September 01, 2020


A happy dog sits on the grass under a tree


When a friend called to say he had found a little dog scared, abandoned, and tied to a Central Park bench in the rain, Dominique immediately agreed to take the pooch until a forever home could be found. Despite already having her hands full caring for her elderly German Shepherd, Cypress—whose hind legs were paralyzed—Dominique had plenty of love still to give.

Dubbed “Lola” by the man who had found her, the scruffy Havanese was quiet and shy, but instantly bonded with Dominique. In fact, that first night, Lola scrambled her way onto Dominique’s bed, pressed her small body against her new friend, and fell asleep with all four legs stuck up in the air. That was when Dominique knew that Lola’s forever home had already been found.

Lola and Cypress became fast friends, playing together in the park every chance they got—Lola running on four legs, Cypress on two legs and two wheels. And when Cypress passed away, Lola mourned with Dominique, offering the comfort that only a beloved dog could provide.

One morning, Dominique awoke to see Lola’s legs twitching wildly on the bed next to her. It was no dream of running in the park—something was wrong. “I grabbed Lola and took a taxi to AMC, where we’ve always received the best care,” she said. “I told them, ‘do any tests you have to do.’”

Tests revealed that Lola’s blood sugar level was so low that her life was in immediate danger. With no time to waste, the emergency medical staff started an IV before continuing the testing. The news that came next was even worse: Lola had pancreatic cancer and would need surgery as soon as possible.

Desperate to save her little girl, Dominique gave the go-ahead, and Lola was whisked into the operating room. Once they got started, the AMC surgical team realized that what had first seemed like an easy-to-reach tumor was, in fact, sitting right on a major artery. Though the surgeons took all of the tumor they could, there was simply no way to remove 100% of the cancer—not without incredible risk. Lola’s best shot at survival would be chemotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells.

Dominique was hesitant to do chemo. “I thought it was too awful,” she confided, “and I didn’t want to put Lola through all that suffering.” But she had a change of heart after talking to Dr. Nicole Leibman, Chief of Oncology at the Cancer Institute at AMC, who put Dominique’s mind at ease. “She said it was just a little pill, and that dogs and cats tolerate it very well, often without side effects!”

After about a year of treatment, Dominique was overjoyed to hear the news she had been waiting for: Lola’s cancer was in remission! Even now, four years after her original diagnosis, Lola remains a healthy, happy dog with no sign of the cancer returning—though Dr. Leibman and her team continue to monitor Lola to make sure she stays that way!

A happy dog sits on the grass under a tree
A dog stands in the sun on the grass
A dog wearing a sweater outside