Stephanie Herfel, a 52-year-old Wisconsin resident, first experienced her Dog Sierra’s heroics in 2013. “She put her nose on my lower belly and sniffed so intently that I thought I spilled something on my clothes,” Herfel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “She did it a second and then a third time. After the third time, Sierra went and hid. I mean hid!”
Herfel then decided to make a doctor’s appointment and started to get an idea of what her husky had been sniffing. A gynecologist told Herfel that she had an ovarian cyst and wrote her a prescription for some pain medication.
But when Herfel came back home with pain medication in hand, Sierra started behaving weirdly again. The dog reportedly curled up into a ball in Herfel’s closet. Concerned about Sierra’s behavior, Herfel went back to the gynecologist who then confirmed that Herfel had stage III ovarian cancer.
“To see her become so afraid was spooky in its own right. So I made an appointment with a gynecologist and in a matter of weeks and some blood work with an ultrasound, on 11-11-13 I was sitting in the gynecology oncologist room in shock that I had cancer,” Herfel said.
Herfel began experiencing the same kind of discomfort in 2015 and in 2016. Each time, Sierra behaved the same way that she had in 2013, and each time medical professionals confirmed that Herfel’s cancer had returned. The first time her cancer returned it was in her liver, and the second time it was in her pelvic area.
Is it really true ?
Dr. David Kushner, Herfel’s primary oncologist, said that Sierra’s actions were not coincidental by any means.
Her primary oncologist, David Kushner, told her Sierra’s ability was not a fluke or a lucky guess. There have been other dogs of various breeds with this extraordinary skill, and their accuracy rate is 98% and applies to a number of cancer types. Dogs from various breeds indeed have the ability to detect a number of different types of cancer via their sense of smell with an accuracy greater than 98 percent.
“It’s almost like the dog knows what’s going on and is scared,” Ashley Wagner, from the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance, told the Journal Sentinel.
Little Background on Stephanie Herfel
From 1984 to 1989, she was tough enough to serve in the United States Marine Corps in the 1980s, and she’s up to the challenge of ovarian cancer, too. She’s now disease-free and on a daily regimen of oral chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial, though she wonders and worries if Sierra would be able to smell cancer through the chemo. She feels like she’s living a miracle. She is now retired from her job as a proposal and grant writer. She spends a lot of time raising funds for research and supporting women across the country with ovarian cancer. She calls them her teal sisters, the color assigned to raise awareness of this illness.
Sierra is fine when Stephanie is fine. The husky likes her tennis balls and hedgehog toy, car rides, long walks and playing outside in winter. But she is very protective of Stephanie, always lying between her and the outside door.
(Photo Credits: Stephanie Herfel)