Woman’s dying wish to pet a horse comes true

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KENTWOOD, Mich. -- Phyllis Ryerson came true: she's battling cancer and all she wanted was to pet a horse.

Phyllis, 87, grew up loving horses. When she married her husband and moved to a farm, that's when life really began, she says. It's the simple things in life that make her feel alive, and for her it's horses.

She was recently diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer and is now living day-to-day with the help of Emmanuel Hospice.

"Our theory is not so much the dying process but it's, How do you want to live?'" said Dana Rittenberg, an registered nurse case manager at the hospice center.

When Rittenberg asked Phyllis what could be one to make her more comfortable at this stage in life, her request was to simply pet a horse.

So Phyllis was taken to the Equine Assisted Development of the Great Lakes in Kentwood, and she was given time to pet, brush and love each horse in the barn.

"I would be terribly disappointed if I hadn't been able to come," said Ryerson.

Another wish coming true for Ryerson: tickets to see "The Sound of Music" in downtown Grand Rapids.

Grateful for the experiences, she thanked everyone involved in making her dreams come true.

"It's a very comforting thing to know that I'm at the end of a long and wonderful life," said Ryerson.

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