Life, Interrupted: A Cancer Patient’s Best Friend

28 Sep

By SULEIKA JAOUAD
Photo Credit: Ashley Woo

 

When I was growing up, my dream was to one day become a veterinarian. In fourth and fifth grade, I volunteered every day after school at a veterinarian’s clinic. I didn’t view it as an “internship” — in my mind, I was apprenticing for a certain future in the field. When I was 10, I asked for an incubator for Christmas. By spring, I was carting around a dozen baby chicks in my purple doll stroller. In middle school I walked dogs at the local animal shelter. But as I got older, there was college, summer travel, then my first real job, at a law firm in France. I was entering the “real world,” as they say in commencement speeches. And there was no room in my adult life for a dog.

Then, a year and a half ago, came my cancer diagnosis, and with it the return home. I found myself pleading with my parents for a puppy, just as I’d done as a child. But I knew the medical reality: My weakened immune system, the result of chemotherapy, made getting a dog impossible. My doctors didn’t even think twice about rejecting the prospect, though I still made it a point of asking every few months.

In early September, I was shocked when I received a voice mail message from one of the nurses in the bone marrow transplant clinic. Instead of rescheduling an appointment or changing the dosage of one of my medications, she had dog-related news: My doctors had decided to give me the green light on adopting a furry friend. In fact, they encouraged it. My immune system was stronger — not as strong as it could be, but relatively strong for a patient in the first six months after transplant. And caring for a pet, my doctors told me, might even be therapeutic. As a cancer patient, I’m always being prescribed medicine. But I never thought I’d get a prescription for a puppy.

 

Continue reading, here.

Follow @suleikajaouad on Twitter and on her Facebook Page.

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2 Responses to “Life, Interrupted: A Cancer Patient’s Best Friend”

  1. Liza September 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Hello Seuleika,
    What terrific news! I have never written you before but I do follow your blog. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July of 2009. I had just gotten a Corgi puppy and she turned out to be the very best medication. She needed walks, play time and helped me giggle and laugh during some of my loneliest and darkest times. I swear she helped relieve my physical pain and encouraged me to get up and out when I am certain I wouldn’t have had she not been there. She kept me grounded in living not just surviving.

    I am sending hugs to you both!!! Liza

  2. Chuck September 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I think the story is wonderful! Pets bond quite quickly when they receive affection.
    Especially dogs, they quickly become close friends, interacting with each other
    elevates the spirit, promotes positive effects on both brain and body.

    Sukeila I wish you good health and happiness in all of your future endeavors.

    Chuck Sussman
    Boca Raton, Florida

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