Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dog sniffs out owner's cancer and saves her life

There is no doubt who is top dog in Maureen Burns’s house – it’s Max, her red collie cross. Maureen owes her life to the clever canine who detected her deadly breast cancer. The 64-year-old realised something was wrong when Max started acting strangely.

From being lively, he became withdrawn. He also kept sniffing Maureen’s breath and nudging her right breast. Max’s odd behaviour prompted Maureen to check her breasts and she discovered a small lump in the right one. But the growth did not show up on a hospital mammogram.

Still convinced that something was wrong, she persuaded surgeons to do a biopsy. And Maureen’s hunch was proved right when the results confirmed there was a lump – and it was malignant.

Maureen, who lives in Rugby, believes she would not be here today if it weren’t for her 10-year-old dog. She said: “I do believe that Max has saved my life. It was his peculiar reaction that alerted me to the fact that something was wrong. At first I thought he was just getting old, he was not so playful and his eyes were sad. He’d sniff my breath in an odd way – I even asked my husband Roger if I had halitosis.

“Max would also nudge my right breast then back away. Then one day I felt this lump. Max looked at me so sadly and I instantly knew I had cancer. On the same day as the biopsy I told my nurse that I already knew, as my dear dog had told me. I thought she’d laugh but she said she’d heard it before.”

Maureen had two operations to remove the malignant lump, as well as radiotherapy. Her prognosis is excellent. “Back home I was greeted by my old Max,” she said. “He even sniffed my wound and wagged his tail. And he doesn’t sniff my breath any more.”

There's a news video here.

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