People

Puppy fulfills wish for teen cancer survivor at Ronald McDonald House Houston

The 19-year-old twin from Puerto Rico is recovering from bone cancer


By Cindy George | August 23, 2019

The caramel curls, brown nose and hazel eyes were “marvelous” according to Ronald McDonald House Houston resident Paula Gómez Rodriguez this week after she met Mateo, her 10-week-old fluffy puppy.

Speaking through Spanish translator Sandra Trevino, a Ronald McDonald House Houston social worker, the 19-year-old cancer survivor exuded emotion as her wish was granted by Stuff the Sleigh, a Houston-area nonprofit that provides psychosocial and emotional support to pediatric cancer and hematology patients. The dog came from breeder Manor Lake Australian Labradoodles.

The apricot Australian Labradoodle is a mini version of Mogie, the canine comfort ambassador of Ronald McDonald House Houston.

Bone cancer survivor and Ronald McDonald House Houston resident Paula Gómez Rodriguez, 19, displays Mateo, a 10-week-old Australian Labradoodle puppy granted to her by Stuff the Sleigh, a Houston-area nonprofit that supports pediatric cancer and hematology patients. The dog is a mini version of Mogie, the canine comfort ambassador of Ronald McDonald House Houston. (Photo by Cody Duty)

“I wanted a companion for my life,” said Gómez Rodriguez. She has spent the last year at Ronald McDonald House Houston with her twin, Victoria, and their parents, while receiving treatment for osteosarcoma in her pelvis at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Treatment for the cancerous bone tumor required surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, the amputation of her left leg and reconstruction of her pelvis.

She’ll be headed home to Puerto Rico in about two weeks, but will return to Houston for continuing care that’s not available on the island.

Supporters there met Mateo Andres Gómez Rodriguez via social media—during his initial snuggles with Paula, which were streamed live on Facebook—and will greet him when the now-family of five returns to their hometown of San Lorenzo.

Paula has an Instagram and Facebook following. And now, so does Mateo. Visit mateo_labradoodle on Instagram to follow his adventures.

Bone cancer survivor and Ronald McDonald House Houston resident Paula Gómez Rodriguez, 19, of Puerto Rico, with Mateo, a 10-week-old Australian Labradoodle puppy granted to her by Stuff the Sleigh, along with her twin, Victoria, right rear, and their parents on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Cody Duty)



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