It really sucks to be sick.
How much more having an illness like cancer? It does suck more, cancer really sucks.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a favorite pet. That was more than 20 years ago when I was in primary school. My sister and I had a favorite dog where she thinks she is also our sister, not only a friend. Whenever my sister and I were having a childhood fight, our dog, Berga was always there to join us instead of stopping us from fighting.
I grew up living in a house with different kinds of animals from primary school until I finish college. Seriously, different kinds of animals, name it! Not just a dog or dogs. We have mice, rabbit, hamster, birds, chicken (both hen & rooster, giant –jolo & dwarf one – bantam) guinea pig, goldfish, and even snakes! This is all because of my late father who is the number one animal lover I’ve known in my entire life. I actually could not understand why he isn’t tired of keeping and taking care of these animals.
Honestly, throughout my being, before and after cancer, I don’t fully apprehend why my father keeps many animals throughout his life, even before he passed away. Until then, in one right set of circumstances, when my friend’s cat happened to stay with me.
When I had cancer 2 years ago, I had never thought of having a pet. All I thought was, how to survive this disease, will I still be alive after this cancer diagnosis? Can I still do the goals that I must achieve?
Until then, I had come to live with these sleek, tomcat, Sushi and Yuki. Living with four-legged amigos will definitely make you feel better and happy, not only when you’re sick. Because pets teach us that every day is a great day to be happy.
Dogs and cats never hold on to what happened yesterday, last week or last year, unlike us, humans. They are always calm in whatever circumstances happen every second.
Dogs are always glad to see you. With them, you’ll never be alone as they really inclined to bond with a person. Dogs know when you’re sick and will stick with you until you feel better. They are always extra affectionate to make you feel that you will be alright. Maybe more dog cuddle, laying in bed with you, or just simply hang out by your side while you lie on the couch and stares at you with a tongue out. They are always trying to comfort you more and let you know that they are there for you.
More so, let me give you more reasons why pets are much better company when you’re sick or alone:
- They can find fun in messiness.
Life’s messy! Stay happy! Having a pet, you can’t really expect them to care about where the food and water go when they’re already enjoying their meal. They make a mess, a lot of mess and they find fun in messiness. Let’s admit it, no matter how often times we attempt to be a perfect human, there are times that we inevitably make a mess. In fact, we are all, after all, just trying to make it through the day. For cancer patients and survivors who are living in pain and anxiety, little things that they do or happened to them are very important as long as it can make them smile.
Having a cancer is a real big mess.
A messy place or messy tomorrows are unsurprisingly part of the life of a cancer patient or survivor and being happy for most of them seems an impossible task.
Pets have a very important role to keep them happy and can possibly make a progress for the healing journey from cancer. Where pets have the ability to help strengthen the emotion of cancer patients and survivors and develop positive talking to themselves for a hope even for an uncertain future.
When you have cancer, living each day to the fullest means making plans for the future and staying involved in the duties and pleasures of daily life does make sense for everyone, sick or well.
- They are positive beings.
Giving food to your dog or cat is the easiest way to make them happy. You can easily recognize that they are happy by lolling their tongues, wagging tails and showing their cheerful spirits.
- They occupy our free and boring time.
A simple walk in the park with our pet, cleaning their corner, or feeding them can help us be more active. And that means you burn calories, getting your heart rate up and scoring the big mood and energy boosts provided by quick bursts of exercises. Most of the time, when someone is sick because of cancer, they usually have to stay at home the whole day every day while the rest of the family have to go to work or school. Being alone most of the time adds the anxiety and worries of every cancer patient and survivor. Whilst, having a pet that can follow you around during the treatment and even after you are well, boost the bliss in a cancer patient or survivor’s lives.
- They help us develop empathy.
Having a pet at home become more caring and compassionate. Taking care of dogs or cats prompts us all humans and animals have similar needs such as being social, we all need a company to spend time with; a food lover, we all love food, who doesn’t?
Cancer patients and survivors need empathy as much as the rest do.
This is a serious illness that each patient or survivor need to be understood and be able to share feelings with another not just a stroll in a park. Sometimes we end up avoiding the person who needs us the most, but pets, they need not worry what to do or say to someone who is sick. Their presence is more than enough to show empathy that could improve the satisfaction of care of a cancer patient or survivor and even give them a motivation to continue to their treatment plans in their cancer journey.
- They keep us healthy.
This is not just my own stance, according to The American Heart Association, having a pet reduces cardiovascular disease risk factor, such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and a lower likelihood of obesity. That must be one of the reasons why my father never gets tired of taking care of animals especially dogs. What’s more, a caring pet (especially dogs) can help a cancer patient or survivor to cope up with stress, depression, and anxiety. Simply playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. Their friendship can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for cancer patient or survivor that’s anxious about what will be happening to its life.
Dogs (or even cats) live in the moment.
They don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow – they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.
Do you have any thoughts to share about your cancer journey with your pet? Leave a comment below!
Cielo Superticioso, is the author of The Cancer Voice Asia created last August 2017. She starts the advocacy of The Cancer Voice after she successfully beat cancer in Saigon, Vietnam by writing articles. She is committed and determined to continue the campaign in order to strengthen the cancer awareness because no one should fight cancer alone.