The journey of the past year of my life is nothing short of miraculous and one of the greatest supporters on my path towards healing was and is Daisy.
Daisy has been with me for almost 4 years and it was love at first sight! Through thick and thin, happiness and heartbreak she has been by my side! But little did I know that at age 23, having been perfectly healthy and active my entire life, I was about the face the biggest battle I have ever fought.
After experiencing trouble with my right ear, I was misdiagnosed for two months. I was told I had an ear infection numerous times as I continued to get sicker. As the weeks passed and I knew things were not “normal” it was also evident to me how close Daisy was clinging to me, especially around my neck and ear.
Finally I decided to see a specialist E.N.T. doctor and he did a CAT scan. That scan revealed a brain tumor and I was immediately set up for appointments at Duke. I cannot explain the level of my disbelief and the fear and anxiety I felt…. but Daisy knew and she never left my side.
There are numerous ways dogs contribute to our health. They are remarkable in helping to relieve anxiety and stress because when a dog is in your life there is always a reason to smile. The days and weeks leading up to the major surgery encompassed many visits to Duke as well as more scans that revealed I also had a neck (carotid artery) tumor. This news on top of the original news hit me like a ton of bricks. I had tried to be so stoic but this is when I finally broke down and cried. My fur baby Daisy brought me through this downward spiral. She stayed close snuggling me and looking at me with those big sweet eyes that said “I love you and will be by your side”.
“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.” Doris Dey
The days that ensued involved many procedures leading up to the the major surgery that took almost 8 hours and left me with a 9 inch scar and deaf in my right ear. I looked like Frankenstein! Through many prayers and the grace of God, the neck tumor was fully removed and the brain tumor was almost completely removed. There was part of the highly vascular and tenacious tumor that was wrapped too close to nerves and arteries and I had agreed with the doctors ahead of time that in order to prevent a stroke or other devastating nerve damage they could leave any bit that posed danger if they tried to remove. I was hospitalized for 7 days and had some bumps on the way to recovery but finally was able to come home.
I know everyone thinks their dog is the best (and they are all right) but Daisy really is my lifesaver! Coming home to that wagging nub of a tail (she is a Frenchton) and that smile (honestly she smiles!) was the best medicine! Kisses were abundant! Never underestimate the power of a sloppy kiss and a wet nose.
There were weeks ahead of me for healing, learning to walk again and even hold my head up. Cuddling with Daisy lifted depression and relieved anxiety as well as helped to strengthen my immune system in reaching recovery. Some angels choose fur over wings and Daisy was and is my angel.
The healing power of a pup is real! I underwent 28 rounds of radiation this past summer and 4 days after my last dose I started law school at Charleston School of Law.
Daisy and I have started our own little fashion blog and don’t be surprised if you see us around Charleston modeling together, at the dog park or on the beach! We are inseparable! Love is a four legged word and you too can find this love. We want to stress the importance of adoption; unconditional love is as close as your nearest shelter!
May 18th will be the one year since my surgery and everyday begins with gratitude and a hug and kiss from Daisy!
Photos by J Michael Walker