Bunnies and Cancer with EVY MICHALOPOULOS

Evy has been instrumental in helping humans and their friends or family to cope through the process of cancer.  Evy also has bunnies of her own and they are Mascots to her project, the Machi Filotimo Cancer Project.

We wanted to have a moment and learn more about her journey and wisdom.

What has your involvement with cancer awareness taught you?

  • It has taught me how important early detection is to your health and the health of our fur babies, our bunny rabbits.
  • Prior to starting my Cancer Project, the Machi Filotimo Cancer Project, which I started in Memory of my Late Mom, when she passed away within six weeks after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer, I had no idea how Cancer, in todays’ day and age, affects so many people, both young and old.  I always heard of someone having Cancer, but I never understood, or educated myself or studied up on the facts surrounding Cancer and its causes and what you should look out for, the signs, the symptoms, the treatment that’s available.
  • I only learnt all of this during and after my journey with my late Mother, and in order to honour her memory and through this project, we aim at Creating Awareness, Educating about Cancer and Helping Cancer Patients and their families through these difficult times.
  • We have partnered with amazing institutions like CANSA, Cancer Alliance, Hospice Wits, the Breast Wellness Centre and Cupcakes of Hope, to name but a few, and together we educate and help all those affected by Cancer.
  • The biggest lesson I learnt is not to let your FEAR control you.  Look fear in the face and tell yourself “you got this” and challenge yourself to overcome whatever it is that’s making you fear a situation.  I KNOW Tough and I never give up!

 

What has your bunnies taught you?

  • About 20 years ago, my late mom and I bought our first pet together, which was a bunny called Ruby.  She loved this bunny dearly and had it with her every day at home and at work in the family Supermarkets for about five years.  Ruby was a domestic in-house bunny.
  • Subsequent to my mom’s passing on 4th February 2018, I decided to get another baby bunny called Skouliki towards the end of 2018.  Skouliki gave me such comfort during those very difficult days when I was grieving the loss of my mom and missing her terribly, that in some special way, I believe that my mom’s spirit was one with Skouliki.
  • However, very sadly Skouliki passed away in May 2019 after she was spayed, to prevent her from developing Uterine Cancer, due to kidney issues possibly caused by a parasite called E-Cuniculi (known as EC).
  • This broke my heart once again terribly, but through the loss of Skouliki, I met amazing people from bunny rescues, Anabel from Bunny Tales Rescue, Meahni from Berario Bunnies and Jenny from Strawberry Foundation and this opened my eyes to all these incredible bunny rescues that I was not aware of before.
  • I have subsequently adopted from Bunny Tales Rescue, as I could not resist these cute bunnies, which are the two bunnies on the bottom of the page, Meli and panda, the projects official mascots.
  • I have learnt a great deal more about the health of rabbits through the assistance of the Bryanston Avian Exotic Small Animal Clinic known as BAESAC and how they too are very prone to developing Cancer.  This then made me realize that there was a link needed to my main project.
  • Seeing how these Bunny Rescues all try to assist and save bunnies (whether they are ferrets in the wild or rescued by the institutions) by having them neutered, spayed and re-homed, is amazing and I know the costs of their vet bills in respect of doing this good deed, is expensive.
  • It is for this reason that I want to be able to contribute towards these Rescues Vet bills and more, when possible, through the project.  We have raised funds and donated towards these Rescues and will continue to support their amazing work and huge hearts to save bunnies everywhere!
  • Biggest Lesson – once you Love a Bunny, you can never stop!  They hop into your life and win your heart with their binkies, nose bumps and bunny 500’s.  You become a Bun Mom instantly and forever!

 

What similarities do you experience in dealing with cancer and bunny awareness?

