ALLEN (CBSDFW.COM) – Kyle Murray, 10, is battling for his life. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer when he was three years old.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation bought him some time, but not enough. The cancer returned in July.
“They re-diagnosed him with a second form of brain cancer,” says his mother, Elizabeth Murray. “It’s called anaplastic astrocytoma. It is a result of the radiation from the first treatment.”
Medical know-how offers little hope at this point. Thus, the Murrays are relying on faith.
“Every day he prays fervently that the cancer goes away, and he even apologizes to me that he needs so much help, “ says Murray, her eyes filling with tears and her voice cracking. “I tell him that’s why God made Mamas so they could get up and help and do whatever you need if you’re sick, and it’ll be okay.”
The family — including father, Chad and brother Campbell — have learned to greet each day as a gift. And it’s one that they fill with joy, grace, and now Gracey — a 60 lb giant schnauzer that will be trained as a multiple need service dog.
“Every minute, I want him to be incredibly happy,” says Murray, “and I think Gracey will bring that. He loves animals and any time he’s around them they just bring him so much comfort.”
Kyle met Gracey for the first time Wednesday. His first words to the energetic black dog were “I love you.”
Murray says she tried for months to get a service animal for Kyle. But, she soon learned that the demand for the specialized animals far outweighs the availability, and there were none that met Kyle’s unique needs as a cancer patient.
After reaching out to friends, Murray heard about The Butler Family Foundation. The organization trains service animals and helps provide them to families on a sliding scale fee basis. Service animals can cost as much as $30,000. The Murrays are helping to pay their portion of the fee with a crowd funding effort.
Hilton Butler, Gracey’s trainer, says the organization is breaking new ground with the effort to help Kyle. “There are no multipurpose service dogs out there,” says Butler. “We’re actually going to work with the family to customize Gracey to Kyle’s needs.”
Unlike most service animals, Gracey will eventually meet multiple needs for Kyle: retrieving items, turning on lights, and especially mobility.
“He’ll be able to use her as his walker,” says Butler. “She’ll be able to help him get up and sit down and he’ll be able to put part of his body weight on her to help stabilize him.”
The cancer has already taken so much. It has affected Kyle’s vision and speech. With Kyle’s days uncertain, his Mom says that they have learned to savor the moments. And there are few sweeter than the sight of a boy, with his arms wrapped around his dog.
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