Fred and Hazel Hendricks have spent their lives in the medical profession. Fred is a renal surgeon at George Washington Medical Center; Hazel is a registered nurse. But despite lifelong careers caring for humans, the couple has always had a soft spot for the animal world. They’ve adopted scores of dogs, cats, and other creatures over the past few decades — and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
Earlier this year, the Hendrickses’ beloved Dalmatian Katie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The veterinary hospital where she was diagnosed didn’t have the expertise to operate on such a sensitive organ, so the Hendrickses traveled three hours from their home in Washington DC to Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital for care.
Their trip seemed like déjà vu. Ten years before, the Hendrickses brought their German shorthair Lucy to Penn Vet to treat advanced cancer in her cervical spine. The couple said staff at Penn Vet did everything in their power to support both them and their pup, even in her frail condition. At one point, Lucy’s neurosurgeon even cut a vacation short, returning to Philadelphia with a few hours’ notice for an emergency follow-up.
“It just really impressed on us the dedication and concern Penn Vet always has for our pets’ well-being,” Hazel said.
With its Comprehensive Cancer Care approach, which provides multidisciplinary, holistic, and tailored treatment for cancer, staff at Ryan Hospital extended the same care to Katie. Her initial surgery, while potentially dangerous, successfully removed the pancreatic tumor. A few weeks later, when Hazel developed a massive abscess at the tumor site, the surgical team again helped the Hendrickses fight for the dog’s life, performing a second three-hour procedure to
remove the infection.
“When it comes to tumors in that location, the risk sometimes outweighs the benefit of doing surgery. But the Hendrickses had complete trust in us, and opted to do whatever it took to help Katie,” said Dr. James Perry, Assistant Professor of Surgical Oncology, who performed both operations. “She had a lot of people rooting for her both here and at home.” Today, Katie is happy and healthy, and shows no sign of her cancer returning.
To show their appreciation for Penn Vet’s care, the Hendrickses have donated to the School in the form of gift annuities, and they are planning future giving.
“I have found gift annuities to be a very nice method of donating money to worthwhile charities,” said Fred. “They provide a nice initial tax deduction, quarterly income for life at about six percent, and one is assured that the corpus of the funds will remain in the intended hands.”
For him, the donations express not only of the love he and Hazel have for their own pets, but for other families’ pets as well. As medical professionals themselves, giving to Penn Vet is a no-brainer for the Hendrickses: “For many people, when their dog gets sick, their first inclination is to put the animal to sleep. But if you’re a doctor or nurse, you don’t think in those terms,” Fred said. “When your pet gets sick, you try to make them well. You treat them as part of the family—after all, they are. And if you want them to have the best possible care, you take them to Penn Vet.”