others to worry. She told Sweet Buffalo “You will heal” and focused her attention on warning teens and others about the dangers of tanning.
Gauthier says the tanning habits of her younger days are responsible for the skin cancer. She told Sweet Buffalo that teens and devoted tanners should consider a safer option, like spray tanning:
“The cost and the damage you do to your skin is way too high, and even though growing older seems a world away, once you are older, you will pay a price for tans and tanning beds.”
One of the things that Gauthier says makes it especially “rewarding” that Victoria helped save her is the fact that she rescued Victoria through her own organization, Magic's Mission Beagle & Hound Rescue. As Gauthier told Love What Matters:
“[I] devote much of my life to saving hounds who have been abused or neglected. It seems Victoria and her keen skills are the way that the hounds decided to give back to me.”