Cancer is never an easy battle to face. It’s much harder to face alone. Everyone needs someone by their side as they take on the fight for their life – even if that supportive someone is a dog. For 25-year-old Sydnee Geril from Ocala, Florida, her biggest support is her service dog, Tulsa. The two of them have been inseparable since they met, and the dog has brought so much joy and happiness into her life.
Geril has been fighting an ongoing battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. She also has a phobia of needles which often leads her to faint during her chemotherapy sessions. However, Tulsa is always there to provide backup in the form of emotional support. Geril first was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma back in October of 2017. She had to endure nine months of chemotherapy before she finally went into remission.
During her stay at the hospital, Geril was often visited by the therapy dogs. They were always a highlight in her day and the comfort they provided her eventually led her into looking into getting a dog of her own. That is how Tulsa happened to come into her life.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t happily ever after from there since her cancer ended up making a return after eight months. When her cancer returned, Geril decided to get Tulsa trained as a service dog – something that has been somewhat of an arduous process. While the 2-year-old Tulsa is still learning the ropes of her job, she is still proving to be a wonderful service dog as she can detect when Geril is about to faint. Tulsa then alerts Geril by placing a paw on her leg, giving the woman a good 10-30 minutes to prepare.
As Geril shared with Today, “It’s huge; it’s given me my freedom back greatly. I can go out by myself now.”
Geril and Tulsa were regulars at the Moffitt Cancer Center, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Geril had to stop bringing Tulsa to her appointments because of her compromised immune system. Geril couldn’t risk potentially catching the coronavirus through Tulsa’s fur. This devastating blow of not being able to bring her best friend with her began to have a major effect on both Geril’s physical and mental health. Geril had to begin to use a wheelchair in case she passed out. But beyond that, she just really missed having the company of Tulsa.
Fortunately for Geril things began to look up in May after she came across the Shed Defender. What it is, is essentially a onesie that covers a dog’s fur in order to prevent and control their shedding. While its initial use was not for protecting against COVID-19, it ended up working out as a sort of little hazmat suit that Tulsa could wear into the hospital. And the best part is that Tulsa didn’t seem to mind the bodysuit and booties one bit – she was just happy to get to accompany Geril again. Now, all Geril has to do after every appointment is wash the suit and wipe down Tulsa’s head and face. Perfect solution! So happy that Geril has her buddy back for her appointments.