Therapy dogs help cancer patients heal

LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – Going through cancer treatment is tough, but a Midstate facility is using pet therapy to make the process a little easier.

Every day at the Sechler Family Cancer Center in Lebanon, dozens of cancer patients receive chemotherapy.

Sandra Roeting is being treated for lung cancer.

“I just get down and out because I don’t feel good some days,” she said.

Each chemo treatment can last for hours.

“Sometimes I bring a book or a magazine along to read,” Roeting said. “I have good days and bad days.”

But this day was a good day, thanks to a special visitor.

Therapy_dogs_help_cancer_patients_heal_2“He’s nice, soft, fluffy,” Roeting said.

She’s talking about Gizmo, the therapy dog.

“We go around to each one of the stations and we ask people permission. Not everyone wants to have a dog. We talk, we let the patients pet Gizmo,” said Elizabeth Hagg, a pet therapy volunteer. “He likes to do tricks.”

Which, in turn, tricks patients into feeling better, if only for a few minutes.

Therapy_dogs_help_cancer_patients_heal_3“It adds a distraction, kind of gets their mind off the side effects, some of the pain, symptoms that they can experience, not only from their cancer diagnosis, but also the chemotherapy treatments they’re receiving,” nurse manager Lindsay Ebling said.

Gizmo not only helps heal physically but also emotionally.

“It’s exciting to see the patients’ faces when the pets enter the department,” Ebling said. “It’s a sense of calm and you can tell they do enjoy that extra company.”

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