Mercy Health is excited to introduce Lu, a two-year-old labradoodle and new cancer center therapy dog.
Lu spends her time visiting patients who are receiving cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Since last fall, her visits have brought smiles to many faces. She loves popping up on a couch, looking out a window and having her head scratched.
Elizabeth Links, a patient at Mercy Health – St. Anne Cancer Center in Toledo, says, “[Seeing Lu] was a fun surprise. I’ve been coming here for a while and I hadn’t encountered a therapy animal before.”
According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, therapy dogs can relieve stress and improve mood by helping patients forget about their pain or frustrations. Lu’s presence brings a unique kind of comfort to patients. Even just five minutes with Lu can give patients a boost in their day.
“Anything that’s distracting you from all the things you’re going through, especially when you’re sitting here and getting pumped full of this ‘helpful poison,’ it’s nice to have a distraction,” Elizabeth says.
Lu’s handler, Nikki Brown, fell into her role after Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center adopted Lu. Nikki, who is employed at Mercy Health – Perrysburg Cancer Center, was initially asked to dog-sit Lu for a month until her handler was ready. Unfortunately, that plan fell through, but Nikki was asked to take the position and help Lu provide her services as a therapy dog.
Nikki tries to take Lu to the Mercy Health cancer centers once or twice a week. She likes to make sure Lu is seeing as many patients as possible and not seeing the same ones each visit.
“Lu provides therapy to our patients and helps them heal both emotionally and mentally,” says Nikki.
“The smile that appears on a patient’s face, and their family’s faces, speaks volumes.”
Cancer can be a very isolating and lonely experience. Mercy Health works to provide beneficial experiences for our patients to help improve their quality of life as much as possible. Therapy dogs are just one element of Mercy Health’s comprehensive care approach to cancer treatment.
Becoming a therapy dog is no easy feat. Dogs must be at least a one-year-old, and they must pass a training course before getting certified. Dogs must be calm and good-natured, as well as friendly.
Mercy Health is blessed to have Lu on our team and is excited for her to continue providing her services to cancer patients in the Toledo area.
Visit Mercy.com to learn about the Cancer Care and Oncology services we offer.