Sunday, September 20, 2009

A vow to be there

A Jewel of a girl shares a laugh with Mokie, a gem of a cat.

In sickness and in health.

That’s a promise human beings make to each other. That we will be there no matter what. Through thick and thin. In good times, and in bad.

But it’s a promise that’s broken often.

Except by the animals. They don’t know any other way to be.

This morning, I stopped in to visit my dear friend Julie Davis, whom I affectionately call Jewel. We met eight years ago, connecting instantly because of two twinned traits: an offbeat sense of humor, and our love of animals. We both support our local animal shelter—the Whatcom Humane Society—and sit on the board of the capital campaign committee together.

Julie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on June 30. Just two weeks later, she faced major surgery at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Ninety-eight percent of the cancer was cut out of her. She’s undergoing chemotherapy until the end of the year to eradicate the rest.

Family and friends have rallied around Julie since she was diagnosed. But no one has been there for her as steadfastly and loyally as her two cats.

Eight-year-old Mokie and 12-year-old Ricky don’t leave Julie’s side for long.

Chemotherapy compromises the immune system, so it’s been suggested that Julie should consider placing her cats elsewhere until she’s all better.

But she won’t hear of it. She’s donning gloves and a face mask to clean their litterboxes. She’s always got a bottle of antibacterial gel standing by, just in case the cats squeeze in a comforting lick on her hands or face.

The cats keep Julie’s spirit supported when she’s feeling sad. They make her laugh and provide comfort. And when the magnitude of what she’s facing becomes almost too much to bear, they don’t mind if she cries into their fur.

Mokie and Ricky aren’t the only animals comforting ill people. Across the nation, nursing homes and hospital wards are now welcoming animals into their fold because they buoy patients’ spirits, assisting recovery while improving day-to-day quality of life.

Julie knows the next few months will bring good days, and bad days.

But that’s easier to bear with Ricky and Mokie at her side. Because they’ll be there with her, for better or for worse.

Do you feel inspired to help Julie, or stay updated on her progress? You can follow her journey and offer support on her Caring Bridge website.

Julie and her mom Maxine shared a laugh on the La-Z-Boys she bought recently to aid her convalescence. Maxine cut her hair bristle-brush short to match her daughter's hairdo as a gesture of support. Mom wanted you to know that they were reclining because neither was feeling well. Maxine had a sore leg, while Julie felt sick from chemo. Still, there was great beauty in shared pain. Notice Mokie posing on the window ledge.


Anonymous said...

The spirit behind your glorious smile will bring you through this, Julie. Just keep your face to the sun (figuratively speaking) so you don't see the shadows behind you, and before you know it, life will be good again. You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Jewels, Just keep looking to that Golden Light. See it in darkest times. See it whenever you question. And bathe your doctors and the nurses and technicians, as well, in it. Bathe yourself in it.
That was one of the biggest helps to my survival... But my cat... now there's a friend indeed. I could never have made it through some of the health crises that I have surmounted without her.
Bless your compassionate mother as well! So glad you have such a great team of support. Love is powerful.
Hang in there, girl! You can do it!!! Best, Judith Elliott