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Animals Help Cancer Patients, My Horses Did

Many people out there wonder if animals truly help those with cancer. Research has proven animals can indeed aid those with cancer.1 Many people feel that their pets are a part of their family. It is believed that one’s pets can offer many benefits to a person following a cancer diagnosis.

Getting past depression and anxiety

Cancer can cause a sense of isolation and even deep depression. A study discovered that those diagnosed with cancer who spent some time with animals touted improved emotional well-being.1

My family recently adopted two horses from a local rescue, and the benefits of this adoption were immediately evident. As soon as the adoptions were approved and my brother, James, and I transported the horses to our family farm in West Virginia, our family began to feel we were involved in something blessed and larger than ourselves.

Warming my heart and soul

We adopted two 18 year-old mares that needed saving and a forever home to enjoy their retirements. The first mare we transported was Keepsake from right here in West Virginia. Keepsake was located about 100 or so miles north of our family farm.

Just the simple act of traveling with my brother to pick up the mare provided a warm, healing feeling in my heart and my soul. The loving banter between James and myself on the trip surely added to the healing benefit.

The second mare we made a rather lengthy road trip to retrieve. Legacy, or “Lacey” as some called her, was located in the state of Virginia. The trip to pick up Legacy was nearly a four-hour jaunt filled with laughter and stories of the good ‘ol days. Of course we got lost once or twice, making the trip a true journey.

A sense of revival

When we arrived to the farm we were met by a true cowgirl who was well taught in the ways of the equine. She offered me a few short lessons with Legacy in their family’s carrol. Just being around this majestic horse and handling her gave me such a grand feeling.

Arriving home to “Green Acres - The Estep Farm” with Legacy embodied a sense of revival for both my brother and I. Our father, Elvis, who passed away in January 2018, purchased our family farm in 1973, and he along with my grandfather built our huge log barn by hand. All the logs utilized in the building were brought from the top of a mountain on our farm by horse, of course.

A calming effect for those with cancer

Shortly after we brought Keepsake and Legacy to their forever home, my wife and I discovered just how beneficial the mares might be to my cancer treatment. One morning when my blood pressure was running extremely high, I went out to feed and comb the horses. Upon returning from brushing and feeding the horses, we checked my blood pressure once more, it was nearly perfect.

I knew I had felt a calm come over my body as I gently brushed and talked to the horses. Knowing this effect without the aid of tons of medication was indeed exciting to both myself and my wife.

Helping with emotional health

It is a proven fact that meaningful interaction with animals can improve one’s mood. The previous mentioned study also showed a marked improvement in one’s emotional health even while undergoing very difficult and life-threatening chemotherapy.1

It is my opinion that cancer patients should made a concerted effort to interact with animals. I know all can’t handle horses or the like, however the same benefits have emerged from interaction with smaller animals such as dogs, too.2 It is my feeling that even keeping and caring for fish could offer some benefits to my fellow cancer warriors.

In closing, I hope those who read this article will attempt to discover the crucial benefits of interacting with animals.

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