Silverio and Ginetta are from Montreal, Canada. Cancer has been part of their lives for some time. Silverio was first diagnosed over 5 years ago. He was doing well and had returned to his “normal” life when the cancer came back. He needed treatment he could only get in the US (proton therapy), so he and his wife, Ginetta, packed up and became temporary Philadelphia residents.
They didn’t just leave their home, family, friends and job behind in Montreal. They also left their beloved dog, Sushi, a 13 year old Pekingese. They use various forms of technology to stay in touch with their lives in Canada, including “facetiming” with Sushi.
For Silverio, this go around with cancer treatment has been more challenging; “it feels more real.”
One thing he and Ginetta did immediately was start visiting with Finn the therapy dog. For Ginetta, “I’m instantly distracted. My worries and anxiety are removed and I get a break from the reality of what we are going through.” Silverio loves playing with Finn’s ears and giving him kisses. They both relax and for just a moment, their thoughts are not preoccupied by cancer, treatment and being away from home. Neither expected to see a dog as part of their treatment team, but are comforted by his presence. Ginetta seems to adore having dog hair on her clothes again: a nice reminder of the life they left behind and will return to.
They are trying to make the most of their time in Philadelphia as well as this special time they have together. They are visiting museums and working hard to keep their minds active. They are even taking the time to write a children’s book together-something they always wanted to do. In the end, the recurrence of Silverio’s cancer has awarded them with precious time to be present and be together: even if it is far from home.
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 Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
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