Eileen Z. Fuentes | Happy Birthday Izzy!
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09 Apr Happy Birthday Izzy!

Havanese puppy Izzy www.thespeach.com

On April 9, 2009 my dog Izzy (short for the name Isiah) was born. It was a time of confusion and we needed to ease our fears and redirect our attention to something else. I had just finished my rigorous cancer treatment, which included, multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and injections to my stomach twice daily to treat a blood clot that had formed as a result of a port and clinical trial drug that I was on. As a family, we were completely worn out. I was hardly recognizable after losing all my hair and 40 lbs. It was during that time that I wanted to shift the attention off me and give my kids who at the time were 9, 4 and 2, something else to think about. Life was really heavy for all of us.

Smokey pet therapy www.thespeach.com

Less than a year prior, we had lost our first pet, a pit bull, after his own battle with cancer. While we loved this dog that defied every negative stereotype about his kind, he was too large to keep in our home. We knew we wanted something small, fluffy and resilient since he’d be spending a lot of time with our kids. I started to do the research and decided on a Havanese, who like us originated in the Caribbean. Then I came across a breeder who was very dedicated and selective about those who wanted to purchase a dog from him. It was for this reason that I was afraid that he would be able to see the physical signs of cancer whenever we went to visit. It’s also one of the rare times I wore a wig.

Jeff's Havanese Izzy www.thespeach.com

We were all immediately drawn to this particular puppy. His spots were perfectly placed, he was super-affectionate and he had so much energy. On the weekends we were unable to visit, the breeder would send us pictures, which only made us more desperate to get him home. When it was finally time for him to arrive, we were ecstatic. He immediately got into all the stuff he wasn’t supposed to. His favorite items to this day are socks and underwear. He has a love for snow and running in the park. When any one of us are leaving he barks uncontrollably because he doesn’t want us to go. When my daughters arrive from school he immediately chases them until he successfully removes the rubber band that holds their braid in place. Life with Izzy is definitely a comedy show but it is also a way for us to collectively heal.

Happy Birthday Izzy!

Izzy snow www.thespeach.com

To learn more about the benefits of pet-therapy for cancer patients, click here.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” ~ Billings

Eileen Z. Fuentes

After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, Eileen became her own Self-Healthcare Activist. She is an Integrative Cancer Coach and works full-time helping patients do more than just survive at Columbia University’s Cancer Center in New York City.

  • Cara M. Ryan
    Posted at 14:26h, 09 April Reply

    Pets are beyond the best healers. Happy birthday Izzy!

  • Alicia
    Posted at 09:28h, 09 April Reply

    Happy Bday Izzy!

  • rosa madera-reese
    Posted at 09:33h, 09 April Reply

    Happy Birthday Izzy,pets are amazing friends and companions- they were put on this planet for a reason…

    • Eileen
      Posted at 11:55h, 09 April Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Pets = Therapy!

  • Sky
    Posted at 09:07h, 09 April Reply

    Happy birthday, Izzy! Pets help healing both physically and psychologically, getting us outside to walk, and outside of our own heads and worries of illness and recurrence and all that goes will those things. My furry, waggy sidekick, now one year old, moved in at age ten weeks and she’s been all about fun and games, laughs and love (and licks). When I was recovering from major surgery at MSKCC, I signed up for a visit from one of their pet therapists. An official “Caring Canine” named Klecko, a golden retriever/lab mix hopped gently up on my bed, allowing me to experience a few crucial moments of well-being and joy. Pets are a fantastic part of any healing regimen, and any happy family too.

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