ASHEBORO, N.C. - A small yet mighty warrior now walks the halls of a North Carolina hospital, showcasing the courage and strength within us.
If you were to ask any patient whom he has comforted or coworkers he has helped deliver a smile to, they would admit that 6-year-old Quinn has been a true testament to the power of determination and the importance of never giving up – even if he's a red golden retriever.
Randolph Health's therapy dog, Quinn, was diagnosed with lymphoma in June. (Randolph Health)
In June, the beloved Randolph Health therapy dog in Asheboro received a devastating diagnosis. The furry companion was found to be suffering from a rare and aggressive type of T-cell lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the blood and can be quite difficult to treat.
After enduring 12 rounds of chemotherapy, Quinn and his owner, Marsha Rogers, celebrated his victory like most humans do in a bell-ringing ceremony.
The faithful dog's significant contribution to the lives of those around him did not need an extravagant cape or a large gathering of friends to be recognized. Yet they wanted to as a small gesture of gratitude for his help navigating through the challenging times in their lives.
It was a day that they would cherish forever.
On Nov. 27, Quinn completed his final chemotherapy. (Randolph Health)
The waiting room
In May, Rogers had a total knee replacement. Upon reuniting with her four dogs, she noticed something was wrong with Quinn.
Despite attempts to encourage him, he had refused to eat for over a week. Rogers took him to the veterinarian for tests, and she was shocked by the news she received.
"I'll never forget the day," she recalled. "My vet called and said, ‘Marsha, I hate to tell you this, but I really think Quinn has lymphoma.'"
Rogers is familiar with the unpleasant "C-word."
Before Quinn came into her life, Rogers was in the process of training another therapy dog. However, bone cancer took that dog's life shortly after its second birthday.
Rogers said her veterinarian convinced her to get Quinn pet insurance when he was a puppy.
It was love at first sight for Rogers when she met Quinn for the first time. (Marsha Rogers)
"Thank God I listened to her," she praised as she held back her tears. "If we had not done the chemo, he would be gone already. It's like 6-8 weeks that he would have had."
‘He runs the show’
After Quinn was diagnosed, some wondered if he could handle chemotherapy.
Rogers had a thought in her mind. If Quinn was successfully treated, would the hospital allow him to have a bell-ringing ceremony similar to the one humans have when they finish their treatments? After all, the superstar was in remission.
"I wanted him to be recognized for that," Rogers said. "I wanted the love to return to him that he'd given out."
Quinn endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy. (Marsha Rogers)
Quinn has been positively impacting cancer patients at Randolph Health since the pet therapy program was launched around the pandemic. They would eagerly wait in line just to spend a few minutes with him while receiving their chemotherapy. Quinn would sit next to them, allowing them to hold his paw and even give him a gentle rub on the head to provide comfort.
"I am nothing with Quinn," Rogers said. "All I do is hold the leash and go in. He runs the show. Quinn knows every room to go in at the hospital."
Victory for a warrior
When someone who has been battling cancer finishes their treatment and rings a bell, it is a symbol of their triumph over the disease.
Upon learning of Quinn's remission, Patty Cox, nursing director at Randolph Health, quickly organized a special celebration to honor his life and his achievement in not only defeating cancer but also coping with the challenges of chemotherapy.
"She said, 'We're going to make it happen.' And she did," Rogers said. "It was amazing."
Quinn is a true and unstoppable champion. (Randolph Health)
All they needed now was a bell at Quinn's height.
Cox crafted a stand in her woodworking shop, even engraving Quinn's name. She then brought it to Rogers, where Quinn could use it to practice. Even while undergoing chemotherapy, Quinn would practice at night with treats to ring the bell himself with his paw.
"(Cox) is now his official guardian angel," said Rogers, who had been waiting for this moment for a long time.
As Quinn entered a private dining room at the hospital Tuesday, the small, furry, ever-present beacon of comfort was greeted with the same warm smiles he had given to people he helped daily. But this time, it was Quinn's turn to be uplifted.
The town of Asheboro celebrates Quinn and all the hospital's therapy dogs. They are a beacon of comfort and support to staff and patients. (Randolph Health)
He walked straight to the bell and rang it triumphantly, like a true warrior fighting cancer. The emotional moment brought tears to everyone's eyes in the room.
Go, Quinn, go! (Randolph Health)
While it was indeed a magical day, the reality is that Rogers knows she will soon one day lose Quinn to cancer when it returns.
"The sad thing is, lymphoma is not curable. It's treatable, but it's not curable," she said. "So each day, I'm thankful he's still with me."