Getting a cancer diagnosis is life changing at any age. But as patients begin their treatments, sometimes a little therapy from the canine variety can help ease the stress.
A little boy from the United Kingdom is getting that therapy right here in Oklahoma. He's found a pet to help him get through the fight of his life. Oscar Hawthorne, 10, isn't shy to tell you what's going on inside him.
“I have Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma,” Oscar said. “It just came up like a marble in the side of my face.”
Doctors first thought it was a blood clot that would simply go away but the bump on the side of his face kept growing.
“We went to Oxford Hospital and got a CT scan and an MRI and they found out it was cancer,” he said.
“The bottom drops out of your world when you get that diagnosis,” said Sarah Hawthorne, Oscar’s mother.
After failed treatments back home in the United Kingdom, his mother brought him here to Oklahoma where he's preparing to undergo 28 treatments of proton beam therapy, something that he says makes him nervous. But now enter Indy into his life, a former stray.
“They just immediately connected," said Sandra Roberts, Indy's handler. "It was like they had known each other and met before."
Indy is a certified pet therapy dog and has logged nearly 200 hours at ProCure Proton Therapy Center alone, visiting patients and families during treatments.
"There's research that is lowers blood pressure and heart rate and it just makes people feel more at ease," said Roberts.
And for Oscar, he's a positive distraction.
"It kind of takes my mind off things," Oscar said. "Indy really helps me get through it."
"He definitely has his moments when he wishes he could turn the clock back but I think on the whole, he's incredibly positive," Sarah Hawthorne said.
Oscar begins his treatments on Monday and hopes to be home by Christmas.