A grandmother claims her annoying dog saved her life by constantly sniffing her behind.
Lindsey Thwaites, from Chapeltown in South Yorkshire, was finally diagnosed with anal cancer.
She was afraid to ask for a medical opinion because her two-year-old Border Collie Brian “wouldn’t leave me alone.”
Mrs Thwaites, 51, has suffered from piles since giving birth in the 1990s, but began experiencing pain and some bleeding in May.
Lindsey Thwaites, 51, put her discomfort down to painful haemorrhoids, but after her dog Brian continued to sniff her bottom, she made an appointment with her GP and was eventually diagnosed with cancer.
One night she woke up horrified and discovered that she was covered in blood, which had soaked through her underwear and pajamas.
Mrs. Thwaites dismissed it as a potential period, cleaned herself up, and went back to bed.
But Brian apparently sensed something was wrong.
Mrs Thwaites, married to Dave, 69, then discovered a lump the size of a marble on her genitals.
She credits her dog’s persistent attention for persuading her to visit her GP to get him checked out, which ultimately led to her diagnosis of stage three anal cancer just a month later.
Sharing her ordeal to encourage people to overcome embarrassment and get anything unusual checked, Mrs Thwaites said: “Brian saved my life, he pushed me to go to my GP.
‘Brian only comes for a love when he wants a love, but he just won’t leave me alone.
Brian, a two-and-a-half-year-old border collie, constantly sniffed the same area, causing Mrs. Thwaites to worry that he could smell the cancer.
Mrs Thwaites, married to Dave Thwaites, 69 (pictured left), is sharing her ordeal to encourage people to get over the embarrassment and get anything unusual checked.
“He kept smelling my butt all the time and followed me, and I was like, ‘Brian, stop it.’
‘I told my husband “it’s scaring me because I know dogs can smell cancer.”
Recalling her diagnosis, Mrs Thwaites added: “The first thing that goes through your mind is that you are going to die.”
Before going to the doctor, Mrs Thwaites thought the pain was simply due to piles, but this time the cream did not help it go away.
She said: ‘I have always suffered from piles since I had my first child 32 years ago.
What is anal cancer?
Anal cancer is a rare cancer that begins in the anus, the opening at the end of the intestine.
Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to divide and grow uncontrollably.
Symptoms of this cancer may include:
- intestinal changes
- severe itching
However, these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions such as piles (hemorrhoids). But it is important that you consult your family doctor if you have any symptoms. Some people may not have symptoms.
Some people also experience a lump or the feeling that they need to have a bowel movement.
Mucus coming out of the anus (discharge) can be a sign of anal cancer, as can a sore that does not heal.
Fountain: Cancer research in the UK
‘They came and went, sometimes they hurt a little, other times I didn’t know I had them.
‘If they hurt a little or stung a little I used some cream, other times I left them and they just went away.
“But these weren’t going, they were getting worse and they felt bigger and bigger.”
Since his diagnosis in June, he now faces grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Mrs Thwaites says cancer is so “painful and uncomfortable” that waking up, sitting up and lying on her back causes pain.
She said, “It’s like shoving a grapefruit halfway up your butt and leaving the rest out.”
‘They had to put a stoma bag on me because I can’t go to the bathroom. The tumor is so large that it blocks everything.
But with the support of her dog Brian, she won’t let cancer get her down.
She said: ‘Brian has been amazing, he comes in for hugs all the time. He is so kind to me that he lies down on the back of the couch and rests his head on my shoulder as if to say, “I’m taking care of you.”
He has been my therapy dog. He’s my little superhero.’
Mrs Thwaites is sharing her diagnosis to encourage people to get over their embarrassment and go to a doctor to have anything unusual checked out.
She said: ‘Don’t be embarrassed, doctors have seen it all before.
‘If you find a lump, something doesn’t seem right or you’re bleeding, go to the doctor and get checked out.
Mrs Thwaites says the tumor is so “painful and uncomfortable” that waking up, sitting up and lying on her back causes pain. She has also had a stoma bag because the tumor prevents her from going to the bathroom.
Brian has been a “superhero” and has comforted Mrs Thwaites during her battle with cancer. He now faces grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Jessop Hospital in Sheffield, West Yorkshire, starting this month.
“A lot of people said they didn’t know you could get cancer there.”
Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and can detect “volatile organic compounds,” which are released in the early stages of many cancers.
Scientific studies have even shown that dogs can separate blood and tissue samples donated from ovarian cancer patients and healthy people by detecting trace amounts of VOCs.
Dogs have also been found to detect prostate cancer in a man’s urine.
It is said that if a dog detects cancer in its owner, it may try to alert him by paying more attention to him, smelling him, or ‘comforting’ him by gently licking his hands or feet, or lying next to him for no reason.