The most striking thing about the news that LSU’s Mike the Tiger mascot has cancer is the fact that the cancer was detected in the first place.
Earlier this month, an LSU vet student noticed a growth on the tiger’s face, and a follow-up scan revealed a rare and inoperable malignancy. There’s no cure for Mike’s cancer, but he’ll get radiation treatment at Baton Rouge’s Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center that could extend his life by a couple of years.
The discovery of the cancer — and the ambitious treatment plan that LSU veterinarians have developed to treat it — says a lot about how far animal care has progressed in recent years. As the campus fat cat, Mike gets top-notch health care — better, no doubt, than what’s available to a lot of Louisiana residents. It’s easy to chalk up the anguish over Mike’s health crisis to Louisiana’s Tiger Mania, another condition for which, alas, there seems to be no cure.
But there’s probably something else at work here beyond the football culture of Death Valley. In America at large, we’re putting more focus on caring for animals. Look at the booming business in big-box pet stores, doggy day care centers and boutique veterinary practices, and you’ll notice lots of critters getting TLC that would rival Mike’s.
Maybe that speaks to our widening circle of compassion, our sense that all lives deserve dignity and solace. We join many others saddened by Mike’s diagnosis in wishing him the best.
Of course, the most important test of compassion involves what we do to extend and improve the lives of our fellow humans.
A few miles from Mike’s campus habitat, lawmakers are mulling massive cuts to health care for the state’s poorest residents.
Our goal should be a state in which our sickest and most vulnerable neighbors get health care at least as good as Mike’s.