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Vet oncologist fighting cancer

The doctor has become the patient

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is not unusual for the media to talk to a cancer specialist about fighting the disease and about their efforts to help their patients.

But it is different when the doctor who usually helps patients is a patient herself.

Dr. Tracey LaDue at Southeast Veterinary Oncology has a lot on her plate; a sick mother, she has two boys to raise and a career that keeps her strong by reminding her of why her work and even her battle are so important.

LaDue said she never really had to worry about her health, until last year.

"Here I am an oncologist and I totally shrugged it off to that and my mother said you need to go in and have that evaluated," said LaDue.

LaDue thought of her mother when doctors told her it was just a cyst and she demanded they do further tests. Those tests revealed she had breast cancer and was also in a fight against stage 4 lung cancer.

"Much more aggressive, cure is not in her world, cure is in my world. I'm going to beat this and there is every chance that I'm going to beat this," said LaDue. "She's right there with me through all these appointments and I've been right there with her for all those appointments."

Appointments that are familiar because as a veterinarian oncologist, LaDue administers very similar treatment to her patients, and she's able to see how the pet and people worlds collide.

"That's what we do in the vet oncology world. I can get that information the same day and it's helpful that we can all work together rather than being a separate entity," said LaDue.

LaDue said that faith plays a huge role in her ability to get through this part of her life. LaDue is scheduled for a mastectomy next month and she said she's strong and ready to face the challenge.