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How Oma's Dolphin Program Changes Cancer Patients' Lives

October 04, 2022 / dolphins,


Breast cancer is a physically and emotionally devastating disease. It's the most common form of cancer among women in the United States, with nearly 290,000 expected to be diagnosed in 2022 alone. Patients endure a variety of painful or stress-inducing symptoms, as well as invasive treatments and procedures that have a lasting impact on their daily lives.

At Dolphins Plus, we are well aware of the prevalence of breast cancer and the myriad of ways in which it affects millions of women every day. We hope to draw attention to this issue while also helping patients find a much-needed source of emotional relief. Below, we highlight our work in this important area, including the ongoing benefits of Oma's Dolphin Program.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, an international campaign strives to draw attention to the outsized impact that breast cancer has on women all around the world. Known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this is a time for reflecting on the untimely loss of loved ones to a truly devastating disease. This is also a great opportunity to show support for current patients — and to encourage women to schedule preventative measures such as mammograms.

A variety of organizations take part in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This includes not only major charities such as Susan G. Komen, but also smaller businesses such as Dolphins Plus. We strongly believe that our team of kindhearted humans and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins can bring the gift of healing to inspiring cancer patients — and that these patients, in turn, have much to teach us.

The Story of Oma

Far too many people have lost their mothers, sisters, partners, and grandmas (or omas) to breast cancer. Oma's Dolphin Program from Dolphins Plus pays homage to a remarkable woman who was lovingly referred to as Oma: the amazing Anne Marie Borguss.

A founding member of Dolphins Plus, Anne Marie — or Oma — greeted every guest with a warm, loving smile. She had a knack for getting loved ones and new friends alike to laugh. Everybody she met commented on her zest for life — and her eagerness to share her passion.

Oma was especially passionate about dolphins. Her family founded Dolphins Plus in 1979, after years of working closely with dolphins all around the world. In the early days of Dolphins Plus, she could most frequently be found interacting with dolphin enthusiasts in the gift shop. Still, she loved to spend time with her dolphin friends. She was content to gaze at them and have long conversations. They were a valuable source of tranquility, especially through the most challenging moments.

After a lifetime of love, Oma was diagnosed with breast cancer. For six years, she fought valiantly — but throughout this ordeal, her spirit continued to shine bright. She remained as determined as ever to spread positive vibes, as evidenced by the Halloween costume she wore in hopes of cheering up patients in the chemo lab. Sadly, Oma lost her battle with cancer in 2009. We miss her every day but are also grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with this extraordinary woman.

To honor the ultimate role model, we launched Oma's Dolphin Program. We believe that Oma's tenacity and sunny personality lives on through this extraordinary program, which brings smiles to the faces of cancer patients from all walks of life as they meet dolphins.

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What Is Oma's Dolphin Program?

The premise behind Oma's Dolphin Program is simple: harness the wonder and amazement of dolphins to bring emotional and spiritual benefits to cancer patients. Through this program, participants diagnosed with cancer are able to enjoy dolphin encounters at Dolphins Plus free of charge. The emotional impact is astounding; patients quickly go from feeling stressed and anxious to serene or even joyful.

The experience is also physically relaxing; the warm water delivers an immediate sense of tranquility, which is quickly heightened by the comforting presence of dolphins. Each moment with these magnificent marine animals provides a much-needed break from the constant medical appointments and procedures. It's amazing how quickly both the physical and emotional manifestations of cancer-induced stress can melt away in such a lovely environment.

Often, cancer patients want family members or close friends to join them as they spend quality time with our dolphins. This is an exciting opportunity that we're happy to arrange. While free dolphin encounters are exclusively available to cancer patients, their loved ones get to take advantage of a discounted rate. The memories from this experience are truly precious; nothing quite compares to the shared joy of interacting with friendly dolphins.

Over the years, Oma's Dolphin Program has had an incredible impact on all kinds of people. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with cancer patients and their loved ones expressing appreciation for the care and respect they receive from the dolphins and humans they meet.

In addition to hanging out with dolphins, participants can opt for a photography package that commemorates this remarkable experience. The encounter itself is free of charge, but a small fee accompanies the professional photography shoot. The memories are priceless, however, and participants are thrilled to show off their photos and relive the joy of swimming with dolphins.

Make the Most of the Oma Dolphin Program for Loved Ones

Are you or a loved one interested in spending time in the company of dolphins? We'd love to help you set up a dolphin encounter through Oma's Dolphin Program. For more information or to schedule your visit, contact our reservations department at 305-451-4060. Friends and family members are welcome to join the fun at a discounted rate.


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