A very special corgi


Gail with corgis

Wow. We were in corgi heaven.When we arrived, there were puppies in the front yard to greet us, and basically just corgis everywhere. The owners brought Cane in the house to meet us and we fell in love instantly. He was 3 years old, beautiful, playful, funny and obsessed with his toy. We passed inspection, and it was agreed that we would be Cane's new forever family. We were so happy. As we started on the long five-hour drive home with Cane in the back of the car all the "what if" thoughts kept creeping into my head and I began questioning our decision. My husband Steve kept telling me everything would be fine.You see, I was having an imaging scan the next day to see if my breast cancer had returned. I was initially diagnosed in January 2006 and had gone through the standard treatment: bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation and tamoxifen. It was discovered in one of my follow-up scans that I had kidney stones, which were thought to be the result of my chemotherapy treatments. They were not causing any problems, and due to their size we decided to just do the watch and wait approach. That meant a kidney CT scan every year, no big deal right? Well, my urologist informed me after my scan in April 2009 that something was showing up on my liver - definitely not what I was expecting to hear.A few days later we learned everything was not fine and that my breast cancer had metastasized to my liver and numerous lymph nodes. We were shocked, scared, angry and just plain terrified. The first time I had a fear of the treatment more than dying; now I was stage 4 and I most likely will die from breast cancer. Then I started thinking about Cane and wondering if we did the right thing. Were we crazy bringing home a new dog into our home when I was going back into treatment? How would I have time for him? Would it be fair to him? Well little did we know, but he would end up being the best thing we could have done. Right from the start he was such a comfort to both Steve and me. He was by my side every day and never expected anything from me other than love. He put a smile on my face even when I didn't feel like smiling. He got me up and moving for short walks or just outside to throw the ball for him. He seemed to know when I wasn't feeling well and that sometimes I just needed the comfort of his head resting on my lap.After six months and a good response from my treatments, I was able to switch to a more tolerable treatment and I began feeling better and having more energy. Cane seemed to sense my improvement and with that we also saw a change in him. He was still his lovable, attentive self, but now he seemed to have a whole new attitude and was always raring to go at the drop of a hat. Cane is so amazing and such a joy to have around; he will always have a very special place in my heart.But there is always more love to go around. We got another corgi in August 2010. Her name is Poppet, and she is the same age as Cane and lived with him in their previous home. She is a sweetie and makes our home complete. I believe both Cane and Poppet have enriched our lives and helped us to cope with the reality of my cancer and that treatments will now probably be a forever thing since I have metastatic cancer. They are the best therapy I could ask for and I am happy to say that my last scan in July 2011 showed no evidence of disease. We are enjoying life to the fullest, and our corgis are with us every step of the way.

Gail and her two corgis, Poppet and Cane.Gail Lemberger, 52, from Camarillo, Calif., is a wife and mother with a 27-year-old son. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan. 2006 and then metastatic breast cancer in June 2009. She is a participant and volunteer at The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura.Editor's note: Do you have a story of how a pet helped you heal? Submit a photo and brief description and we'll share your story with CURE readers <Submit your photo here>. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming article on how pets help us during and after a cancer diagnosis.

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