Health & Environment

Texas A&M Veterinary Teaching Hospital Helps Veteran’s Dog Beat Cancer

A portion of the bills were covered by the Gary Sinise Foundation, which helps military veterans and their families.
By Megan Myers, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences March 16, 2021

two vet hospital employees crouch down next to a black lab
Lilly, a 10-year-old black lab, was treated at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

A dog named Lilly has a new lease on life, thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation and Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH).

“Lilly is more than just our dog. She’s more than just our family member. She’s changed my child’s life and made it so much better,” said Laura Deming, a physician’s assistant and Navy veteran from Houston.

Lilly, a 10-year-old black lab, joined the Deming family in 2011 as a trained assistance dog for Deming’s son, Beau, who has autism and a history of seizures.

Lilly is almost constantly at Beau’s side. The only time she isn’t is while Beau is at school, and Lilly can be found eagerly waiting at the school bus stop each afternoon. She’s even a member of Beau’s special needs cheerleading team and is assigned her own uniform so she can join the kids out on the floor.

Because Lilly is so much more than a pet to Beau, Deming was immediately concerned when she felt an odd tightness in Lilly’s chest in November 2019. Their local veterinarian didn’t think it was worth worrying over, but Deming decided to seek a second opinion.

The doctor diagnosed Lilly with a high-grade soft tissue sarcoma in her chest, a form of cancer that is common in dogs and, in Lilly’s case, was growing at a rapid rate. He performed an initial surgery that same day to remove the bulk of the tumor and suggested Deming find a specialist to provide further treatment.

Although Deming had no history with Texas A&M, she recalled a friend telling her about the veterinary specialists at the VMTH and decided to make the drive to the Small Animal Hospital (SAH) in College Station.

There, Lilly underwent a second surgery in January 2020 to remove the remaining sarcoma cells surrounding the site of the tumor, followed by six doses of chemotherapy, spread out over 18 weeks, to kill any remaining traces of the cancer.

In November 2020, a year after Lilly’s initial diagnosis, she was finally cancer-free.

“She’s done really well and the fact that she’s made it to a year is a big milestone,” said Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles, the Dr. Fred A. and Vola N. Palmer Chair in Comparative Oncology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

With help from the Gary Sinise Foundation Veterinary Valor Fund, the SAH was also able to cover a portion of Deming’s bill for Lilly’s care.

“One day I was wearing a Folds of Honor (an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members) shirt and someone at the hospital asked if I was in the military, and when I said, ‘yes,’ she said they would be able to help me, especially since Lilly is a service dog for a special needs child,” Deming said.

“We are so grateful,” she said. “I’m a single mother with two kids, one with special needs. I just can’t say how grateful we are that A&M is blessed enough to have the Sinise fund.”

Besides follow-up visits to the SAH every three months, Lilly’s life is back to normal and she is feeling great, according to Deming.

“Lilly is an amazing dog, so smart and so incredible,” Deming said. “She’s such a great service dog and a great help when it comes to caring for my son. It was really hard for him when she was gone for treatment, but all is good now and Lily is back to normal.

“Lilly would not be here now taking care of my son if it wasn’t for A&M,” she said. “We can never be thankful enough for all of the help we got.”

The Gary Sinise Foundation Veterinary Valor Fund accepts donations online from other donors. For more information, please contact Larry Walker, Senior Director of Development for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, at or by phone at 979-845-9043. Give online at

Media contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, 979-862-4216,

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