Animal Planet’s highest rated series, Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet, reaches over 1 million viewers every week. While the show’s star, a passionate and charismatic veterinarian named Dr. Jeff Young, has spent much of his life working to heal pets, he now has a much more personal health fight to win.
On a recent episode of the wildly popular show, Dr. Young revealed his cancer diagnosis, B-cell Lymphoma. The diagnosis came after doctors found an eight-centimeter tumor in his lung.
One of the many unique characteristics of the vet is his shoulder-length graying hair. To prepare for cancer treatment, he decided it would be best to cut it off.
During the episode entitled “Turning Point,” fans watched as Dr. Jeff’s wife, Petra, slowly cut his long locks of hair and shaved his head. Afterwards, his wife tenderly kisses her veterinarian husband.
“I’d rather lose my hair than lose my life,” Dr. Young said with optimism in his voice. “My hair will grow back, it’s a small price to pay.”
Later he tells his clinic staff everything is going to be all right, and no one needs to worry about him. Dr. Jeff notes all the things he has done in his life, including scuba diving and mountain climbing.
People often recognize Dr. Young from the show and stop him outside the clinic to talk or get autographs. Yet, despite his fame and the cancer finding, he doesn’t let the extra attention take away from his vital work at the animal clinic.
“I don’t see myself as a hero or anything like that. Attitude is everything in life. Had my last pet scan done today, hoping I’m free and clear, but even if it’s not I’m not gonna cry about it. I don’t have real phobia of death, I guess.”
According to his Animal Planet bio, Dr. Jeff has performed over 165,000 “population-controlling” operations with the aim to improve the long-term health of the animal. The procedures are done for free or for a small fee. The secret to keeping costs down is volume. The clinic has roughly 80,000 animal patients and 30 staff members.
“Basically, we work harder. Everyone here knows that what you see here, you won’t see for three, four or five years somewhere else,” Dr. Young said. “We discount a lot of things based on the story and circumstance of their pets.”
Dr. Jeff’s philosophy is to help animals in need and educate pet parents on proper care for their companions. Money has never been the motivating force for him. Many of the clients that come into the clinic are single parents, low-income, or working-class people who have a hard time paying the high fees charged by other clinics.
After graduating from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989, Dr. Young opened his clinic, Planned Pethood Plus, a year later.
After 25 years in the same small spot, Dr. Jeff decided to move the clinic to a larger space. Measuring 8,000 square feet, the new place is more than twice the size of the current location. The Wheat Ridge, Colorado clinic will have seven exam rooms, a bigger front area, a built-in boutique and 75 parking spaces.
The location includes a large apartment upstairs where Dr. Young and his wife will live. As of yet, the upstairs residence is not finished, so the couple is living in a trailer next to the property.
While the cancer scare has been the toughest battle the vet has ever faced, Dr. Young is confident he will beat it. There is no question the courageous and outspoken vet has the love and support of fans worldwide during this most recent struggle.
In 2014, Double Act picked the vet to star in a reality TV show, which later became a series on Animal Planet. Watch episodes of Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet every Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]