LSU Vet Med client and supporter offers resources for canine cancer patients

November 15, 2022

Renee Michael with Roscoe
Roscoe with Chloe


Written by Sandra Sarr, MFA, Communications Manager

Renée Michael is no stranger to the Oncology and Integrative Medicine services at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. She and her late husband, Mike Dedon, have brought a total of six of their dogs to be treated at LSU Vet Med.

Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in dogs and cats. Nearly one in four dogs will develop cancer at some stage in their lives. LSU Vet Med’s Oncology service aids in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of veterinary patients with cancer. Our Integrative Medicine & Rehabilitation service complements other services and incorporates both traditional Chinese and western medicines.

Renée first brought Shadow for brain cancer treatment in 2009. Since then, she has brought in Thibodeaux with a detached retina and for cataract surgery. Then came Boudreaux with a mast cell tumor and liver and pancreatic cancer in 2010. Chloe was brought in for kidney cancer in late October 2016, but it was too advanced to treat successfully. Thibodeaux returned with stomach cancer in 2017 and received palliative care. In 2020, Roscoe underwent prostate cancer treatment. Also, in 2020, Miss Daisy Jane was examined for suspected breast cancer but was cleared by the LSU Vet Med’s Oncology Service.

“We’ve gotten excellent care at LSU. If I have any major concern, that is where I’m going. Whatever my dogs need is there,” Renée said.

Renée has made it her mission to share free of charge the information she has gathered with others whose dogs have cancer.

“The information supplements veterinary care. It does not replace it. These resources can be especially valuable immediately after the diagnosis and are useful not only for dogs with cancer but also senior dogs and healthy dogs,” she said.

Renée is a proponent of natural remedies rooted in healthy foods and believes that every dog undergoing cancer treatment should also see veterinarians who specialize in holistic care. Renée has assembled resources and recipes she used with her own dogs into a digital collection she named Roscoe's 21-Month Cancer Journey Treats and Tips. 

“My project, Roscoe's 21-Month Cancer Journey Treats and Tips, can be accessed at  at no cost. I researched what I could do to help Roscoe, and I want to share that information and the recipes I’ve created. Everything that went into his mouth would help his body fight cancer by breaking down inflammation. If I can help someone, that is what I want to do,” she said.

Roscoe began radiation treatments with Jennifer Merkle, DVM, then a radiation oncology resident, and Jayme Looper, DVM (LSU 1997), DACVR (RO), director of Small Animal Services and professor of veterinary radiation oncology. Roscoe started taking herbal remedies and acupuncture treatments with Lorrie Hale, DVM, CVA, CVTP, CVTCM, clinical assistant professor of Integrative Medicine and Rehabilitation, in spring 2020. Renee gave him cranberry supplements to support bladder health.

“Roscoe breezed through three radiation treatments in March 2020. He was a fantastic patient, and he had no observable radiation side effects,” Dr. Looper said.

“We wanted quality of life, and we got longer life too,” Renée said.

Roscoe lived for 21 months after his cancer diagnosis.

“Roscoe taught me so much. He continues to help so many others,” Renée said.

Renée has established Roscoe’s Fund to support cancer research conducted by Joseph Francis, BVSc, PhD, director, Center for Comparative Oncology and professor in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at LSU Vet Med. The fund stipulates preferential consideration for alternative treatments and prostate cancer research.

Dr. Francis, a neuroscientist at LSU Vet Med, studies how antioxidants in fruits like blueberries can reduce brain inflammation in people and animals with depression and other health conditions including cancer. He grew up in India watching his father mix plants and spices to make home remedies for various ailments.

“My research interest has shifted into understanding plant-based therapies in modulating cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. I use pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention, including blueberries, in my research. Renée felt that my work and her interests were compatible. I am pleased to put Roscoe’s Fund to use benefiting cancer research,” Dr. Francis said.

“The natural products resulting from Dr. Francis’ research will benefit both animals and humans,” she said.  

Renée’s current focus is on facilitating early detection of prostate cancer in dogs and making available resources aimed at improving quality of life and possibly extending the lives of dogs with cancer.

“The more knowledge we have the more we can help each other,” Renée said.