Cancer is one of the common causes of death in dogs, with one in four dogs predicted to get cancer at some point in their lifetime. These dogs may now have a brighter future thanks to unprecedented fundraising by the Zoe’s Journey UK campaign to help research cancer in dogs. Read their full story here:

19 June 2018

AHT celebrates with dedicated online fundraising group, Zoe’s Journey UK, who collectively over three and a half years have raised a staggering £135,000 to help research cancer in dogs.

During the visit to the AHT on Tuesday 19 June Zoe’s Journey UK  founder, Jayne May, announced the group has a new fundraising target: to reach £150,000 by December 2019. We have every confidence that this dedicated fundraising group (who have all met through Facebook) will hit their new target in record time.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone from Zoe’s Journey UK (ZJUK) who has made this incredible fundraising possible and to all who attended our event in June to celebrate this group’s achievement and to learn more about the AHT’s cancer research to help dogs, led by Dr Mike Starkey. The cherry tree and ZJUK bench unveiled on the day will be wonderful reminders of the support ZJUK have given to the AHT over the last three years, and for many more years to come.

Together, we can fight cancer in dogs. To find out more about our canine cancer research and the types of cancer samples we need to help progress our research, please click here.

Zoe's Journey UK members celebrate their achievements for cancer research in dogs after a commemorative cherry tree and bench were unveiled in June 2018.

22 February 2017

Zoe’s battle with cancer

In 2013 Zoe, a Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  Her owner, Jayne May, had managed to spot then 12-year-old Zoe’s swollen glands immediately and Zoe was taken straight to her vet, Steve Tasker, for assessment. Zoe was promptly started on chemotherapy treatment which she responded incredibly well to, despite her age, and was very soon in remission. Less than two years later, at 14 years old, she was given a clean bill of health for a dog of her age. She had beaten cancer.

While Zoe was battling cancer she became somewhat of a Facebook star between Golden Retriever owners. Her story gave thousands hope that their dogs could too have a chance if they were diagnosed with cancer.

Zoe’s Journey UK

In January 2015 Zoe’s Journey UK was born, a dedicated online fundraising group to raise money to help research cancer in dogs. The popularity of this group has gone from strength to strength over the years, supported by celebrity, Mark Labbett, ‘The Beast’ from ITV’s The Chase.

The campaign has now reached the incredible £100,000 milestone (split over two Just Giving pages, one about Golden Retrievers and one about Boxers). The ambitious target set in August 2016, four months after Zoe sadly passed away peacefully in her sleep from natural causes. Zoe was aged 14 and a half and cancer-free.

Jayne May, founder of the campaign, said: “Zoe’s Legacy now lives on in Lucie, her daughter. Zoe’s Journey UK exists to improve the future for dogs who are diagnosed with cancer as today, not all of them make it.

“In the future, only through breakthroughs in research, will they have a much better chance. We need to reduce the odds of one in four dogs getting cancer, before that awful statistic starts getting higher.

“£100,000 will help researchers at the Animal Health Trust do this. £100,000 may even lead to a discovery in dogs that could help humans too, to fight cancer. Together, we can – and must – make a difference. Dogs give us so much, we have to help protect them, and help them live the healthiest lives possible.”

Cancer research at the Animal Health Trust

The AHT’s research takes several different approaches – in the clinic and in the lab – to help dogs fight cancer. By combining veterinary and scientific expertise, its aim is to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer for dogs all around the world.

Dr Mike Starkey, Head of Molecular Oncology Research at the AHT, said: “This incredible fundraising campaign is a huge boost to my team’s work. Cancer research in dogs, compared to cancer research in humans, has been under-funded. Now, thanks to Zoe’s Journey UK, we know that we have the funds in place to help support our work at the Animal Health Trust for the next two years at least, which is making a massive difference to our research.

“There are around 200 different types of cancer that affect dogs and we’re currently researching five of the most common malignant cancers to gain a better understanding of how they develop, how they spread and how they respond to treatment, in order to help dogs live healthier and happier lives and to help vets better diagnose, manage and control cancer in their patients.”

