How 500,000 Dogs Are Helping a Teen With Cancer

Facebook is a go-to for all kinds of therapy: Breakup therapy, ate-too-much-pasta therapy, and now, canine cancer therapy.

In December, a woman whose friend’s son has cancer created a Facebook page, Photo Doggies for Anthony. The 16-year-old had already been getting pet therapy (hospitals around the country have programs; dogs can help decrease anxiety and despair levels). But, notes the page founder, “Some days he gets doggy visits and some he does not. They make him smile. I thought if I create this event, you can post a picture of your dog to help make him smile. His mom shows them to him and he smiles.”

The page went viral, receiving more than 500,000 photos, per Today—and could prove particularly handy this week, as Anthony reportedly undergoes another round of chemotherapy for his acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona. ALL is the most common childhood cancer, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with a typical three-part treatment to kill leukemia cells, get rid of them, and then do maintenance to decimate any stubborn cells.

Anthony has taken comfort in the puppy pictures, said his mom, Kristen Lyons, on the Facebook page. “We have laughed ohhhed and ached at every single photo and video so far it has really been a joy…”

About 98% of children with this kind of leukemia go into remission within weeks after starting treatment. Here’s hoping Anthony quickly becomes part of that statistic, with plenty of comfort from man’s BFF.

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