Cancer Survivor Credits a Strong Bond with Animals for Saving His Life

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“Tears and Tales” is a collection of short stories about one man’s profound true-life encounters with animals, and the cathartic way they have enriched his life.

Many people go untouched and unaware of the deep and powerful bond between humans and animals. The incredible gift of animals runs deep, and one only need open their heart to this possibility to fully experience the great rewards of the human-animal connection.

In 1998, Russell Vassallo heard the news no one wants to hear - cancer. Finding himself sitting through hour-long chemotherapy sessions, unproductive and depressed, Vassallo reflected back on the beloved animals that helped him through other difficult times. He began compiling the stories that would later become “Tears and Tales: Stories of Animal and Human Rescue” (ISBN 0977673901). Writing gave Vassallo a sense of purpose, and telling them brightened the spirits of many other patients fearful of their uncertain future.

Vassallo believes that animals have a way of connecting with us if we just listen. His personal stories express in unwavering honesty the impact animals have made in his life. Through his struggles and joys, Vassallo tell us how his relationship with animals taught him about life, even through the most difficult circumstances. “Animals teach us if we are willing to learn,” explains Vassallo. “Their message is of unadulterated love without conditions. Animals accept us as we are, even when we struggle to accept ourselves.”

A life without animals is unimaginable to Vassallo. He recollects stories like that of Nikki, his dog who died the very day he had cancer surgery, and the anger he felt because he could not say goodbye. The unbelievable and inspiring story of the cardinal who came through his window daily and helped nurse Vassallo back to health after his cancer, and the tale of a drunken duck who transforms an immature boy into an independent man.

“Tears and Tales” is about life, faith and restoring hope. It's about the dreams of every man and woman who need to love and be loved. It’s about not letting go, and sometimes having to let go. It is about rising up from the depths of sorrow, and achieving a fully realized human experience. “Tears and Tales” will make readers laugh and cry, and ultimately open to their own emotions and vulnerabilities. Vassallo’s life experience has been enriched through his unparalleled companionship with animals. As his unforgettable book suggests, this man truly has been rescued by animals.

Russell Vassallo resides with wife Virginia, and their many animal friends at Winter Hills Farm in south-central Kentucky. In 1961, Vassallo received his degree in Political Science and Literature from Seton Hall University, and in 1971 became licensed to practice law. In 1990 he retired from law and began his writing pursuits. A recent cancer survivor, Vassallo hopes his survival will inspire others to win their battles with this illness. “Tears and Tales: Stories of Animal and Human Rescue” (ISBN 0977673901) can be purchased at online bookstores. For more information, visit


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