When you see this photo, you likely see the cute face of a Siberian Husky. But you should be focusing on her life saving nose.
Sierra the dog has been the first to detect Stephanie Herfel’s cancer not once, not twice, but three times! And if that isn't enough, she has also sniffed out cancer in several others as well.
Sierra’s first cancer detection occurred in 2013 when she was about 2 years old. Herfel had been experiencing some abdominal pain, but a doctor told her she had an ovarian cyst and prescribed antibiotics. Herfel truly felt concerned when Sierra reacted in a very peculiar way to her stomach.
“She put her nose on my lower belly and sniffed so intently that I thought I spilled something on my clothes. She did it a second and then a third time. After the third time, Sierra went and hid. And I mean hid!” Herfel told the Journal Sentinel.
Herfel eventually found Sierra hidden deep in the back of the closet. Herfel then listened to her instincts and made an appointment with a gynecologist. Sadly, after a battery of tests, it was revealed that she had stage 3C ovarian cancer.
After undergoing a hysterectomy, Herfel stayed on chemotherapy meds until 2014. Doctors told her she was fortunate to catch it when she did. Then in 2015 and 2016, Sierra detected cancer in Herfel again by hiding in the closet – this time for when the cancer reoccurred in Herfel’s liver and then in her pelvic area.
Sierra also hid in the closet when a friend with a pre-known ovarian cancer case stopped by their home in Madison, Wisconsin for a visit. To top it off, the pup reacted the same way when a worker came by to help remodel Herfel’s kitchen. Herfel and her husband then notified the worker’s boss because they felt it was the right thing to do.
Herfel, now 52 years old and retired from her job as a proposal writer, is cancer-free and working as an advocate for the disease. She hopes to write a book about the dog who saved her life!
“I owe my life to that dog,” Herfel told the Sentinel. “She’s really been a godsend to me. She has never been wrong.”