SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Scottsdale mom who beat breast cancer says her rescue puppy helped her through it all.
In 2013, Marika Meeks, a busy, active entrepreneur, wife, and mother of two daughters, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 41.
Grateful to have survived the debilitating treatment, she was eager to live her life, yet she felt stuck.
Then she met a pit bull puppy who gave her life meaning and purpose.
She made her story into a book called Incredibull Stella: How the Love of a Pit Bull Rescued a Family.
Focused on simply surviving cancer, Marika had forgotten how to live. One day she met a little dog who ran up to her to give her a hug and it pressed its head against her chest, becoming completely still.
Marika had never been a "dog person," but now it seemed like the universe was telling her to adopt a dog.
Following that sign, Marika reached out to a local Indiana dog rescue and on her first visit, met Stella, a beautiful little seven-month-old caramel-and-white pit bull puppy.
This little pup had faced challenges of her own, being abandoned with her sister in a rural Indiana field, left to die. Marika could relate to the fear and intuitively knew they met each other at precisely the right moment. On that day, February 13, 2016, Stella found her fur-ever family, inspiring a life-changing journey for Marika.
"I went from being totally shipwrecked in a post-cancer sea of fear, worry, anxiety, and guilt, to understanding that my journey is about so much more than my efforts to stay alive. It is all about how to live while you are still alive,” states Marika. “Now I'm cancer-free and living my best life with a renewed purpose and connection to my husband and daughters, having dedicated my life to educating people on the powerful force that pets can play in our lives while also encouraging people to rescue, foster, and adopt animals like Stella."
The Incredibull Stella mission was created to advocate for pit bull breed awareness, support rescue and adoption shelters, prompt spay and neuter initiatives, and rescue and foster puppies and adult dogs until a "forever family" can be found.
In January 2017, Marika launched Stella's Instagram page. Stella's natural beauty and her loving, playful nature quickly captured the hearts of Instagram fans, and within nine months, Stella had more than 25,000 followers.
Today, approximately 75,000 people around the world follow Stella and Marika's dog rescue adventures on social media.