Cancer-battling teen gets emotional support pup: 'Happy face'

A West Bend teen got a needed boost Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Battling cancer for more than a year, Justin Sennott has been getting chemotherapy treatment at Children's Wisconsin since December 2019.

Sennott has had friends and family supporting him along the way. And he's needed some reasons to smile this year. The 17-year-old is battling high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"I woke up one morning and I couldn’t walk and we finally knew something was wrong," said Sennott.

Justin Sennott

Days can be rough, but he's persevered.

"He has just been strong and courageous," said Joanne Sennott, Justin's mom.

Justin Sennott

You might not be able to see it shining from under his mask, but Sennott was beaming Wednesday. His cancer journey got some extra comfort -- by way of an 8-week-old emotional support dog.

"He’ll always be there. He’ll always have a happy face and cheer me up," Justin said.

Yeli, Justin Sennott's emotional support puppy

"There’s an element of fear and the unknown when you have cancer, and I just feel like this dog is going to fill that void," said Joanne.

The mini doodle is named "Yeli" after Justin's personal hero, Brewers' star Christian Yelich.

"He is an inspiration to me to keep going and never back down," said Justin.

Justin Sennott and Yeli

It is that spirit that keeps Justin motivated and upbeat. Now, his family is inspired to give back. They're partnering with the breeder to help other children in similar situations.

"We want to be able to fund one to two children in need with a life-threatening illness," said Kelsey Hamachek with Dancing Mini Doodle.

Yeli is a little pup, proving more than its tiny stature to a teen who needed some extra love.

"As long as I’m living, I’m fine," said Justin.

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Justin is currently trying to get an autograph of his hero on a bandana for his new puppy.

The teen is expected to get his final cancer treatment in March of 2022.

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