One family from Swansea received news they never imagined they would hear.
Lily Bellamy, the 11-year-old sweet and bubbly youngest daughter of parents Wayne and Joanne from Llansamlet, was diagnosed with leukaemia and needed to go to hospital to begin her treatment.
Lily did not fully understand how her life would change following the cancer diagnosis and her father said her main worry in the car on her way to the hospital for the first time was whether she would be able to make any friends there. But, sadly, she would spend the following week undergoing treatment in an isolated room with her family.
Lily has undergone weekly chemotherapy and taken steroids in the two years since her diagnosis which have made her feel unwell and affected her mood, causing her to be more aggressive as she pushed those closest to her away. But, thankfully, a very special member of the family has brightened Lily’s days and helped the whole family get through such a difficult time. You can get more Swansea news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletters here.
Beauty the Labrador, who became the family pet just one month before Lily’s leukaemia diagnosis, quickly became Lily’s best friend and has proven herself to be a true hero in times of distress, once even saving Wayne’s life when the 53-year-old suffered from a seizure while out on a walk with Beauty as a pup.
On the emotional support Beauty offered her during her leukaemia treatment, Lily said: “I wasn’t able to see my friends or go anywhere so I had to stay at home all the time. I didn’t want to speak to anyone and I’d feel angry all of the time. But whenever I saw her she made me happy. When she walked into the room she’d always put a smile on my face.” Wayne explained that Lily’s medication changed her attitude and it was difficult for him and his wife to control their daughter and encourage her to complete daily tasks like taking her tablets.
But all Beauty would have to do was walk into the room and give Lily a nudge with her snout and she would happily go upstairs and take her medication without any hesitation, said Wayne.
When Lily began to lose hair as a result of chemotherapy, Beauty was someone she could relate to. “Because she moults, her hair was falling out at the same time.,” Lily explained. “So we were both losing hair together. Whenever I was brushing her it made me feel better because all of the hair that was coming out of her was the same amount coming out of me as well.”
The family said they were lucky to have Beauty by their side during Lily’s treatment, as they brought her home as a puppy just one month before Lily’s diagnosis. “Had we not had her at the time, we would have had to wait until the end of Lily’s treatment before we could introduce an animal into the house. So she came along at the perfect time,” said Wayne.
Lily’s treatment is still ongoing until October, but she is already feeling better and mixing with her friends more. Now able to go on school trips, which she was unable to join last year, Lily has been to London with her school and even took part in a Christmas pantomime at Swansea Grand Theatre in 2022 with her older sister Ruby, aged 14. On how Beauty had helped Wayne get through the past two years, he explained she had been a great help as his epilepsy, which he had lived with since the age of 12, had worsened partly due to the stress caused by Lily’s diagnosis.
While out alone on one of his first walks with Beauty as a puppy, Wayne fell into a deep pool of water in a flooded nature reserve. “I fell into a deep pool because the bank of the river had overflown. I went face down, smashed my glasses and cut my head. Beauty got into the water, burrowed down underneath me, and got me onto all fours. It kept me from drowning. She saved my life,” said Wayne.
This is not the only time the loyal Labrador has helped her owner. On many occasions, Wayne has had seizures while on walks locally and Beauty has stayed right by his side, even laying behind Wayne’s head to keep him from knocking it on the floor. “But the real special part is how much she helped during the very worst parts of Lily’s leukaemia, we can’t put it into words how much she helped.”