Learning about the healing power of dolphins started when I was in the hospital. Some nurses and doctors joked that one of the side effects I had from chemotherapy was laughter. I was able to see the positive in everything and was constantly giggling. I earned the nickname Pollyanna because of this. One day my mom and I were laughing while I was getting my chemo, and one of my doctors happened to walk by. He said laughter is the best medicine because each time you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which help the body heal. Mom and I shortened endorphins to “dolphins,” because it was a lot easier and just more fun to say, and I believed dolphins truly do have a healing power.
During those early days, my mom would give me “dolphins” to cheer me up, and occasionally when I saw her getting tired, I would give her one or two. Over the years, I have shared the need for “dolphins” with other newly diagnosed friends in the hope they will find a way to create their own healing endorphins.
Dolphins are my symbol of hope and survival. I have a necklace with two charms, one with two dolphins and another with a dolphin fluke (tail). The two dolphins—one silver and one gold—represent the two lives I have lived, one before cancer and the one I live now after cancer. I am a forever-changed person because of my experience. The dolphin fluke reminds me of the time I spent working with dolphins and how special they are. It’s a replica of Pandora’s tail, the dolphin I felt the strongest connection with.
During my senior year of college, I was an intern at the Dolphin Research Center (DRC) in the Florida Keys. It was there I realized I really did have a connection with a dolphin. My supervisor told me a story of how Pandora, a five-year-old dolphin, picked me. When my supervisor was deciding on interns, she would go down to the lagoons and show the dolphins the applications. On that day, Pandora was the only dolphin interested in the applications. My supervisor flipped through each page so Pandora could look at them. Pandora looked at all of them and then touched mine. Pandora picked me! My first interaction with her, and I wasn’t even there. When I got to DRC, Pandora was the first dolphin to interact with me. She tossed seaweed at me, in hopes I would toss it back and play with her. Every day during my internship, I got “dolphins” from watching the dolphins play.
Remember to laugh, releasing your “dolphins” every day. Some days will be better than others, but always remember the healing power of dolphins.