Recently I saw a TV ad showing a child in a hospital bed where someone comes into the room to give a treatment and we see the sadness on the child’s face followed by being told that something different is being tried today. Then in walks a therapy dog and the child’s demeanor immediately changes. If you have seen this ad, it may have been something that you might never have thought about as being part of a patient’s treatment but for me, it reminded me of my own thyroid/parathyroid surgery day that I had many years ago and how everyone in that room reacted. Is there a possibility of adding this type of treatment to a cancer patient’s treatment regime?
“The impact of the change in energy when such a presence like that of the therapy dog enters into the room and approaches the patients that would like to have them come closer is almost indescribable.“Barbara Jacoby
I had been prepared for surgery completely and just before I was rolled down the hall to begin, someone entered the room with a therapy dog. The energy changed completely, not only for me but for all of those attending to me and even my husband before he was sent to the waiting room. Unlike the apprehensions that I had had running through my mind prior to any of the previous cancer surgeries that I had had, the presence of that dog shifted my focus to its presence and put a huge smile on my face and thought of that animal and the mental changes that occurred for me remained in my mind right up to the time that the anesthesia took over. And it was one of the first things that came to my mind again after the surgery as I came out of the anesthesia.
I had long ago forgotten about that experience until I saw the ad but it did trigger in my mind the euphoria that I felt and began to wonder how such a program might be added into cancer treatment. Not only could this be allowed for patients who were about to go into surgery but exposure for the staff and medical team for those who were part of the surgical that was about to happen. The therapy dog could also make a visit to the waiting room before departing the hospital to help reduce the anxiety of those waiting there for reports on the outcomes of the loved ones that are currently having surgeries of any type.
Perhaps therapy dogs could make visits to the rooms where patients are receiving chemo treatments in order to provide an opportunity for those there to have a respite from a focus on the treatment, especially if they do not have a book or music or something else to do during that time. But, even then, the impact of the change in energy when such a presence like that of the therapy dog enters into the room and approaches the patients that would like to have them come closer is almost indescribable. Or what if you were in your hospital room and didn’t have anyone who would be in a position to visit you while you are there except for those who come in and out to check on you and to bring you food and medications as scheduled and such a “visitor” was brought to you?
It seems that so many people would benefit greatly from such a program. There are also a lot of people who I believe would love to have the opportunity to help others in this way and would jump at the opportunity to receive the training necessary for themselves and for their beloved animals to give this type of help and support to others. And as I recently learned that I know someone personally who is doing this type of work, I plan to contact her to learn more about it. And if you think that this is something in which you might be interested, you might want to have conversations and/or take action in a similar way in order to find out whether this is something that you, too, might want to research for incorporation into your own cancer community.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.