Dog owner: ‘My dog detected my breast cancer’

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ROCHESTER, Minn.  –  A breast cancer survivor says she knows just who to thank for saving her life. Her dog.

Tara Leonard says her dog, Willow, might have saved her life by “discovering” her breast cancer.

“I was laying in bed studying for a test, when Willow jumped up on the bed, put her nose to my left side, I told her to get down I was busy studying,” Leonard says.  But the Golden Retriever – Saint Bernard mix was persistent and jumped back up.

Leonard noticed this was strange behavior for her usually well-behaved dog.

“She got down on the floor and was sneezing and doing whatever she could, just being weird. Jumped back up on the bed, pushed on it and this time, it was wet slimy and gross and I went to go wipe it off and that’s when I felt the lump.”

Leonard went to see a doctor right away.  She had a mammogram and biopsy and then got the diagnosis.

She had invasive ductal carcinoma, breast cancer.

Leonard had just turned 40 and had a semester left of school.

She wasn’t planning on getting her first mammogram for several months.

“The doctors said that we caught it just in time. I had no node involvement but they said it would have only been a matter of time before it spread to the nodes.”

So did Willow really detect the tumor? Leonard is a veterinary technician and she believes it’s absolutely possible. There’s research being done to back that up.

According to the In-Situ Foundation,  dogs have evolved to detect changes in humans.

Since humans provide food, water and shelter for them, dogs will notice if something could threaten that.

Leonard is now cancer-free with a whole new attitude on life.

“You just have to give her that extra hug and that extra kiss and realize that she’s there for a reason.”