Linda has been “hanging out” with Finn for the past four weeks. “I look forward to Thursdays when he is here. He takes my mind off why I’m here.” She and her husband have made it a habit to bring Finn special treats every week. They love to share affection and compassion with their furry friend.
Linda feels her anxiety is much decreased when she gets to spend quality time with Finn before her treatments. She loves dogs, but due to her husband’s allergies they don’t have a dog (but they do have grand-dogs, her daughter has even bred a litter of labs).
Linda is a believer in integrative therapies. Besides interacting weekly with Finn, Linda has been receiving oncology massage on a regular basis. She feels these methods have helped her care for her body, mind and soul while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Linda’s husband has noticed how helpful these integrative therapies have been for Linda. “I noticed how much more relaxed and at ease she was.”
Going through treatment during the holidays hasn’t been a huge struggle for Linda. As a family, they decided “not to worry” about the holidays. Their focus is on supporting Linda through these initial therapies and getting her ready for surgery after the New Year. Linda is at ease with letting the holidays go this year. She seems relieved at not having the stress of gatherings, shopping, and decorating on top of her cancer treatments.
While we were chatting and Linda was loving Finn, her treatment was delayed. We continued our pet therapy visit for over 30 minutes, and then they called her back. She commented, “I can’t believe 30 minutes just went by…it flew.” She gives Finn some extra ear rubs in gratitude. “See you next week buddy.”
For more information or questions about animal assisted therapy and cancer patients, contact Christina Bach, [email protected]
Healing Paws is a joint project between OncoLink and the Department of Radiation Oncology, Penn Medicine. Finn, the therapy dog, is a registered therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International (TDI®).
Photos by William Levin, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, Penn Medicine and Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Consents for disclosure of personal information/photography on file.