"Cancer Support: The Furry Kind"

"Cancer Support: The Furry Kind"

Came across this and smiled :) Do you all have any pets, and do you find they bring you any comfort during this craziness that is cancer? My mother was diagnosed with Stage III renal carcinoma a few years ago while I was living & working in another state, and it was very difficult being so far away from her. She felt very isolated, too, as kidney cancer is a rare disease, and she was on a clinical trial, and she didn't know anyone who had ever experienced either. She turned to online groups to find support, but she also found enormous comfort in our dog, Peanut, who sat by her side every day and protected her from the mailman, ha. She calls him her therapy dog. The pic is of him looking guilty because he pulled out all the neatly folded blankets from this basket so he could sit in it :)


"I am not an animal expert by any means. However, I have learned from experience that they can bring immense joy and comfort to those struggling with person issues, trauma and health concerns. If you are an animal lover and/or owner, you know this well. Those furry four-legged friends are always around to support us in our daily lives. They tend not to judge us when we don’t look our best or don’t say the right thing. In their eyes, we are always perfect and can do no wrong. They follow us everywhere and love us unconditionally. That can be a game-changer when you face a cancer diagnosis. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I followed the typical path of crying, hysterics, angry rants followed by an odd sense of calm. I got tired of hearing from everyone how strong I was, how they knew I could handle anything, I’d totally be fine, I’d make it through, etc. I know I sound ungrateful and I don’t intend this to be as such. I loved the support from family and friends. I NEEDED that support to lean on every day. However, sometimes I wanted no part of hearing how strong I was because when I looked in the mirror and saw a bald head and a pale face, I didn’t feel strong at all. I felt weak, scared and sick. These were the moments where I turned to the furry friends. I needed the four little legs of my cat to lean on and vent to while she just stayed quiet and listen. During my treatment, my cat Sammy would always lay next to me, almost like she was guarding me. She watched as others came and went and let them take care of me, but she made sure to stand guard. She sat there and watched me cry, she watched me laugh and she watched as I shifted uncomfortably when the pain got to be too much. I could tell her I was scared and so mad that cancer happened to me. She never told me that I looked to be recovering so well and the prognosis was so good so why was I so worried? She never told me I would be fine and everything would be OK. She just listened every time I needed to vent. I know there are people who don’t want to have pets or can’t and that’s totally fine. My cat was what helped me, but there are plenty of other options to get close to animals or nature. Personally, I strongly suggest giving it a try, especially if you are struggling with the mental anguish caused by cancer. It might seem a little silly or you might feel weird about it, but you may just be surprised as to how it can help. If you have a four-legged friend, take a chance and have a little one-sided chat with them about how you are feeling. It might feel good to get those emotions out without hearing any sort of criticism or judgment. I can also promise you they won’t laugh at what you have to say. For those that don’t want a pet around the house or can’t have them, I have a few suggestions: 1. Take a walk outside and listen for the sounds of the birds. It’s very soothing just to hear them in their moment. 2. Go to a zoo and take a stroll. Seeing the animals can bring on a sense of calm and comfort. 3. Volunteer at a local humane society or animal rescue. Spend some time with the animals and see how that makes you feel. 4. Visit a friend or family member that has a furry friend. Take a chance on spending some time with some furry friends and see what happens. They might just be the exact support you have been waiting for as you navigate your cancer journey."

7 Replies

  • Love this post, Missa. Yes, pets can bring us comfort. Always there. Never judgemental. We've had our share of mostly cats over the years. One lived to be almost 20. When is a dog not happy to see you? It doesn't matter whether you leave the house for 10 minutes or 10 hours.

  • My crazy pup has been a great comfort. When I was really sick during chemo he didn't leave my side. He always seems to know when I don't feel well. He's half yellow lab and half golden retriever.

  • What a great combination of lab and golden retriever!

  • I've been dealing with mbc for over 13 years and have had dogs and cats the whole time--my husband and I are definitely pet people! One of the great things about dogs and cats is that they live in the moment and that helps me do the same, at least more than i could without them. I can still walk our little dachshund and his mutt brother, and that is often so full of surprises. And I rarely sit in my recliner without at least one and often two pets on my lap. Nothing soothes like the sound of a cat's purr! We also feed a couple of feral cats...... plus several varieties of birds, including hummingbirds that never fail to delight us.

  • Fur babies are amazing gifts always, but especially when we are sick. I currently have two dogs, a chocolate lab and a Pomeranian. The lab is especially sensitive. But by far the most comforting pet I've ever had was my Rex Rabbit named Thumper. Because Rex fur gross straight out from their bodies, it's like cuddling up with warm, living, breathing velvet. Thumper knew every time I was sick before I did. She could sometimes be a bit aloof, but when I was sick all she seemed to want out of life was to snuggle. And, she "wore a sign" around her neck. Rexes have an extra goal of skin on their necks called a dew flap. Thumper's dew flap was mostly white and had four brown spots on it in the shape of a cross. 🐇🐰🐇

  • My mini Aussiedoodle is full of energy and a great comfort. She inspires me to walk everyday and Keep moving.

  • My Maltese sat in my lap for weeks, while I was wrapped up in a blanket on the couch (in the summer) shaking with fear after being newly diagnosed. The poor dog, he is such an outgoing confident little guy, he started hiding in the closet when I'd leave the house. I don't know what I would have done without him. I've shed the blanket and the shaking, and he is back to his old self running around, being full of life and joy. This year I adopted an older female Tonkinese cat. They are supposed to be very social, calm and playful. She is a real lap cat who love to sit on me, purring very loudly. These animals bring peace and calm into my life. I wish I could fill my house with them!

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