In 2011, Terry Simon’s Border collie, Reveille, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and lymphoma. Devastated and unsure how to channel his emotions, Terry decided to start a foundation to raise money for canine cancer research. “I took my grief and allowed it to inspire me,” says Terry. “I had no clue what I was going to do or how to do it. I just felt that I needed to do something instead of feeling sorry for myself and for Reveille.” In February, 2012, Terry became the sole founder of a 501(c)3 foundation called CLEAR.
Dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of canine lymphoma through clinical studies, CLEAR has donated over $11,000 to canine cancer research in the past year alone. But it took a lot of time and effort to make it this far. “When I came up with the idea to start a cancer foundation, I thought I would just raise money to give it to another foundation,” says Terry. “I sent emails to several of the big canine cancer foundations for their help…and they never replied.” But Terry was determined to make a difference in the lives of other pet parents and dogs like Reveille, so he pressed on.
Eventually, CLEAR garnered some attention. Dr. Greg Ogilvie, one of the top veterinary oncologists in the United States, spoke with Terry about his goals for the foundation. He encouraged him to raise money for canine cancer research rather than doling it out to other organizations. Grateful for the guidance, Terry followed Dr. Ogilvie’s advice. Step by step, he continued to spread the word about CLEAR’s mission. Knowing he had to reach more people, he created My Friend: Changing the Journey – a documentary about canine lymphoma.
After seeing the success of his first film, Terry decided to make another documentary. Written and produced in 2017, A Reason to Change is a hybrid documentary – a mix of old school MTV music videos and underlying serious commentary about canine lymphoma. “We wanted to cross boundaries, which we didn’t cross with My Friend,” says Terry. “Trying to get the word out is difficult. People need to be drawn to the information, especially since there is so much out there.” Thanks to a unique style, a dedicated staff, and the help of Veterinary Cancer Group, A Reason to Change has won multiple awards. It is currently streaming on FidoTV.
Today, CLEAR is supporting research at Cornell University. A project led by Dr. Kristy Richards is working to find new therapies, treatments and hopefully a cure for canine lymphoma. In the meantime, Terry is continually inspired by the constant stream of letters and emails he receives from pet parents thanking him for what CLEAR is doing. “They say that out of bad comes good,” says Terry. “Losing Reveille was one of the hardest moments in my life, but what has come out of the loss is something I’ll always cherish.”
CLEAR’s website offers information on canine lymphoma and other cancers. To help support the cause watch and share A Reason to Change to spread the word that canine cancer is not always death sentence.