Lilly Cancer Researcher Draws Inspiration from Rescue Dog

Meet Graffiti, a rescue dog turned performer and top agility competitor. Five short years ago he was a stray, found with buckshot pellets lodged in his face and suffering from a host of anxieties. He was nervous, fearful of strangers, thunderstorms and even fireworks.

Lilly cancer researcher Symantha (Sam) Melemed took Graffiti into her home and began working with him on an agility training regimen. Graffiti took to the program, which helped to ease his fears and anxieties. In short time, he was competing in agility events around the world, eventually earning a No. 1 ranking in the United States.

Sam is quick to point out similarities between Graffiti’s story of success and her own approach to cancer research: “He came from a place where it was almost impossible for him to succeed. And the odds are, when we develop a medicine, most of them fail, so you have to believe in every medicine that you bring forward, that this could be the one.”

Melemed brings this philosophy of perseverance and optimism to Lilly every day. “When I think about what motivates me to keep doing cancer research, the singular thing is helping patients. We’re all personally touched by this mission.”

Watch the video above to learn more about Sam and Graffiti’s inspiring story.