ST. LOUIS – September is childhood cancer awareness month. One young woman’s rare cancer is in remission and part of the reason a special friend was by her side.

A physician from Siteman Cancer Center Dr. Megha Malhotra said the teen, Margaret Jacquay had a rare aggressive form of lymphoma.

“Margaret had a type of lymphoma which is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” Malhotra said. “In America, the incidences are about 800 new cases a year in the childhood population. It’s a rare aggressive cancer and the treatment is two and a half years of chemotherapy.”

Malhotra who is Margaret’s physician informed her in 2019 that she is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as T-lymphoblastic lymphoma.

Around this time, the Jacquay’s family agreed to watch a dog named Maddie while its owners, a fellow U.S. Army were sent to Korea.

“I just saw the dog as more work for me because we were already doing a lot,” said Seth Jacquay, Margaret’s father. “But it did have a humongous impact on Margaret. It gave her a reason to get up every day.”

Margaret said having the dog in her home inspires “her to get out of bed.”

“It really did get me out of my bed in the morning,” said Margaret. “I would wake up when my dad would be like, ‘It’s time to take pills and keep some fluids in you.’ I’d remember, ‘There’s a dog in the house.’ And I’d actually have something that I would want to get up and go do.”

“She loves the dog so much it would just give her purpose,” says Seth Jacquay. “Before the dog, she would sleep all day. But it gave her reason to get out of bed. When the dog is in the house, every day she’d get up earlier. She’d walk out and interact with the dog and laugh with the dog and smile more. It was pretty transformative.”

Margaret was a senior at a performing arts school when she was diagnosed with cancer. She had faced two and a half years of chemotherapy during COVID-19.

“The part that really brings kids through that contributes to their resilience, how well they cope with everything of their disease,” Malhorta said. “The hospitalizations is really been the best of their support system. That can include many different things and in Margaret’s case, her dog.”

Margaret has since adopted Maddie, after the couple that owned the dog returned and saw the results of the bonding experience between the two.

“To see her do these funny things that are completely out of the blue when I’m stressed, it really lightens the mood,” Margaret said. “Makes me take a step back and think of my perspective now, how far I’ve come. From being so sick to being able to kind of have the privilege to worry about things that I wasn’t even able to be involved in before.”