Linda Phillips Memorial Cancer Challenge

Click to open pdf


Linda Phillips and her daughter Kathrin Phillips-Ellis formed the dynamic team behind Rainyday Australian Shepherds. Linda’s laughter; enjoyment of life; and especially, life with dogs; were well known and shared by Aussie lovers around the country. When it became clear that more cancer information and Aussie blood samples were needed, Rainyday jumped at the challenge. They organized the Rainyday family for a blood draw and submission of a large family group.

Linda’s fierce commitment to the Australian Shepherd and her interest in improving long-term health and genetic soundness resulted in one of the earliest and largest sample sets submitted. In honor of Linda – and her love for Aussies – we offer a challenge to all Australian Shepherd owners, breeders and supporters – support the research, submit the samples, and share the information.

Click to view the 2014 ASCA Nationals Cancer Dog Memorial slide show.
Click to view the Linda Phillips Memorial Challenge slide show.
Help raise funds for research – purchase challenge logo items! 


What’s the Challenge? Do 100% of the below:

1. Contribute blood and tissue samples from affected dogs
2. Contribute blood samples from:
– Dogs you have already entered in the study – especially those who have been diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma since the original sample was submitted
– Unaffected related dogs as far out as a chain of blood samples can reach
Aussies who are 10+ years old who have not been diagnosed with cancer
3. Kennel commitment – samples/information from 100% of available dogs both in your kennel and from your kennel
4. Pedigrees
5. Historical data on dogs that had a soft tissue sarcoma or whose illness and manner of death strongly suggests that they did.
6. Donations and matching or challenge donations to support cancer research.

Research & treatment

      Our work would not be possible without the samples from your companions.
It takes a very special person who, as your dog is fading, stops and says, wait – there is research that can benefit from a sample of my beloved companion.
      And you then provided those samples to us.
                  I thank you. – Matthew Breen, PhD, North Carolina State University

What is a soft tissue sarcoma?

Malignant tumors that develop in tissues other than the bones, cartilage or nervous system. In Aussies the most common soft-tissue sarcomas are hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.

What is Hemangiosarcoma (HSA)?

– HSA is a “blood seeking” cancer. It is found in organs and locations with significant blood sources
– In Australian Shepherds, HSA has been found to be polygenic and very complex – more so than in other breeds
– Primary locations for HSA: liver, spleen and heart. Also occurs in the kidneys, lungs and along major arteries in legs or body
– Onset of HSA in Australian Shepherds has been recorded as young as 5 years of age – but most commonly occurs in the 7 – 12 year age range
– HSA is a very fast developing cancer – all too often, it is not suspected and diagnosed until the cancer is advanced and the dog has an internal bleeding event requiring veterinarian care
– At present, HSA continues to be a virulent, fast moving cancer, without successful treatments or management approaches

What is Lymphoma (LYM)?

– Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes
– This cancer spreads readily to the liver, lungs, brain, and other organs.
– The genetic changes in these cancer dogs are very similar to the characteristic changes found in humans with cancer
– Onset can occur in dogs as young as 1 year but most are middle-aged or older
– Survival rate for LYM is extremely low.
– LYM – B & T Types….further studies ongoing regarding the response to treatments for developing the most effective protocol to LYM
– Bone marrow transplant treatment for canine LYM is now available at North Carolina State University Vet School.
– LYM assays/tests being released soon
• Lymphoma assay….95% accuracy – gives responsiveness data to Doxorubicin
• Cytogenomic assay to separate lymphoma from histiocytic malignancy

For more info:

Dr. Matthew Breen’s Laboratory
Canine Cancer Genomics Study Participation (Help Line)
Telephone: 919.513.1466
Fax: 919.513.7301

Australian Shepherd Breed Study Liaison
Denise Brown