Your Tail

Michelle with Bisou

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease in October of 2002. Originally I was misdiagnosed; they thought my swollen glands were due to a bad cold. I had a needle biopsy and surgical biopsy to confirm that I did have Hodgkin’s Disease. I have never been in remission the entire time but finally the clinical trial I am going through currently is working and I am very close to NED (no evidence of disease). I just learned that term.

Michelle With Bisou

I adopted Bisou, my Bison Frise, as a puppy. He was very ill due to the Parvo virus. As soon as I saw him, I knew we were going to be good for each other. He made it through the horrible virus and I was working on my way to remission. There is something about him, probably all animals, that know when you are ill and not feeling well. He will sense when I need his company and he is very loyal and loveable. I picked Bisou as his name because it means kiss in French. He loves to give kisses and he is great around kids.

I have to go to New York for treatment and I miss him a lot while I am gone. Luckily, I have his picture on my phone. He has beautiful brown eyes that melt my heart. He is such a character. He will run around in circles, which makes my parents and I laugh. He likes to find things that he shouldn’t have such as shoes or a sock and likes us to chase him until we can retrieve the item. He does keep my parents and I busy. Honestly, I am not sure what I would do without him. He loves to cuddle and sleep with me.

My parents are great, they watch him when the chemotherapy makes me ill and when I am away in New York. I just want to get strong enough so I can take him on longer walks and play with him longer. He is my best friend. I am very lucky and cherished to have Bisou in my life as well as my family and close friends. I cherish them all.

Diane with Rae

Prior to my diagnosis, I experienced symptoms for eight years. As my symptoms became more severe, I experienced an acute attack in 2004. A major seizure resulted in severe tremors, short-term memory loss, fatigue, poor balance and lack of concentration while performing everyday tasks.

Diane And Rae

During this major seizure, I was at home alone. I didn’t show up for work and my husband found me 8 hours later still seizing and unconscious. Recovery progressed over eight months.

Since Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy patients can experience relapses, I was accepted as a candidate for a service dog. I’ll never forget when a stranger said, “Keep your heart open and the right dog will find you!” A few months later, along came Rae, my black labradoodle. She is so sweet, that’s why her full name is Sweet Baby Rae.

With the help of professional dog trainers, Rae passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. She is a Service Dog In-Training and currently alerts for medication alarms twice a day. In case I should fall or have a seizure, she is learning to press a GPS Emergency Button. Rae provides comfort when I am home alone and independence I when travel alone.

Never underestimate the benefits of pets or service animals. In addition to the obvious love and comfort they give, they are masters in the art of body language and are very perceptive. While Rae and I were visiting a cancer center, a laryngectomy patient approached us and struggled to speak through a stoma. As he gave Rae a pat on the head, he smiled and whispered, "such comfort". That day, two small words and a smile expressed the power of the human and animal connection.

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