CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It is common to see furry friends walking around the halls at The Medical University of South Carolina.
The pet therapy program has more than 60 volunteers and give patients, like Tina Atkinson, a reason to look forward to coming to the hospital.
Atkinson has stage four colon cancer and travels to MUSC from Myrtle Beach every two weeks.
A few months ago, she met Susannah Hubbell and her dog, Sophie, while getting chemotherapy treatments at the Hollings Cancer Center.
“The first time I saw Sophie my eyes lit up," Atkinson said. “I was like, ‘Oh she’s so sweet!'"
Sophie has her own volunteer badge with her name, picture and a a little bite-mark. She only weighs a few pounds and is a perfect companion to get on a hospital bed or a patient’s lap.
“What is fun about being at Hollings is we’re coming once a week and so often our patients do too," Hubbell said. “So we get to build relationships with the patients that are there.”
Atkinson had a stroke two years ago and was diagnosed with cancer in 2018. She said there were many times when she cried in the hospital but the dogs helped turn her day around.
“It does make you feel good," she added. "Sophie just sits here and lets you love on her and she makes you happy. It gives you something to look forward to and she does bring me a lot of comfort."
Atkinson is thankful for volunteers like Susannah Hubbell and Sophie. They are thankful to work with the patients every week.
“I find that so often when Sophie jumps in the lap of a patient, there’s just this calm that passes over. There’s something special about a little dog because you don’t have to explain anything to them they just meet you where are,” added Hubbell.
Atkinson will continue to get chemotherapy every two weeks and looks forward to her continued relationship with Hubbell and Sophie.
If you are interested in volunteering at MUSC, click: here.