We’re really grateful to Jayne and everyone that has supported Zoe’s Journey UK for all of their hard work, kindness and continued support.  A lot of our research projects are in the early stages, but we’re really excited about where this money can help us get to, for the future health of countless dogs.

Dr Mike Starkey
Dr Mike Starkey, Head of Molecular Oncology

26 August 2016

The ‘Zoe Brings It Home, £100,000 for the AHT’ campaign is their next big step in the fight against canine cancer and was launched on Tuesday 23 August by Mark Labbett at the vet practice in Portishead, Bristol, where Jayne’s dog, Zoe, was treated for Lymphoma.

The Zoe’s Journey UK fund for the Animal Health Trust has been hugely successful. Initially, Jayne set out to raise £5,000 for the AHT, inspired by her own experiences after Zoe, a Golden Retriever, defied the odds and beat lymphoma at age 13.

Zoe continued to live a happy life free from cancer but sadly passed away earlier this year, at almost 15 years of age. Since January 2015 the ZJUK fund for the AHT has raised £68,000, and now, with celebrity support from Mark Labbett, the ZJUK team has committed to raising £100,000 for the AHT!

Unfortunately, for some breeds, like Golden Retrievers, cancer seems to pose a higher risk. Zoe’s Journey UK has formed a supportive online community through Facebook for dog owners battling the disease in their pets, determined to make a difference through their fundraising efforts which include: a community auction, merchandise, raffles, sky dives, cycling challenges and events.

Jayne May said: “Launching the £100k campaign is unbelievable; I never thought we would raise so much. I am so grateful and proud of my group who have made this possible and thank every one of them. It is so important for the future of dogs as far as cancer is concerned. A lot of people don’t even know that dogs get cancer, and it’s a big problem.

“On our Facebook group, it seems as if dogs are dying of cancer every week. It’s devastating. Losing a dog is never easy but if it’s a young dog who has lost its life to cancer, that’s just not right and we need to do something about it. Some dogs are fortunate enough to beat cancer, but as in humans, there are no guarantees. As an owner, you’re trying so hard to do the right thing by your dog and can feel so helpless.

“My Zoe survived cancer, and it’s only through research that we can find out what makes some dogs different and harness this to one day protect more dogs from cancer. Also, any advances made in cancer research in dogs can also have benefits for humans, so it’s even more crucial that we work together to help man’s best friend fight this horrible disease.”

Mark Labbett has a young Golden Retriever called Baloo and knows first-hand how having a dog can change your life:  “We wouldn’t be without our dog now so we’re happy to support anything that might improve his quality of life in the future, as well as other dogs and that of their families. Dogs give you so much, it’s important that we’re able to offer them the very best treatment when they need it, and in order to do that, as with humans, you depend on advances being made through scientific research. This is a really worthwhile cause and it’s just amazing what they’re trying to achieve.”

Steve Tasker of Watkins and Tasker Veterinary Practice, who treated Jayne’s dog Zoe, said: “It’s unbelievable what Jayne has achieved and we’re 100% behind her all the way. Zoe was an incredible dog, and she was proof that dogs with cancer can have a happy ending. But not enough is known yet, as in humans, about why some individuals respond better to treatment than others and that’s why research is so important.”

Front: Jayne May, her dogs, Whitnie and Sophie and Steve Tasker of Watkins and Tasker. Back: Claire Walkley, Head Nurse at Watkins & Tasker Portishead Practice, Marie-France Vincent of Animal Health Trust, Katie Labbett, Mark Labbett, Pete Williams, (ZJUK), Marilyn Dickens (ZJUK) (front right) and Susan Holloway (ZJUK). 

Zoe’s Legacy at the Animal Health Trust

The Animal Health Trust is the only UK charity with a dedicated canine cancer research team and we are putting the Zoe’s Journey UK funds towards a new research project into lymphoma, one of the most common canine cancers and the cancer Zoe had.

The donation has also supported on-going research to develop a new prognostic test for vets treating dogs with mast cell tumours, the most common type of skin cancer in dogs. The AHT also has state-of-the-art facilities for treating dogs with cancer in its purpose-built Cancer Centre, which is part of its specialist referral clinic, and trains vets of the future wanting to specialise in veterinary oncology.

