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Blum Animal Hospital First in City to Adopt Program to Promote Human Health

By Serena Dai | June 1, 2013 8:25am
 Blum Animal Hospital is the first in the city to collaborate with the  Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness,   a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about the silent symptoms of the cancer partly by having vets offer information.
Blum Hospital Adopts Ovarian Cancer Awareness Program
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LAKEVIEW — Kramer on "Seinfeld" is not the only person to feel more comfortable with a veterinarian than a human doctor.

Dr. Natalie Marks at Blum Animal Hospital has clients ask her about their own health afflictions daily  — and many refer to that old "Seinfeld" bit, she said with a laugh.

"It's common for clients to discuss pet health and talk about other things in their human world," she said. "Some of which I probably can't put into print."

Now Blum, 3219 N. Clark St., is hoping to capitalize on that comfort to promote the health of pet owners. Starting this week, it will be the first animal hospital in Chicago to collaborate with the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness program, a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness about the silent symptoms of the cancer.

The idea: Veterinarians are family doctors who promote all public health, not just those of the "furry family," Marks said.

Legally, veterinarians cannot diagnose humans, but since people discuss the issues anyway, a health discussion can be a springboard for people to see their physicians. As part of the program, Blum will display information in its offices about ovarian cancer symptoms such as unusual weight gain, headaches, bloating and back pain.

"We’ll hope that [information] reaches someone who is unaware or scared to talk about some of these signs," Marks said.

Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness's promotion of health through pets is no coincidence. Susan Roman, one of the founders, felt the need to see a doctor after her rottweiler mix dog Bacchus kept laying on her stomach during workouts, said Vallie Szymanski, a close friend of Roman who is also a founder.

Roman died of the cancer last year. Szymanski and Roman's husband Rick have continued the program by reaching out to animal hospitals, knowing that people's strong connections to their pets could be a way to help others detect the disease earlier than Roman did. 

"You take care of your pet, your pet takes care of you, and you need to take care of yourself," Szymanski said.

And for Blum, which has some 40,000 clients and prides itself on being a service for families, ovarian cancer awareness is just the first step in connecting pet health to human health, Marks said. She hopes that in the future, they'll be able to help more people understand their own health by way of their pets, from Lyme disease to obesity.

"Many people really want to treasure the bond with their pets," Marks said. "If your furry family’s dealing with something, and getting in shape helps them, it benefits everyone."