When Jeneanne Lock was undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and stage 1 thyroid cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to help herself — and her family — deal with the disease. She regularly saw therapy dogs come through the center during her treatment and their owners often told her of the advantages of four-legged therapy.
"They spoke of all the benefits of having a pet through and after treatment, how it was helpful to the patient, as well as the caregivers and other family members," Lock says. "That's why I was considering adopting an animal."
Plus, it helped that her two kids were begging to get a dog. So they took a trip to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City "just to look," Lock says. "Of course we saw Stella and fell in love with her."
The year-old black-and-white boxer mix was soon jumping in the car and heading home with them.
"She's been a wonderful addition to our family," Lock says. "For me, just the emotional and mental aspect of being a cancer patient, it was almost more challenging emotional and mentally then physically. But my oncologist said most if not all cancer patients experience anxiety or depression or both. I was aware of my own mental health through my cancer battle and wanted to do things that would promote maintaining mental health, so things like going for a walk with Stella really helped improve my mood."
The sweet, caring pup seems to know how to act with each member of the family, Lock says. Stella is calm and comforting around Lock, yet playful with 9-year-old Ruby and 6-year-old Andres.
When they first brought Stella home, Lock was getting daily radiation after eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and still had several more surgeries to look forward to.
"The toll of all that, the cumulative effects, were I had a lot of fatigue and a lot of soreness in different parts of my body," she says. "What I was doing medically to recover were things like going to physical therapy but being at home and having Stella to take walks with improved my mood and it also helped me build up energy and strength."
But she wasn't the only one that benefited.
"My children had some pretty traumatic experiences watching me," Lock says. "I know Stella's helped me, but I also know she's helped my children."
Lock is now cancer free, with both of her cancers in remission. She credits her rescue pet with helping her get through the experience.
"Our dog is so full of love and energy, she's just been a great companion," she says. "We love having Stella and we look forward to spending more years with her as part of our family."
Watch their story here: