Pit Bull Rescue

ARFF MO © All rights reserved

In August, 2017, I was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia). One day everything is normal, the next day pure chaos and I am in the fight for my life. My initial treatment was in Columbia, MO. where I was hospitalized for 35 days. I was given a 20% chance of survival.

My only hope for a cure was with a bone marrow transplant in St. Louis at Barnes Jewish Hospital. A transplant raised my odds of survival to 50%. In January, 2018, I had my transplant. My new stem cells came from a 20 year old male in Europe of large stature. Most  stem cell/bone marrow transplants come from Germany as they have a mandatory registry. That does not mean they have to donate, only that they have to register. I have nicknamed my donor "Bruno Paul", and he was a perfect match for me. I thank him every day for his gift of my life. Change is defined as a "disruption of our expectations". My cancer diagnosis surely disrupted mine! 

My rescue went into crisis mode. There is no end to the list of "pit bulls" needing help, so we are always full. I am blessed with a truly amazing group of volunteers that took over the day to day running of ARFF MO, including the care of all the foster dogs, personal dogs, horses, goats, and cats at the Rock and Roll Ranch. This was no small task. Cancer is relentless. The treatment is relentless. I needed help every day, multiple times a day, and for months! ARFF MO has the best volunteers ever. They took turns with care of our animals as someone had to let dogs in and out at least 3 times a day. The lawn was mowed, house cleaned, and lots of emotional support given around the clock to my family and me. I know of no way to thank everyone that has helped out. 

I spent 30 days in the hospital after my transplant and another 35 days in the St Louis area at Hope Lodge, which provides lodging for cancer patients through the American Cancer Society. ARFF MO's volunteers banded together through this ordeal. After coming home, I had to make weekly trips back to Barnes Hospital for lab work and exams. This is slowly being weaned, but will be monthly, most likely for years.

Rosie Gould Rogers and my daughter, Janis, made some bracelets that say "ARFF MO PIT BULLS FIGHT CANCER, NOT DOGS". My dogs kept me going when things were toughest. My dogs gave me a reason to fight this dreaded disease. Many of our rescued dogs have had to fight to live, and now they are helping me to fight. I get out of bed to take care of my animals every day. I have big reasons to live, as the plight of the pit bull is huge. Of course my family is my priority, and I am a grandma of 4 beautiful grandchildren. Rescue is my passion. My niche is rescuing the "underdog".

I got to see Kevin, one of my dogs, when I was in hospitalized in Columbia. That visit meant so much to me. He is bonded to me, always at my side. When I was in St. Louis, I was surprised with a barbecue at my brother Steve's house, that turned out to be a pit bull puppy party! I had been very depressed after feeling cruddy for months and in "hospital prison" for about 4 months. Several of my volunteers and my family brought a litter of our 5 adorable pit bull puppies to see me! My spirits were brightened! ARFF MO Pit Bulls do fight cancer!

I want to thank everyone that has sent cards, prayed, and helped me in my endeavor. Dr Doll and Dr Letendre at Ellis Fischel, Dr Depersio and his excellent team at Barnes Jewish Hospital, my coworkers in PICU that held fund raisers and visited often, Spoiled Pets LLC in Cairo, MO. for boarding Jade and Rocketman for months (and loving on them), Pam and Becky at the Boonville Shelter for helping with Lucy, Neil and Lori Laverty for taking on my wildest child, Odie and rotating dog duties, Shelley Vogt and Travis Day for doing so much at my house on a daily basis, Brittney and Brandi Hoskins for rotating through dog duties, Gary and Linn Vaught and girls for helping out whenever needed, Christi and Sam Brooks and family including Mitchell for all your help, Chris Clark of Emily's Animal Welfare Food Bank through the Greater Good organization and anyone I may have missed. A special thanks to my family for encouraging me, pampering me, and helping with day to day decisions and emotional support. Of course I thank Bruno Paul for his gift, and I hope to meet him some day! I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement that I have received through Facebook and from people that became part of the ARFF MO family by adopting one of our dogs. If I have forgotten you, I apologize for that. It was not meant to be an oversight.

I take things day by day, and am so far doing great! That is how I plan to keep it.

Bless you all! 

Kathryn Ward

​Founder of ARFF MO


Me with our puppies at my surprise barbecue!