A young woman was devastated to be diagnosed with skin cancer just one year after battling an advanced form of sarcoma.
Hannah Russell, 25, underwent six operations and countless rounds of radiotherapy over a two-year period in a bid to beat stage three sarcoma followed by melanoma 12 months later.
The first sign of sarcoma, which is cancer of the soft tissue anywhere in the body, is typically a painless lump beneath the skin.
Other symptoms are vague and easily confused with everyday complaints like indigestion, stress and generalised fatigue, which often leads to considerable delays in diagnosis. They also vary depending on where the cancer grows.
Craving comfort after her gruelling ordeal, Hannah found solace in an unlikely place: “therapy” sheep worth £14,000.
She already owned many animals including horses and dogs, but had always wanted her own flock of sheep.
So, in April 2021, she started browsing online for therapy animals to help lift her spirits.
Hannah came across Black Valais Sheep - which can sell for up to £7,000 each - and decided they’d make a great addition to her animal kingdom.
After doing some research, Hannah purchased Izzy and Ida from a local sheep breeder - and has since struck up a loving bond with the pair.
She now trains them to do jumps and tricks by using treats, sharing videos on her popular online blog ‘Hannah Little Alf and Friends’.
Hannah, an author from Macham, north Yorkshire, said: “I was feeling really down inbetween operations and the idea of sheep really appealed to me.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own my own flock and it felt like the right time as I was taking a lot of time off work because of my illness.
“I bought them for a couple grand each so got a decent deal. They are so cute and make a wonderful addition to the family.
“When I started to recover I began training them to do jumps and tricks.
“I train them like dogs using treats and they absolutely love it - they have such a cheeky, loving nature.
“I post daily videos of them online and one of them has gone viral and reached 72 million views which is just crazy.
“They really gave me a new focus when I needed one the most, and I can’t imagine having coped with my illness without them.”
Hannah entered remission last month and is now looking forward to a bright future with Izzy and Ida by her side.