I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32. I didn’t have a pet, but decided that some companionship through the sick days would be a great idea. I wanted to adopt a dog that I really connected with and started looking at local shelters, that’s when I found Edi.
Her Story: Edi was found at the tourism center in my hometown. She had fleas and ear mites so severe that her hair was starting to fall out. She was terrified of thunder. The first time I saw her she had just had a bath and looked pretty miserable. I was going through chemo and probably looked pretty miserable myself. Even though she was afraid, alone, and didn’t have a family, she did a “doggie grin” and came forward. We clicked. I spent a few hours playing with her on separate occasions and we became fast friends. After paperwork, vet visits, and a small fee; she was coming home with me. I honestly can’t fathom why someone gave her up. I like to think she accidentally got lost, instead of someone abandoning her.
The Humane Society had named her Eddie until they found out that she was a girl and it was changed to Edi; the name stuck and she’s still got it. She’s a miniature Schnauzer but didn’t look it when I adopted her. She’s absolutely terrified of clippers so instead of terrifying her, I just brush her everyday and trim her bangs. She’s really furry, but it looks adorable and there’s nothing wrong with looking like yourself. More power to her!
How She Helped Me Get Better: She’s a rough and tumble sort of girl, but she’s so gentle with me. It’s like she knows I have places on my body that hurt. She truly helped me through my cancer in so many ways. Even when I felt horrible, I still had to take her out for bathroom breaks, which would get me moving and in the sunshine. When I would cry from pain, fear, or frustration…I could tell her things I didn’t want to say to my family and she would gently lick my hand and stare into my eyes. It was like she understood because she had been alone and afraid too. When I was really ill and not expected to make it, she would constantly nudge me and try to make me get up. I think she knew how sick I was. My favorite thing about her, is that she looks like she’s smiling all of the time. She’ll just poke her tongue out of her mouth and look so goofy, you have to laugh. That can seriously be the best pain medicine, because it makes you forget for a minute that you’re hurting or scared. She really is my best friend and I love her like a family member.
Things to Consider: I want to tell every cancer patient to adopt a pet. Just stroking their fur is relaxing, knowing they need you to get up makes you want to, and enjoying their silly antics is rejuvenating, but there are some things to consider before you adopt to be fair to yourself and your pet.
- If you get really ill and have to be hospitalized, is there someone to take your pet and care for them while you are away?
- Can you handle your pet in your physical condition? If not, do you have adequate reliable help? For instance, I could not have physical handled a big dog when I was extremely weak. Your pet will want to play and go on walks even when you don’t feel good.
- Is this the right pet for you? You need a good natured, loving pet.
- Will this be the right pet for you after you recover? It isn’t fair to make them love you if you aren’t committed to them for the rest of their life, just as they are committed to you.
- Has your pet been checked out by a vet? You probably can’t afford big vet bills right now, or puppies. Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered and in a state of health that you can handle.
- Will your pet be safe in your home and yard? There are stories of dogs getting into take home chemo medicine and dying. Make sure you can keep your pet away from your medications etc..
Adopting a pet really is rewarding and can make a cancer patient feel so much better. Edi and I share a bond that’s really special. We both found each other when we were sick, afraid, and needed someone who understood. If you can care for a pet or have someone to help you, I really recommend finding that special pet to help you, just as you will help them, through this tough time. Laughter and love really are the best medicine. Best of luck to you in your fight.
For More Cancer or Health Related Articles, Visit Carrie Williams Homepage. Her articles are written from the heart, with the purpose of helping others