It was a one-two punch for Mitch Herman of Chagrin Falls.
Herman’s certified therapy dog, Sawyer, unexpectedly passed away.
"He didn't make it. It was devastating. Sawyer hadn’t even made it to his first therapy session with cancer patients when he died," said Herman.
Then shortly after Sawyer died, doctors diagnosed Mitch with cancer. It turned out Mitch would himself be hooking up to chemotherapy where he was supposed to be visiting others with Sawyer.
But Mitch Herman became a story of hope and resiliency when, in remission, he started paying it forward with his NEW four legged friend Maggie at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute.
"It's relaxing. It takes your mind off of where you are," said Nick Kadas, of Tremont, as he snuggled up to Maggie during Wednesday’s chemo treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
It is still hard for Mitch to talk about his own diagnosis.
“Because it’s something you don't think you would ever have and it's just raw," says Herman.
Which makes Mitch Herman the perfect “been there, done that” mentor to keep it real for patients fighting today.
"You're relatively healthy. You’re running. You’re living your life and all of sudden you get whacked!" says Herman.
But Herman fought! He sat in the same chairs as those at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute who are fighting now. Hooked up to chemo injections that have to kill part of them in order to get to so much living still ahead of them.
And then, in the midst of treatment, in walks survivor Mitch Herman and his 4 legged social worker of sorts with her soulful eyes.
“Maggie is a magnet for these people. They look forward to the next time they get to see her there," says Herman.
Because, see, Maggie has also been there done that.
She’s been by Mitch's side since day one of treatment.
"After my first chemo she was licking my head as I lay there. She knows. She’s got that sixth sense too. She’s my girl. And the reality is she gives these other patients hope for a good tomorrow," says Herman.
"She just cheers you up. Maggie brings you to life," said Tom Moehle of Norwalk, during his appointment at Taussig on Wednesday.
It’s on the patients faces that you see how Mitch and Maggie are leaving their mark as the softer side of kicking cancer at the Cleveland Clinic.
Mitch even works for a company that sells cancer fighting drugs. Since he was diagnosed himself, he says Novartis Oncology has been happy to give him the time he needs to volunteer at the Cleveland Clinic.
That’s good stuff too.
So, it’s straight to #TheGoodStuff file with this story of resiliency and hope.
Thank you, Mitch and Maggie, for paying it forward.