Michele Newman has faced death, loss, and immense hardship. What’s kept her here is the fact she knows her life has purpose.
Michele rescues senior dogs. I met her when she rescued a dog name Hooch. He had spent 10 years on a chain. We connected instantly and then she went quiet for a long time. I recently asked her what had happened. This was her response:
“Without the dogs in my life there would be no me. That’s a fact. It is only through all the innocent souls who not only looked forward to me going into the shelter every day but those who needed me to pull them to safety into my rescue group to spend their last days, weeks or months, that gave my life true meaning.
In October 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy. Eighteen months later my husband Bill and I went to a doctor who diagnosed me with infertility. Bill left me on the spot and never talked, touched or looked at me again.
A month later I tested positive for BRCA, a genetic disorder. A year later I had a hysterectomy and just months after that, had a double bilateral mastectomy. An infection ensued and I was rushed into surgery because of a hematoma.
All this time I had no one. But I did have my dogs, all old souls counting on me as much as I needed them. I reached out to a couple of girls at work and without hesitation, they came. One took the keys to my house and promised to take care of the dogs, while the other reminded me that my pups needed me to be strong and focused. Another girl and her boyfriend stayed in the hospital and waited out my surgery. Tina, Laurie, & Rose acted how I only wish all of humanity would act toward one another- with a kind heart and selfless soul.
After the surgery I became deathly ill and was placed under the care of infectious disease doctors who placed a PIC line in me to receive treatments. But one night I couldn’t breathe and dialed 911. An ambulance rushed me to the hospital and I had emergency surgery to find out my gallbladder was gangrene. The surgeon told me it had most likely been dead for seven months. I’d used my life reserve to stay alive.
After that, I had seven surgeries to rid my body of the infection and scar tissue. I had skin graphs and spacers placed to help relieve some pressure from my chest.
While going through all this I lost six of my dogs, Rilee, Mikey D, Brooklyn, Kane, Flower, and Mya. Pushing on without them was near to impossible – and so my fight continued for the others.
I did my grieving in silence. I didn’t want pity and believed if I talked about it, it would take root. So my mission was to cleanse my body of all negativity and to believe that God’s plan was for me to share my story to inspire those around me not to dwell on the sadness. So I grieved my losses with my dogs around me and it was ONLY through them and their unconditional love that I was able to achieve happiness. I owe them my life!”
Photo: Michele with Zeus.
Tattoos: The name of every dog who loved her through her medical journey.
Charity: Senior Animal Medical Aid Fund: