Woman says three-legged rescue dog helped her realise she had breast cancer

‘I knew I wanted to save him, and he literally saved my life in return,’ says Karen Ethier

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 24 November 2021 16:05
Comments

A woman who adopted a three-legged rescue dog has credited the animal with saving her life, claiming that he helped alert her to the fact that she had stage three breast cancer.

Karen Ethier, 55, found her 10-year-old mastiff and Staffordshire bull terrier cross on the street.

At the time, she said the dog, who she has named Louie, was “emaciated and covered in bruises” with his leg “hanging off”.

“He went straight to the vet for surgery,” she remembered. “They couldn’t save his leg. The vet said she had never seen so many breaks in one leg.

“It was heartbreaking to see him in that way. He was so sweet, and I fell in love with him the moment I saw him.”

Six years after she brought him home Ethier, who was working as the Animal Welfare Manager at the Bath Cats and Dogs Home at the time, recalled how Louie tried to alert her to the fact that something was wrong.

Sitting in her kitchen with a friend, Ethier explained how Louie kept “headbutting and nuzzling” her chest in the same spot.

Ethier’s friend suggested she get a check-up in case Louie was “sensing” that something was wrong with her.

Ethier needed treatment ‘right away’

When Ethier checked her left breast later that day, she found a lump in the spot where Louie had been nudging her.

She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer shortly after when she visited her doctor.

“It was really aggressive, and I needed treatment right away,” Ethier said.

“They said the lump was too big for surgery, so I needed chemo first to reduce it.”

Ethier was treated with six months of chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the lump in addition to lymph nodes in her left arm, as the cancer had spread there.

She was then given three weeks of radiotherapy.

Ethier is now in remission.

“It was really scary, but I was lucky to have some great support around me,” she said, explaining how Louie was with her throughout her treatment.

“Louie is incredibly loyal, and he knew when I was feeling down or sick from treatment,” she added. “He was by my side the entire time.”

Ethier is now in remission, having finished her treatment in June.

“I had a great response to treatment,” she said. “I think it helps that I was caught in time and that’s all thanks to Louie.

“I am so thankful to have him in my life – he’s the best dog.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in