Dr Mike Starkey, Head of Molecular Oncology Research at the AHT, said: “There are around 200 different types of cancer that affect dogs. We’re currently researching five of the most common malignant cancers in dogs to gain a better understanding of how they develop, how they spread and how they respond to treatment, in order to help vets fight cancer.”

“Jayne has set herself an enormous target but we’re confident that she’ll make it as she and her team continue to amaze and inspire. This special cause is so very close to her heart and without support from people like her, we wouldn’t be able to do our vital research. We’re really grateful to Jayne, and everyone that has supported Zoe’s Journey UK, for all of their hard work, kindness and continued support.”

A cheque for £58,000 was presented to the Animal Health Trust by Zoe’s Journey UK members and celebrity guest, Mark Labbett, from ITV’s The Chase, on Monday 25 April 2016 at a special celebration event in Newmarket to mark the milestone.

26 April 2016

Initiated in January 2015 by Jayne May, after her 13-year-old Golden Retriever, Zoe, was given the all clear from lymphoma, more than 600 Golden Retriever lovers have united to fight cancer in their beloved pets under Zoe’s Journey UK.

In just over a year, more than £58,000 has been raised and the committed group show no signs of slowing down. In the words of the founder, they want to “Kick canine cancer’s butt”.

Unfortunately, for some breeds, like Golden Retrievers, cancer seems to pose a higher risk. Zoe’s Journey UK has formed a supportive online community through Facebook for dog owners battling the disease, determined to make a difference through their fundraising efforts which include: an on-going online community auction, merchandise sales, raffles, monthly direct debits and events.

Jayne May said: “Initially, I set out to raise £5,000 for the Animal Health Trust. I never could have dreamt that the campaign would achieve £58,000 in just over a year. It’s been absolutely crazy but everyone is 100% committed to this cause.

“On our Facebook group, it seems as if dogs are dying of cancer every week. It’s devastating. Losing a dog is never easy but if it’s a young dog who has lost its life to cancer, that’s just not right and we need to do something about it.

“My Zoe survived cancer, and it’s only through research that we can find out what makes some dogs different and harness this to one day protect more dogs from this horrible disease. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

The Animal Health Trust is the only UK charity with a dedicated canine cancer research team and it is putting the Zoe’s Journey UK funds towards a new research project into lymphoma, the cancer Zoe had, which is the most common canine cancer. The donation has also supported on-going research at the charity to develop a new prognostic test for vets treating dogs with mast cell tumours, the most common type of skin cancer in dogs.

The charity also has state-of-the-art facilities for treating dogs with cancer in its purpose-built Cancer Centre and trains vets wanting to specialise in veterinary oncology.

Zoe’s Legacy

Sadly, Zoe, Jayne’s inspiration behind the campaign, passed away of old age at the beginning of April. She was almost 15 years old and free from cancer. Zoe remains the inspiration for many and leaves a lasting legacy behind her – helping to improve the lives of several other dogs in this important fight against cancer.

Dr Mike Starkey, Head of Molecular Oncology Research at the AHT, said: “Cancer affects one in four dogs, and as dogs make up such a big part of people’s families, losing a dog to cancer can be a really hard thing to deal with. We’re really grateful, and humbled, that Zoe’s Journey UK has chosen us as the beneficiaries of this fundraising campaign.

“Sadly, cancer research in dogs is quite poorly funded so the Zoe’s Journey UK campaign is a huge boost to our research, especially when you consider that any advancements made in cancer research in dogs could have benefits for people too.”

Mark Labbett, celebrity supporter of Zoe’s Journey UK, added: “I’ve had my Golden Retriever, Baloo, now for the best part of a year and it changes your life. It’s really inspiring what Jayne and this team of people have been able to achieve and I’m happy to be here to help, in any way that I can, something that could potentially help improve the quality of life for Baloo as well as other dogs, and their families.”

The AHT's Andrew Simmonds with founder of Zoe's Journey UK, Jayne May, and Zoe - June 2015

22 June 2015

Zoe’s Journey UK, named after Golden Retriever Zoe who battled (and beat!) lymphoma, raises staggering amount for Animal Health Trust

Jayne May, from Bristol, pledged to raise £5,000 for the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in early 2015.  She wanted to do something to give dogs a better chance of fighting this terrible disease after three of her own dogs have been badly affected by cancer.

A long term member of the Facebook Group, Golden Retrievers England UK, Jayne turned to the online Group (which had offered her emotional support when her dog Zoe was diagnosed with lymphoma nearly two years ago, aged 12,) for help.

The support Jayne received was unimaginable and today the total amount raised stands well over £24,000.

35 committed supporters of Zoe’s Journey UK attended a celebratory event at the AHT, one of the UK’s leading veterinary charities, based near Newmarket, Suffolk, on Zoe’s 14th birthday, Friday 19 June, to mark their special achievement to date.

Jayne said: “Zoe has defied the odds and after carefully monitored and controlled chemotherapy treatment at Watkins and Tasker Veterinary Group in Bristol, she stands here today clear of lymphoma 20 months after her diagnosis.

“But unfortunately, not many dogs are as lucky as Zoe and sadly I’ve seen too many dogs lost to this horrible disease through friends, family and the Facebook Group.

“I wanted to try and make a difference by raising £5,000 for canine cancer research at the AHT – which I thought was an ambitious target back in January! The support for Zoe’s Journey UK from all over the country, and abroad, has just been incredible.

“Groups of people have come together to hold cake sales, garden parties, walks, you name it, it’s happened: a lady in Cornwall even shaved her head! We’ve had people completing marathons and even climbing Ben Nevis, it’s really taken off and is so much bigger than I ever thought it would be – mainly down to people I’ve never even met before. They have come together as a “Team” fighting for the dogs, to give them a better chance.

“We’ve also had a running auction through Facebook since February where anyone can get involved by listing an item and all of the money goes straight to the AHT through the Just Giving Page.

“The power of people to rally behind a cause as important as this is truly amazing and I’m so grateful to everyone who has dedicated their time and money to supporting the AHT through Zoe’s Journey UK.

“Zoe wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my vets, Steve Tasker and Liz Watkins, and the knowledge they have thanks to organisations like the AHT who are doing so much to improve the knowledge of how to treat diseases like cancer. Hopefully now many more dogs will have a better chance at fighting this disease in the future.”

The Animal Health Trust has a dedicated, state-of-the-art cancer centre for treating horses, dogs and cats with cancer and its expert teams of vets and scientists are undertaking multiple research projects to gain a better clinical and scientific understanding of canine cancers, and ways to better diagnose and treat the disease.

During the Zoe’s Journey UK visit tours were given of the AHT’s facilities and presentations were heard from the AHT’s Head of Molecular Oncology Research, Dr Mike Starkey, about the work to further veterinary understanding of canine cancers.

A plaque was also unveiled to mark the achievements and continuing support of Zoe’s Journey UK for the AHT.

Andrew Simmonds, Head of Individual Giving at the Animal Health Trust, said: “The Zoe’s Journey UK team have to be one of our most successful fundraising groups to date and it’s just incredible the way that they’ve been able to galvanise such support through social media alone.

“The sense of community spirit between dog lovers, especially those who have sadly been affected by a cancer in their animal, and the heartbreaking prospect of losing them to the disease, is really overwhelming. We’re so grateful to Zoe’s Journey UK for choosing to support our canine cancer research and can’t wait to see what’s next for this amazing campaign which seems to be unstoppable in what they can achieve!

“We know that one in four dogs will get cancer at some point in their lifetime but with quick diagnosis and the right treatment, it can be very treatable.

“We’re improving our knowledge of how to treat and diagnose cancer all the time through the work in our clinic, which our vets share with the profession, and we’re really excited about the scientific research currently underway in our labs, which, in time, could make a significant difference to the lives of many dogs affected by this terrible disease.

Thanks to extraordinary supporters like Jayne May, and all those who give to our cancer research, we’re one step closer to finding the answers and fighting cancer in our dogs.

Andrew Simmonds
Andrew Simmonds, Assistant Director of Fundraising

For more information about Zoe’s Journey UK, go to: http://www.zoesjourneyuk.com or https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jayne-May1 or search Zoe’s Journey UK on Facebook.