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McKenna, Chemo Superstar

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McKenna, Chemo Superstar
September 30, 2020

Congratulations, McKenna! Our resilient raccoon has been fighting cancer for over a year now, and October sees her 15th round of successful oral chemotherapy. What’s more, she’s living a full, comfortable life, says Dr. Allison Case, Northwest Trek veterinarian.

“It’s just mind-boggling,” says Dr. Case, who confirmed McKenna’s bladder cancer in summer 2019, and has treated her ever since with monthly doses of oral chemotherapy drugs. “She just keeps going. Usually in cases like this, the oncologists would be estimating her to live another three, six, maybe nine months. With McKenna they are so surprised – it’s just terrific.”

It’s also a testimony to the excellent daily care her keepers give her, not to mention the companionship of her companion McChord.

“They’re buddies,” says Dr. Case. “They play together, sleep together, eat and snuggle. And she has great interaction with her keepers as well.”

raccoon in clinic
McKenna undergoes IV chemotherapy treatment.

McKenna’s cancer was discovered after keepers noticed some blood in her urine in May 2019. Dr. Case tested samples and took x-rays, and finally an ultrasound-guided biopsy confirmed that the eight-year-old raccoon had transitional cell carcinoma.

A tumor in your bladder isn’t good news for anyone. Located where McKenna’s is, it can grow and block the flow of waste liquid out of the body from the kidneys. So Dr. Case and the consulting oncologist decided, immediately after the biopsy, to give a 20-minute dose of IV chemotherapy, while McKenna was already under anesthetic.

She recovered well, and after four weeks was given a five-day course of oral chemotherapy. Keepers worked hard and creatively to find tempting food they could put the medication into, three times a day (now two).

Their discovery? McKenna loves grape jelly. Ever since, her monthly dose has been mixed with that, and she licks it up enthusiastically.

Northwest Trek visitors can meet both raccoons in the Forest & Wetlands habitat whenever the park is open. Meanwhile, Dr. Case couldn’t be more pleased.

“Cancer can be devastating,” says the veterinarian. “But McKenna proves that in some cases, treatment can be life-changing.”

mcKenna the raccoon