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Military family seeking therapy dog for daughter diagnosed with cancer

Tina Gillies and Michael Miller never imagined their life would turn into multiple hospital visits, tests and later a cancer diagnosis for their 13-year-old daughter Kadence.

Gillies, a former Image Technician with Canadian Armed Forces and Miller, a Traffic Technician, both having done tours in Afghanistan were first given the news that their daughter had some form of Stage 4 Cancer on March 18.

Since then, Kadence has received her first round of chemo and radiation and received a confirmed diagnosis of the type of cancer she has.

“We just got confirmation today,” said Gillies. “It’s a rare type of brain cancer, but she doesn’t have it in her brain, it’s actually in her pelvic area,”

So far there is not a lot of information about Medulloepithelioma a rare, fast-growing brain tumour, and Kadence’s family is hoping to help her with the stress and fear she will endure during her treatment with a therapy dog. 

Currently, therapy dogs are used in many hospitals across the country offering support to patients dealing with various medical conditions. They visit hospitals for a few hours at a time. However individual visits can be as short as 15 to 20 minutes. 

Her family is hoping to raise the funds so they can have one as a permanent part of her journey, not only to help Kadence but to be there for her three other siblings, Danny, Liam, and Kurt. 

Courageous Companions Canada met with Kadence and her family with three service dogs last week to ask questions and ultimately see what type would be best for her.

“The Chairman of Courageous Companions came to our home with his dogs to talk to Kadence about anxiety, emotional support through the animals with her treatment plan,” said Gillies. “We wanted to know what dog would be best for our family as a whole and decided that a Golden Retriever was the best option.” 

Once they are able to move forward with getting a dog, they will decide what training plan they will choose, whether a puppy would be best, but they would need to train or an older pre-trained dog. 

A family friend, Nicole Elder-Kopp started the GoFundMe on their behalf and in 18 days has reached 50 per cent of their goal. 

In the meantime, Kadence is in high spirits occupying her time with her favourite hobby, drawing. 

“Keeping positive spirits, what we’ve been told is the most important part of fighting cancer,” said Gillies

Click here contribute to Kadence’s Gofundme Page.

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Paige LeClair

As a recent graduate from the St. Thomas University Journalism program, Paige has a passion for storytelling and investigative journalism. In 2016, she, along with her journalism team were awarded first place at the Emerge Media Awards in the multimedia category. The team was also a finalist at the Canadian Association of Journalist Awards. She is excited to work with other military spouses providing stories and information to the military community. Paige is newly married to Andrew, a Lineman, and moved to their first posting in Petawawa in May of this year. She is excited to begin this journey with Andrew, their dog Diablo, and cat, Linux

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Canadian Military Family Magazine