Friday, May 15, 2015

Dogs May Have Detected Cancer in Indiana NPR Radio Host

Stan Sollars still has a bad day every now and then. It hits him hard and unexpectedly; he cries as he imagines "worst-case scenarios" from a bygone point in his life. Then, after gathering himself, Sollars carries on.
It's like that for most all cancer survivors, though, even those like Sollars, who many would never guess were once afflicted.
"Stuff just hits you sometimes," he said. "You can't paste on being positive. You just can't fake that."
Sollars is a "glass-half-full kind of guy," but he's also a realist. When he was diagnosed with stage-3 esophageal cancer in August 2014, the then-58-year-old Sollars knew little about the disease, but he knew himself. Even after learning all there was to know about his condition, he was resolute.
"I wasn't going to accept not recovering from this," he said.
In reality, his life isn't much different than it was before his diagnosis; the only differences are he's 59 now, and free of detectable cancer.
The upbeat and witty Sollars still hosts Indiana Public Radio's broadcasts of Morning Edition from NPR. He still teaches telecommunications at Ball State University. He's happily married to Allison Pareis, with whom he has two children, of sorts.
Those children – one a 10-year-old smooth-haired dachshund named Penny Lane, the other a 6-year-old wire-haired dachshund named Hairy Truman – not only comforted Sollars, they helped him heal.
It was never a question of whether or not I'd survive; I knew I was going to be OK," Sollars said. "It was just a matter of figuring out a way to recover as quickly and healthily as possible. These (dogs) were a major part of that process."
A man and his dogs
Well before his six-hour surgery last November, and perhaps even before he was diagnosed, Sollars and his wife believe their dogs were hinting something was amiss.
Each dog would lay its head in the area the tumor was later found, sniffing and nosing Sollars in a way different than they'd done in the past.
"They'd lay down (on that spot) and we didn't know what to make of that," Pareis said. "When he was diagnosed, and we thought about what the dogs were doing, it all kind of made sense."

"They detected the cancer, I think," Sollars said.
Recent studies have suggested canines can detect cancerous tumors early on, though there is little data on detection of esophageal cancer strains to this point. Even so, Sollars and Pareis said their dogs have done more than just serve as kind and caring companions. They've also given Sollars and Pareis a morale boost.
When he got home from his nine-day stay at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis after surgery, Sollars was overrun by the two dogs, who were bouncing excitedly around him.
"One of the things I was told not to do during my recovery was that I shouldn't lift more than 10 pounds," he said. "Each dog weighs about 11 pounds, so I may have broken that rule a few times."
Even now, the dogs play a big role in Sollars' continuing recovery. From a physical aspect, he said, walking the dogs is beneficial because it's a simple but effective way to exercise and get out of the house. On the emotional side, the two canines are members of an extensive support team that includes Pareis, family members and friends.
"They just give me this look, and that's when I know something's going on with Stan," Pareis said. "They're (telling me) to go check on him, I think."According to William Kessler, a gastroenterology specialist with IU Health, the survival rate of esophageal cancer isn't good. At about 15 percent when it's not detected early on, cancer of the esophagus is one of the hardest to cure behind the likes of lung and colon cancers.
"It's the most rapidly increasing form of cancer in men," he said. "In the last 30 years, the number of cases have gone up by 600 percent."
And while Sollars isn't sure what caused him to get cancer in the first place – he'd never smoked and rarely consumed alcohol – he never gave the survival rate statistic much of a second glance in his situation.
"I didn't care, to be honest. I know my own limits, and I knew I could beat it," he said. "I wasn't trying to survive, I was trying to (live) and be cured."
A helping paw
In many ways, being caregivers and good friends is what a dog is bringing to the healing process, Sollars said.
"Dogs are a huge part of aftercare, and mine would look me right in the eyes," he said. "They even sent me some messages, I think."
According to Sollars, it's important to return that love to them in our own way.
Repost of Article by Mickey Schuey May 14, 2015
Courtesy of Mickey's Pet Supplies