A Mother and her Two Daughters

11 October 2010

Celebrating Abbey

This weekend was spent in St. Louis, having a wonderful time with Allyson and Jeff.  The date had been set months ago as on Sunday we also participated in “Celebrate Spot” – a one-mile fun walk or a 5K walk past some of the most beautiful spots in the 1,300-acre urban park known as Forest Park.  The proceeds from Celebrate Spot benefit the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Siteman Cancer Center

The event was magnificent raising $72,000 for this very unique program that caters to women under age 40 diagnosed with breast cancer.  Allyson has been one of the many event volunteers, she and her friend Hannah working diligently on branding and merchandising efforts. 

Each year, Celebrate Spot and Nestl√© Purina Company of St. Louis seek nominations and bestow The PAWtner Award to a canine hero who provided unique care, steadfast support and loving comfort to a breast cancer survivor during treatment and recovery.  Allyson nominated Abbey Rose, and yesterday Abbey became the 2010 PAWtner award winner.  Allyson’s heartfelt nomination tells the story and speaks for itself.

This last year, Abbey Rose was our family Christmas present.  We've always been cat people, but after my sister was diagnosed with cat allergies, my mother felt compelled to bring this adorable Pembroke Welch Corgi into our home.  Six weeks later, Mom was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer – a very rare and invasive form of breast cancer.  Within a few weeks, she began undergoing an aggressive chemotherapy regime that would last for four months.  The side effects – extreme lethargy and bone pain – required her to work from home, but only when she wasn’t sleeping.  Because I was attending the University of Missouri, and my sister was busy with high school senior activities, Mom spent much of her treatment and recovery time at home alone. 

Don't get me wrong.  My Mom collects people and there was a constant stream of friends coming to visit, bring her meals, and provide some of the outside world to her as she was trying to heal at home.  It became very clear as to why Mom wanted Abbey; she had become her best friend and the perfect canine companion.

Mom's oncologist told her that she needed a Chemo Buddy to be present at each treatment, to help take her mind off of the "cocktail" of drugs that were being put inside her system.  While the Chemo Buddy plays a very important role, an overall Cancer Buddy at home is even more important, especially for a single adult.  Every cancer patient can benefit from having someone always there when they feel poorly, when they’re suffering from overwhelming lethargy, or even rejoicing in the nuggets of good news that might come their way.  That “someone”, her “cancer buddy”, has been her Corgi, Abbey Rose.    

Abbey stays close by Mom’s side, and is completely reliable when she needs a hug from a good friend.  Mom often told me that during her three-day sleeps following chemo treatments, she always woke up to find Abbey sleeping close by her side.  She said it felt as if Abbey were sucking out all the bad energies from her body.  And I’ve seen first-hand how she gives constant attention to Mom, caring for her as if she were a small puppy. 

Abbey also has helped keep Mom active with daily walks, entertains with her vivacious and playful personality, and keeps Mom’s spirit high with her constant affection and doggy kisses throughout the long days at home.  When Mom had her double mastectomy it was as if Abbey instantly knew what to do, and what not to do.  She normally settles in Mom's lap on the couch, but somehow Abbey knew to be careful of the lymphatic drains and bags’ so instead, she laid her head on Mom's hands or legs all day, continuing to lift her spirits.

Every time I come home I know exactly where I can find Abbey Rose; right by Mom's side.  Sometimes my sister and I joke that Mom loves Abbey more than she loves us now.  While that isn't true, we do know that Abbey Rose has become a special member of our family, and a loving companion for Mom throughout this very tough journey we call Cancer.  Now that my sister is in college at the University of Arkansas, and I'm working in St. Louis, I'm thankful that Mom has Abbey.  I'm thankful that Abbey will continue to lay her head on my Mom's hand, snuggle her when she's falling asleep, and greet her at the door with a wagging tail.  Abbey Rose exemplifies the perfect canine Cancer Buddy.

Thank you Allyson for understanding how much Abbey Rose has meant to me during my struggle and recovery this year.  She is that indescribable measure of love that I call my dog.  And thank you Abbey Rose for all that your friendship and companionship have meant to me.  

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