Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to a Cancerous Growth on Her Bosom
"I don't know what my chances of survival would have been without him (Sumo). I know I'd certainly be far worse off. I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I feel humbled. I can't understand why this animal turned up for me."
-- Judy Danchura
"You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats," so goes an old American Sprichwort. Judy Danchura is not an American but she probably would agree.
Last June, the Winnipeg resident befriended a homeless orange and white cat named Sumo and that simple act of compassion very well may have saved her life. (See photos above and below of her and Sumo.)
Hours after taking him into her house, Sumo climbed into bed with Danchura and her husband. In doing so he inadvertently stepped on her chest unleashing a sharp pain that coursed through her bosom. Upon examining her breasts the following morning she discovered the presence of a lump.
"I sort of went, 'Oh geez, there's something wrong there'," she recalled for the benefit of the CBC on March 1st. (See "Stray Cat Credited in Cancer Diagnosis.")
A hurriedly arranged trip to the doctor and a series of diagnostic tests confirmed her worst fears: she had breast cancer. Thanks to the cat that she now refers to as her "furry four-footed angel," the malignant tumor was detected early and Danchura's chances of surviving are pegged at ninety-five per cent.
"I don't know what my chances of survival would have been without him (Sumo). I know I'd certainly be far worse off," she told the CBC in the article cited supra. "I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I feel humbled. I can't understand why this animal turned up for me."
The compassion that she has in her heart for homeless cats coupled with her gratitude for life's blessings are reminiscent of the same attributes exhibited last summer by Georgia resident Rachel Honeycutt under equally trying circumstances. (See Cat Defender post of August 10, 2009 entitled "Georgia Woman Is Struck and Nearly Killed by a Motorist while Attempting to Rescue Kittens Dumped in the Middle of a Busy Highway.")
Even more astounding, this is the second instance in recent memory where a cat has been credited with detecting cancer in his caretaker. Last year, an eight-year-old orange cat named Tiger detected stage one lung cancer in his owner, fifty-nine-year-old Calgary resident Lionel Adams. (See photo below of Tiger.)
"He (Tiger) would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side," Adams later revealed. "He was adamant there was something there and it was right where the cancer was."
Like Danchura, Adams therefore is convinced that his cat saved his life. "I think if he hadn't done that pawing part it could have gone on for another five, six months undetected," he theorized. (See Cat Defender post of April 11, 2009 entitled "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Left Lung.")
Skeptics may scoff at the life-saving heroics of both Sumo and Tiger but in treating cancer early detection is the key and both Danchura and Adams are in considerably better shape than they otherwise would have been because of their cats. Hopefully, both will lick the "Big C" and go on to have many more happy years with their cats.
In addition to detecting cancerous growths, cats long have been known to lower blood pressure levels in their owners. Moreover, additional health benefits that derive from cat-ownership are being reported each year.
For instance, an Albany, Oregon, cat named Blackie has taught himself to detect emphysema attacks. (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2009 entitled "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breathing for Emphysema Attacks.")
Other cats have taught themselves to detect low blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from diabetes by simply sniffing their breaths. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2009 entitled "Elijah Teaches Himself How to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardian and Others.")
Individuals who rescue cats and other animals know only too well that they are the lucky ones because these animals often will spend the remainder of their lives repaying them for their kindness. It is man, not the animals, who is an ingrate.
Of course, cats always have contributed mightily to human health and welfare by keeping the destructive rodent population in check. They thus have not only secured man's food supply but checked the spread of disease as well. Accordingly, a good argument could be made that throughout history cats have been man's best friend.
Moreover, whenever man has disrespected cats disastrous results have ensued. For example, that was what happened when the Roman Catholic Church declared war upon the species during the Middle Ages and thus allowed the unchecked bubonic plague, which was spread by rodents, to kill one-quarter of all Europeans.
Now, centuries later, bird and wildlife advocates are falsely accusing these immaculate creatures of carrying diseases as one justification for exterminating them on more than one-hundred islands around the world as well as anywhere else that they are able to get away with their egregious crimes.
Although extremely useful, cats are valued even more because they make such agreeable companions. For example, a writer without a cat is an anomaly.
As French veterinarian and writer Fernand Mery understood only too well: "Dieu a fait le chat pour donner a l'homme le plaisir de caresser le tigre."
Photos: CBC (Danchura and Sumo) and CTV (Tiger).