I just came across the story of Freedom, a bald eagle, and Jeff, a cancer survivor. I checked it out on Snopes because it’s the kind of thing that is so fantastic it might be the stuff of urban legend — but it’s not myth, it’s true — the story of an extraordinary friendship between a cancer survivor and an injured bald eagle. Enjoy (it’s written like a poem, and is in fact poetic in the best sense of that word):

Freedom And Jeff

And I have been together 10 years this summer.
She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken
Wings. Her left wing doesn’t open all the way
Even after surgery, it was broken in 4
Places. She’s my

Freedom came in she could not stand
And both wings were broken. She was
Emaciated and covered in lice. We made the
Decision to give her a chance at life, so I took
Her to the vets office. From then
On, I was always around her. We had her in a
Huge dog carrier with the top off, and it
Was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to
Lay in. I used to sit and talk to her,
Urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay
There looking at me with those big brown eyes.
We also had to tube feed her for

Went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still
Couldn’t stand. It got to the point where the
Decision was made to euthanize her if she
Couldn’t stand in a week. You know you don’t
Want to cross that line between torture and
Rehab, and it looked like death was
Winning. She was going to be put
Down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in
On that Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to go
To the center that Thursday, because I couldn’t
Bear the thought of her being euthanized;
But I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone
Was grinning from ear to ear. I went
Immediately back to her cage; and there she was,
Standing on her own, a big beautiful
Eagle. She was ready to live. I was
Just about in tears by then. That
Was a very good day.

Knew she could never fly, so the director
Asked me to glove train her. I got her used to
The glove, and then to jesses, and we
Started doing education programs for schools in
Western Washington
. We wound up in the newspapers,
Radio (believe it or not) and some
TV. Miracle Pets even did a show
About us.

The spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had stage 3,
Which is not good (one major organ plus
Everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of
Chemo. Lost the hair – the whole
Bit. I missed a lot of work. When I
Felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey ;
And take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would
Also come to me in my dreams and help me fight
The cancer. This happened time and time

Forward to November 2000, the day after
Thanksgiving. I went in for my last
Checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not
All gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last
Option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they
Did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for
The results. I went in Monday, and I was
Told that all the cancer was

The first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and
Take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty
And cold. I went to her flight and jessed her
Up, and we went out front to the top of the
Hill. I hadn’t said a word to
Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me
And wrapped both her wings around me to where I
Could feel them pressing in on my back
(I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she
Touched my nose with her beak and stared into my
Eyes, and we just stood there like
For I don’t know how long. That was a
Magic moment. We have been soul mates ever
Since she came in. This is a very special

I never forget the honor I have of being so close
To such a magnificent spirit as

You enjoy this.


Note: Jeff is Jeff Guidry, a member of the educational team at the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Everett, Washington. Additional photos of Freedom and Jeff can be viewed here.


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