While cancer awareness for humans is at an all-time high, one woman is working to bring that same level of awareness about how the disease afflicts canine companions.

While cancer awareness for humans is at an all-time high, one woman is working to bring that same level of awareness about how the disease afflicts canine companions.

In June 2013, Hilary Seif lost her dog, Newman (the "new man" in her life), to cancer. It was the second dog that cancer had claimed from Seif, and she was heartbroken and frustrated.

"I was on my way home and I said, 'I have got to do something about this,' " she said.

So Seif decided to make her "own little difference in the world," and start a 5K run to raise money and awareness for canine cancer.

At first, the process of organizing the event was daunting. Seif couldn't find a location or the funding necessary, and thought she might be out of options. Then, while working as Otterbein University's assistant registrar for transfer services, she realized she had a much simpler option.

"I thought, 'Wait a second; I work at Otterbein,' " she said.

And Otterbein turned into her perfect location, hosting the event that saw about 700 people participate in 2014, the run's first year.

"Before the event, we didn't even have 200 people registered, and then, I thought that was great," Seif said. "But the day of, there were more than 500 more people (who) showed up. I was in shock."

The event raised more than $20,000, about $19,000 of which was donated to the MedVet Charitable Foundation.

Lisa Fulton, a veterinarian with MedVet, said canine cancer research can always use more funding, and that the awareness is just as helpful.

"The public has the misconception that nothing can be done for cancer in pets," she said. "That's definitely erroneous. We can utilize many of the same technologies used with humans to care for our pets."

The difference, she said, is that researchers and veterinarians focus on making the pets' lives as happy as possible.

"The vet community as a whole has felt very strongly that what we hope to do with our treatments, is prolong pets' comfortable lifespan," she said. "We try very hard to avoid the side effects that our human patients deal with."

After learning more about canine cancer and interacting with others in her position, Seif said she was surprised to encounter so many people and pets dealing with the situation she knows all too well.

"We all kind of live in our own little world sometimes, and I had the occasional coworker or friend (who had dealt with canine cancer)," she said. "But to see how many people who have been touched by it and how supportive everyone is with each other who have gone through it was great."

This year, Seif is aiming for a "bigger and better event," with 250 runners and 100 dogs already registered for the 5K -- which welcomes human and canine participants. There also will be a DJ and more than 20 exhibitors.

Activities such as paw print art, dog contests and informational presentations aim to keep even the non-runners entertained.

More importantly, Seif hopes to create the support groups akin to those that families of human cancer sufferers can access.

"Our pets are our family," she said. "When we have loved ones that pass away from cancer, everyone is very supportive. It's the same way with dogs."

The second annual 5K for K-9 Cancer Run/Walk begins at 10 a.m. April 25 at Otterbein University's cross country course, located just south of the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave. Day-of registration begins at 9 a.m.

Early registration for the 5K is $20 or $25 with a T-shirt. Costs are $5 more on the day of the race.

To register or for more information, visit otterbein.edu/Events/5kk9cancerrunwalk.