In 2013, Marika Meeks, a busy and 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 and eager to live her life, she couldn't move past her fear and isolation. She met a pit bull puppy who gave her a life purpose and shares her inspiring story of hope and second chances in her new book: Incredibull Stella: How the Love of a Pit Bull Rescued a Family, published by Kensington. More info and events: https://www.incredibullstella.com/ Follow @incredibullstella on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube Twitter.
Focused on simply surviving cancer, Marika had forgotten how to live. One day she met a little dog, Sweetie Pie, who ran up to her to give her a hug. It pressed its head against her chest, becoming completely still and in that moment, Marika felt a shift in energy and a warmth that pierced her heart and penetrated deep into her soul. Marika had never been a "dog person," but now it seemed like the universe was telling her to adopt a dog.
There was a challenge to overcome. Her husband had a request before they were married and that was to have no dogs. When she shared her experience with Sweetie Pie, he and her daughters were all on board. 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 in the winter, 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 and her family.
The first morning with Stella changed Marika and her relationship with her youngest daughter who due to the stress and anxiety of her mom’s illness, was on the brink of suicide. Stella was the bridge that brought them back together, rebuilding their bond. "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 two daughters, having dedicated my life to sharing my challenge for others to have hope and educating people on the powerful force that pets can play in our lives while also encouraging people to rescue, foster, spay/neuter, and adopt animals like Stella."
The power that pets have on our well-being is undeniable. 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. People around the world follow Stella and Marika's dog rescue adventures on social media. Marika & Stella’s story on The Dodo now has more than 15M views: http://bit.ly/StellaTheDodo and over 80k followers on @incredibullstella Instagram.
Marika shares her story to reach out to others going through challenges of any kind, that there is hope and a second chance to really live your life.