ALBANY, Ore. — An Albany woman says she's alive today because her cat helped her detect a lump in her breast.
“She's definitely just my angel now,” Michelle Pierson said of her cat MIa.
Michelle and her husband Will adopted Mia from the Willamette Humane Society in 2017. Besides being a loving pet, Mia has provided a form of therapy for Michelle as she battles breast cancer.
“I am in the middle of the fight at this point,” said 48-year-old Michelle.
A fight she believes she might have lost by now, had Mia not done what she did back in June:
“My husband and I were lying in bed watching TV, when out of nowhere, Mia got up on my chest, sniffed my right breast and looked in my face,” said Michelle. “She sniffed the spot again and looked at my face and I tried to shove her off. She came back up and just laid down on that right breast and looked at me like, ‘I'm trying to tell you something.’”
“I was there,” vouched Will. “I felt the lump and said, 'Yeah, you should probably go in.'”
Days later, Michelle got the news from her doctor.
“You get that call of "you have cancer.’ What?! No one in my family has cancer," she recalled.
For Michelle, it was Stage 2 breast cancer and the start of a long road of treatment and recovery.
“Because we caught this early, my prognosis is much better,” said Michelle.
“We've always loved the cat,” said Will. “But now the cat gets anything it wants, whenever it wants, as much as it wants.”
Medical reports show specially trained dogs have detected cancer in humans. Mia the cat, has no such training.
“People kind of look at me like, ‘I've never heard of that, you're crazy,’” chuckled Michelle.
Will believes that’s beside the point.
“No matter if it's proven or not, it happened,” said Will. “Whether or not the cat really did see something, it caused Michelle to feel there, so in my mind, the cat saved her life.”
Michelle joked that what she got was a different kind of "cat scan" or maybe a "Mia gram.” Joking aside, she hopes her story does two things: motivates women to get yearly mammograms, and inspires people to adopt rescue animals.
“I tell people, maybe I rescued Mia,” said Michelle. "But she rescued me right back.”