Four-legged friend brings joy to cancer survivor

charley@beaufortgazette.comOctober 16, 2012 

Alice Craig of Beaufort sits in her living room with her dog Cuddles. Craig, who has cancer, says Cuddles has played a major part in her recovery process.

DELAYNA EARLEY/THE ISLAND PACKET

  • The Bark for Life walk, which benefits the American Cancer Society, is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Registration begins at 9 a.m. at Habersham Marketplace, 13 Market St., Beaufort. The Beaufort Agility club will hold demonstrations. Beaufort Dog will offer a low-cost vet clinic with proceeds going to the ACS.

    Details: 843-592-0752, http://relayforlife.org/barkbeaufortsc

An almost 20-pound bundle of fur named Cuddles and a man known as Tux the Clown help keep a smile on Alice Tucker Craig's face and her spirits high as she fights cancer for the second time in 10 years.

Of course, it's no surprise that Alice's husband of 50 years, John, continues to make his wife laugh -- even without the makeup and big red nose. But Cuddles' companionship has been a special comfort to the 69-year-old Shell Point resident.

The couple adopted Cuddles at the Hilton Head Humane Association when she was just 5 weeks old. They are hoping to participate in the American Cancer Society's Bark for Life, a walk for people and dogs who have survived cancer, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Habersham Marketplace, 13 Market St., Beaufort. Participants will walk around Habersham Marketplace -- each lap is about five minutes long.

Alice won her battle with breast cancer a decade ago but has been fighting pancreatic cancer for the past year. Chemotherapy treatments continue, but her doctors don't know how long she will be able to take the treatments, which often make her nauseated and weak. They are unable to treat her with radiation.

"I don't think I could survive without Cuddles," Alice said.

Charlie Holley, a nursing student and chairman for Relay For Life, which oversees Bark for Life, said he and committee members thought Beaufort's dog-friendly community would be the perfect place for Bark for Life. Both of Holley's parents were diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other, so fighting cancer is a particularly important cause to him.

This event is about recognizing canine cancer and "the survivors who have canines ... by their sides throughout their treatment and till the day they die," Holley said.

When Alice is down or in pain, Cuddles offers a prescription of her own -- she licks Alice's face.

"She can make me laugh when I am feeling the worst," Alice said.

Cuddles keeps Alice focused on the positive.

"Her mood will suit our mood," John said of the dachshund-chihuahua mix. "Cuddles makes her think about Cuddles as opposed to thinking about herself."

Alice said she hopes her health will hold up so that she and Cuddles make the survivors' walk Saturday.

She does not know what her prognosis is.

"We are just taking it day by day," she said.

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