  • A cancer diagnosis in humans can affect the emotional health of patients, families and caregivers.  Common feelings during this life-changing experience include anxiety, distress, and depression.  Roles at home, school, and work can be affected.  It’s important to recognize these changes and get help when needed.
  • Just like humans, Cancer Tumours exist in Bunnies too.  A tumour is a growth or mass that develops in or on a rabbit. Tumours are a collection of cells that grow abnormally and create a lump.  Sometimes these lumps contain fluid, fat, cancer cells, blood, and other things but they are not always bad.  Some tumours can be benign and not spread while others are malignant and do spread to other parts of the body.
  • Therefore Bunnies are very prone to developing Cancer too.  Uterine adenocarcinoma is a malignant Cancer of the uterus and is the most common type of cancer seen in rabbits.  Uterine cancer occurs in up to 60% of females that are greater than three years old.
  • Mammary cancer or mastitis is often found in rabbits with uterine cancer.  Other types of cancers that rabbits are prone to are, Bladder and Pancreatic Cancer.
  • The similarities in dealing with Cancer and Bunny awareness are almost the same.  The more information you have on hand, the better decisions you can make, which leads to better choices available to you.  Once again it all adds back to being aware, to signs and the symptoms in both humans and bunnies.  Just like we promote the importance of “knowledge is power” and early detection, please always make yourself aware of your health and the health of your bunnies.  Both come with symptoms which one must always look out for.  Both need education, so please seek medical help or assistance if you are unsure of anything that doesn’t seem normal.
  • We usually say “you know your body” so only you know when something seems off.  Please also use this analogy when it comes to your fur babies, you know them better than anyone else, so you will know when they not acting their normal cute selves.
  • And lastly, keep educating yourself on your health, and that of your bunnies.  There are so many institutions that can assist with education, not only for yourself, but especially for your bunnies.  Join these groups and interact to help grow awareness.

How do pets help with the journey in cancer?

  • There’s a saying:- “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. – Martin Buber” and this is so very true.  Although all our fur babies have no voice, they speak through their eyes and their spirit shines from the little things they do that make us smile and love them even more.
  • Pets provide the following benefits to those going through cancer treatment:-
    • Easing their anxiety and elevating their mood;
    • Offering company and comfort, thereby lessening feelings of isolation or loneliness;
    • Providing a distraction from pain, stress or boredom;
    • Relaxing them, especially since petting or snuggling with a soft, friendly animal can release endorphins that have a calming effect.
  • Pets have a healing power that we cannot explain, the impact that animals have on recovery is nothing short of miraculous.  Let’s face it, our fur babies keep us healthy and sane and those of us who’ve routinely shared our homes with our fur babies don’t need scientific data to prove that the animals we invite into our lives occupy a special place in our hearts forever!

 

How can people get involved in your organisation?

  • The Machi Filotimo Cancer Project is a non-profit company registered in 2019 with Registration Number: 2019/338757/08 and NPO Number: 233-525 and our goal is to raise awareness for people diagnosed with cancer.
  • I am very blessed to announce that our organisation will be turning ONE on the 29th August 2020 and in our first year we have a growing family of 155 Partners, Institutions and Companies that have joined our Cause in support of Cancer Awareness.
  • The Machi Filotimo Cancer Project is also part of the BackaBuddy campaign.  Temotio Jacopo, known to us as Timo, is the Brand Ambassador for the Machi Filotimo Cancer Project and runs Marathons in aid of raising funds for Cancer and our Cause.   If you would like to donate to this special project, see the link to our BackaBuddy campaign page https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/run-4-cancer
  • In association with our amazing Family of Partners, we have created our very own online store where a percentage of all profits are donated to our project and all proceeds from the sales of products on our website go towards our fundraising and are not for profit.  Funds raised are utilised to support Cancer patients and our Bunny Rescues through our various projects and initiatives with our Partnered Institutions.
  • We welcome anyone that has an interest in supporting cancer education to join our Family of Partners.  You can email me on evy@filotimo.org.za our have a look at our website for more information on our project www.filotimo.org.za

 

I would like to thank Yolandi from Virtual Bunny Club for giving me this opportunity to share my story with our Filotimo Bunny Mascots.

EVY MICHALOPOULOS

FOUNDER & CEO

Machi Filotimo Cancer Project

YOURS IN HOPE

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