Meet Smilow the dog as the cancer hospital celebrates tenth anniversary

Connecticut Families

IVORYTON, Conn. (WTNH) — He has tons of energy, even though his white nose hints at his age.

“He’s getting older,” says Brooke Adamson as she looks at her golden dog. Years ago, this dog was a light during a very dark time.

“He started to have symptoms, you know, odd symptoms,” says Adamson, of her husband, Phil Schaller.

Out of the blue, this healthy man, who ate well and rode his bike, got devastating news.

“He was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma which is a rare cancer,” explains Adamson. “It has a low survival rate, so we went into panic mode. We had two little kids.”

During treatment, Schaller and Adamson had an idea and headed to a dog adoption event. Immediately they were drawn to a little blonde rescue.

“We were under so much stress at home and I thought this little guy needs us as much as we need him. I gave the green light and we brought him home,” remembers Adamson.

But, what would they call their new pet? That’s when this sweet story takes a poignant turn.

“My parents decided it should be Smilow because it’s a powerful word,” says 14 year old Siena.

Yes, Smilow is named for the place where Schaller received care. The Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven is celebrating its tenth anniversary. “We felt like we were in the best place possible,” says Adamson.

And, Smilow the Dog just turned a decade old, too. Phil is now in remission – free of bile duct cancer – but the family remains active in the cause.

“We do a hike every year and we’ve raised money for Yale New Haven Hospital as well as the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation,” says Adamson.

The Adamson-Schallers say getting Smilow was the best decision they ever made. “He’s very funny and he’s like very cuddly,” says Siena.

A soft, sweet boy with a name that’s a fitting reminder of bravery, companionship and hope.

“It’s apparent that it’s the cancer hospital and it’s perfect for him,” says Adamson. “It’s the perfect name and the perfect honor, for sure.”

In the last ten years, Smilow Cancer Hospital has become the state’s largest provider of cancer care.

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