Healing Huskies

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:55

ANDOVER — Sharon Ridilla is celebrating the five-year mark of conquering breast cancer, but the steps to her victory were not always easy. After enduring the removal of one breast, and four months of chemotherapy, Sharon was left completely lethargic, lost her hair, and developed nerve damage in her legs. From there, she fell into a deep depression. “I played video games for three weeks straight, slept, and watched TV,” said Ridilla. It was a stage in her journey, when the phone stopped ringing, as friends moved on when Sharon’s chemotherapy was over. “All of the attention stopped, there were no more phone calls,” she said. “After surgery and chemo are over, everyone thinks you're better and can pick up where you left off. The fight you just finished has pretty much sucked the life out of you. You will see side effects for years to come. No one understands this unless they've been there.” Soon however, the phone began to ring again as friends started to worry when the normally outgoing Sharon drew inward. Sharon snapped out of it enough to turn off her video games and instead exercise her typing fingers and internet savvy. She cruised the web, and began to search for a companion on Petfinder.com. That is how she found and rescued Snowy, her Siberian Husky. “She was my angel,” Ridilla said. Within three days of Snowy joining her family, Ridilla's mood lifted. “This dog took me out of my depression,” she said. Snowy gave Ridilla the purpose she was seeking to get back on track. Sharon would be tired, but then take Snowy for a walk, and her energy levels would increase. “It pushes me,” she said. After experiencing the positive results from bringing Snowy into her life, Ridilla spotted a fuzzy white Siberian Husky puppy in the window at the pet store in the Rockaway Mall. She decided right there to bring home a playmate for Snowy. She named the puppy Maya after the lead Husky in the film Eight Below. Two years after getting over her depression, Ridilla’s example helped a friend who suffered the effects of a hernia. Like Ridilla, her friend adopted a dog and triumphed over depression. “Adopt a pet, you will get constant love, a snuggle partner, and the encouragement to exercise and get back to your life,” Ridilla concluded. Other advice from Ridilla “Breast self-exams are a must.” “Finding a lump gives you the worst feeling in the world. Get over it and go to a breast specialist or surgeon. The longer you wait gives the cancer time to grow and probably spread to other areas.” “When you are told 'it’s just a cyst’ or 'we’ll take a look at a later time,’ get another opinion, follow your gut feeling.” “Breast cancer is a disease of the body, mind and spirit. A positive spirit will help you become a survivor Anger and bitterness makes it harder for your body to fight and your spirit to heal. Relax, accept help, and enjoy life.”