My Pets - Comfort, Distraction or A Little Bit of Both?
Last updated: January 2023
Pets can provide company, comfort, and support. They may help in coping with the emotions that come up with having lung cancer. Animals can fill different roles. Each one has its benefits and challenges, so before you go and get a pet, make sure to talk to your cancer care team. They can help you determine if your pet might pose concerns during your treatment.
My pet Buddy, before the lung cancer diagnosis
Before my diagnosis, I had a dog, Buddy. I kept feeling so sick, thinking it was bad allergies from Buddy. We decided to give him to a loving family. He was such a great dog, and I was so sad when we gave him away.
Then, when we found out the sickness I had was lung cancer. I was so upset. I didn’t want to ask for the dog back, and I felt terrible. But Buddy had a great family that loved him so much, which made me happy.
The feline blessing
Shortly after giving Buddy away, a beautiful white cat showed up at my house! My husband and I were leaving to go to his work Christmas, and he wanted to take me with him to cheer me up.
As I got in the car, the beautiful cat came to me. I looked up, and my husband's first words were, “no.” But - he told me if the cat was still there when I returned, it could be mine.
It was meant to be
Later that evening, my daughter texted me and told me a beautiful white cat was outside! I told her to feed it but to make sure not to say anything to her dad.
When we came home, I didn’t see the cat. As soon as we opened the door - out of nowhere - the cat ran into the house. My husband kept saying he didn’t want any cats, but my other daughter told him that she looked it up, and it meant the cat was an angelic sign. She said that this cat came for Mom, and it had to stay.
A new member of the family
We fed the cat and found out that she was female. She went straight under the Christmas tree and fell asleep. And she never left. I’m happy to say she’s now a fat cat, and my mom named her Kitty. But the best part? My husband loves Kitty, and Kitty actually prefers him over me.
The puppy surprise!
The following year, my husband surprised me and got me a puppy. He was the cutest puppy ever! Before Buddy, we had a Jack Russell Terrier, and oh, how much I loved her, and I still miss her so much. So he got me another Jack Russell - or so he thought. The puppy ended up being a Rat Terrier - and oh my goodness, does he drive me nuts. I named him Kemo, and he loves us all equally, but he definitely prefers my granddaughter!
Ups and downs of being a pet mom
Having pets has been challenging. They have also brought me lots of comforts and helped me through my treatment, especially in the beginning. My pets continue to bring me joy and some frustration - especially Kemo since he’s so hyper and territorial.
It is work, but can be rewarding
So, if you are thinking of getting a dog, remember that certain dogs can make a better match with specific people. I've heard that golden retrievers, poodles, dachshunds, pugs, or German shepherds make excellent dogs! But one thing I’m sure of? They definitely help; I know my Kitty and Kemo have helped me tremendously.
Beside manner matters! What has your experience been?