The trio of siblings developed a sense of humor watching “The Three Stooges,” and eventually adopted the name for themselves.
They loved their personalities and used jokes to help each other through their struggles, sister Nancy Cardwell said.
Now, Cardwell, who owns Furry Friends, a boarding and grooming business in New Whiteland, is the last remaining Stooge.
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Cardwell lost siblings Allen and Dominique Firebaugh to cancer in the span of nine months. Allen succumbed to pancreatic cancer in March 2017 at the age of 63. Dominique passed away in December at age 56 from bladder cancer, which also invaded his lungs, kidneys and lymph nodes.
She wants to remember her brothers for who they were. Allen, a talented guitar player who lived in St. Charles, Missouri, was happiest when on stage playing music either individually or in a band. She wants to remember the 5-foot-8-inch man who weighed 200 pounds before being diagnosed, not the 60-pound shell of himself when he passed away. Dominique spent six years as part of the Coast Guard where he learned to be a chef. He lived with Cardwell during the months cancer ravaged his body, going from 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds to only 40 pounds when he died.
Cardwell wants to honor their memory, along with the community for their support during some of her toughest times dealing with her brothers’ health struggles.
“The community has been so loyal and understanding,” Cardwell said. “Everyone kept coming to my shop and it was so heartfelt.”
“If there’s anything I can do to give back to the community, I will, because the community has been so wonderful throughout the last year with both my brothers being ill. I want to be able to help somebody.”
Cardwell is allowing pet owners who are being treated for cancer to board their animals and have them groomed for free.
The gesture is Cardwell’s way of honoring Allen and Dominique the best way she knows how.
“The pets usually get put on the back burner because of the emotions and everything that goes on when people have cancer,” Cardwell said. “Just watching my brothers deal with it, in their honor, if there’s one person I can help and alleviate at least some stress, that’s what I want to do.”
Cardwell opened Furry Friends in 2012, which has boarding space for up to 17 animals and also offers bathing and grooming services, ranging from $15 to $65. Those services will also be free for cancer patients.
Indianapolis resident Jill Raufeisen was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Raufeisen has family members in Franklin who take her animals to Furry Friends when she can’t.
“There have been times when I’ve been at the hospital and wasn’t even allowed to go home,” she said. “I live alone and these dogs are like my family, but with Nancy I don’t worry.”
“It’s been a big weight lifted off of me. It’s remarkable what she’s doing for the cancer community.”