Hodgkins Lymphoma Awareness

My Journey Battling Cancer & Graft vs. Host Disease
Fighting for my life each day against the odds


Willa, my baby forever. I adopted Willa a couple months after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Willa is a purebred vietnamese potbellied pig. My first pet. Oh what a companion she was! After chemo treatments I would crash when I arrived home and she would crawl on top of me and we'd snooze.  She was such a cuddlebug with her Momma. Willa and I spent many days and nights together. She gave me many laughs, some cries, and challenges. Such an amazing animal. Pigs are the fourth on the intelligence chain. Yes, they are smarter than dogs!  Oh and they don't sweat (they don't have sweat glands) that is why they get in the mud to cool off.  They are exceptionally clean. It all depends on what kind of environment you let them live in.  Willa didn't stink either. She has hair and no oil glands. She could get wet and she just smelled like Willa, my sweet baby.  She was litterbox trained the second day I had her.  She then was trained to walk with her harness and lead. Next came sit and stay and circles and come.  If you whispered the words, 'cookie', 'treat', 'eat', she would be at your side in a heart beat sitting looking up at you with her big brown eyes.

I was a proud Momma and I have the pictures and video to prove it.  She loved getting her picture taken. She was such a ham. Unfortunately, Willa had some upsets that couldn't have been prevented. She didn't get to see her Momma for a whole month in the beginning of 2006 while I was in the hospital for my first stem cell transplant. Then I had to move back with my parents in July, leaving Willa with my ex.  Willa became a loner. She went from 24/7 attention with me to hardly any. I would go over as much as I could to visit Willa and take her outside.  I noticed a change in her attitude.  She didn't seem as affectionate.  The year of 2006 I was still getting treatments and still trying to make my marriage work. My ex just kept telling me it was over.  I didn't understand. I didn't want to just "give up" on a marriage.  One in which both of us took vows; 'in sickness and in health.' As the year progressed, my poor little Willa became depressed.  I wanted to bring her to my parents to stay, but we were traveling back and forth to Boston so much we couldn't leave her alone.  November 2006 I had my donor stem cell transplant.  Right before I left for Boston, I spent  a whole entire afternoon with Willa.  I always would talk to her. I explained what I was getting ready to do since it would be another whole month away from her.  Willa spent Christmas with us and enjoyed it fully.  I started feeling a little better in the spring of 2007 and decided that I was ready to get Willa. My parents had never had a pet in the house, let alone a pig!  (I told you my family rocks!) Willa moved in and she let us know that she was the princess!!  As I said, pigs are very intelligent. They have the mind of a three year old toddler.  Pigs are herd animals and they are constantly trying to become "top pig."  So Willa's herd consisted of me, my dad and mother. Willa always tested Grandma because Mom wasn't too sure of her. Testing by charging. Pigs charge by tilting their head to the side and opening their mouth and lunging at another. They do this to see if you back away. If you don't challenge them, they will think they are the leader and start doing whatever they want.  Consistency and training are very important. Pigs are a lot of work.  Unfortunately, I became sicker last year and my ability to take care of Willa declined.  I spoke with my breeder, Kathleen, who is absolutely wonderful. I love you Kathleen. She told me that Willa could sense I was sick and it frustrated her and she knew that she was stronger than me.  I never ever wanted to give Willa away. She was/is my baby forever.  I thought about it for months literally.  I didn't want to just post her for sale in the local paper or whatever.  I had to find a safe home. A loving family.

My prayer was answered and my friend knew of someone that knew someone that had always wanted a potbellied pig. Willa left last September and lives comfortably inside and has a great yard to roam around during the day. I think about Willa every single day. I speak of her all the time too. I wish I could have her with me now. I cry and laugh when I think of her. She was my little angel in disguise. She will always be in my heart. I love you Willa. Please remember your Momma.

My Baby Willa

Taken from a journal entry: Posted on Monday, Sep 17, 2007, 06:38 PM

Willa just left. I sit here empty. No emotions. I can't cry tears, but I can't even express how I feel.  I know this was the right decision. It just isn't one that I wanted to make. Willa was my companion.  My little angel in disguise.  My "fierce protector."  She is now with a loving family who lives 45 minutes away. I couldn't have asked for a better environment for Willa. They have a farm with chickens, geese, two dogs, a cat, bunnies and now Willa.  Willa will live indoors with them.  They have two daughters, one who is 15 years old and belongs to 4H Club. The other daughter wants to be a cosmetologist.  The man and woman came over around 5 PM and immediately I was comfortable with both of them.  They talked about their love for animals and how they always wanted a potbellied pig.  I have been deciding on trying to find a home for Willa for so long now that this just felt right even though it doesn't feel good to have to give up yet another thing in my life.  I just don't understand why I can't get a break.  No breaks.  Is this a true test from God?  Shouldn't my test have ended a long time ago?  Like, maybe after the first stem cell transplant?  Or maybe after the second stem cell transplant?  Or how about when I found out my estranged husband closed out all of our joint accounts on me?  I don't know.  I'm exhausted and weak and tired and sad.  Tomorrow I have to get up really early to go to Boston for my check-up to be reevaluated and to see the opthalmologist for my eyes.  I hope I don't have to be admitted again.  I'm not packing a bag so I'm not going to jinx myself.  If I get admitted I probably won't have access to the internet again!!  But I'm counting on coming back home.

Tired, weak, sad, ........