Gifts in Action

Your Gifts Tell the Story

Behind every gift to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine is a story. The detection of a new disease helps save lives. A scholarship makes school more affordable. A beloved animal's life is saved from cancer. From everyone at the college, you have our sincere gratitude for your generous support.

  • WSU Oncology Resident Awarded the Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicine

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Dr. Kevin Choy

    (center) Dr. Kevin Choy working with one
    of the cancer patients in the pilot study.

    While working in a private clinic in Melbourne, Australia, Canadian-born veterinarian Dr. Kevin Choy of Vancouver, British Columbia, saw a lot of elderly patients and he noticed something. Although veterinary medicine was capable of managing many chronic illnesses, cancer was not one of them.

    "We are getting better at managing other chronic diseases in animals such as heart disease and diabetes that would normally have been associated with a grave prognosis, but cancer is one of the few medical fields that we are learning more about every day" said Dr. Choy, an oncology resident at WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

    So he decided to learn more about cancer treatment and left private practice to continue specialized training and devote his career to helping animal patients with the hope that some of the knowledge could be useful for human cancers.

    With such a commitment to cancer care and research, it was little surprise that Dr. Choy received this year's Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Choy plans to use the awarded funds to treat more patients in a pilot study between WSU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

    "The awarded money will allow us to enroll more patients in the study," explained Dr. Choy. And that could help save lives by generating more consistent and reliable data. Past studies that have grown and tested cancer cells in a laboratory have not always provided useful, consistent result for treating patients.

    In the pilot study, Dr. Choy and his fellow researchers are looking at lymphoma in dogs to see what types of chemotherapy are the most successful in killing cancer cells in individual patients. Lymphoma is currently the most commonly diagnosed immune cancer often affecting breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and German Shepherds. The goal of the study is to one day develop a method that will individualize chemotherapy treatments with greater success and fewer side effects. 

    "If cells are dying, then we know a particular drug is working," said Dr. Choy. "We hope to develop a method to allow veterinarians to better select the appropriate therapy that minimizes side effects and is effective so that we do not needlessly administer cancer medications to patients without benefit."

    Though the research conducted at WSU will be piloted in animals first, the hope is that the results may lead to better treatments for resistant tumors in humans as well.

    "We all know pets and people that have been touched by cancer," said Dr. Choy. "I want to help animals and ultimately contribute to improving cancer treatment in people as well."

    Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux started the Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicineto give deserving students a chance for a great education that would give them a successful career in veterinary medicine. The Thibodauxes came to WSU in 2006 when their blue merle Australian Shepherd named Doc (a.k.a. Dr. Schnaut von Heineyshniffen) was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 5. After 18 radiation treatments, the meningioma went into remission, but four years later the tumor returned. Doc was brought back to WSU for radiation treatment. The Thibodauxes said WSU was wonderful to Doc and the veterinarians continue to follow up on his status. They are forever grateful for the additional time WSU gave them with Doc.

  • An Adopted Tabby’s New Lease on Life

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Chester mask

    The ICU staff saw that Chester was
    having trouble sleeping with the bright
    lights and all the tests, so they made an
    eye mask to help him relax. He also
    received round-the-clock care.

    Roya E. and Gyan H. of Vancouver, British Columbia, wanted a cat. So they did what many animal lovers do-they went to their local shelter to adopt an adult animal in need of a home. They fell in love with an orange tabby, and named him "Chester" (he had previously been called "Cheetoh," but they thought he looked more like a "Chester"). On January 30, 2012-Chester's adoption day-his life changed forever.

    Roya and Gyan noticed right away that Chester didn't seem to play like a young cat would. He had little energy, his breathing was not quite right, and his body also had an unusual shape. After a few trips to the veterinarian it was discovered that Chester had a diaphragmatic hernia (a tear in the diaphragm) that caused his internal organs-stomach, small intestines, liver, spleen-to move into his chest, which affected his breathing. Because he also had a healed pelvic fracture, it was thought that Chester had been hit by a car.

    They drove Chester from Canada to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital where Dr. Might told them about the risks and benefits of having surgery to correct the diaphragmatic hernia. He also told them that the surgery would cost between $3,000 and $4,000. As graduate students, that kind of surgery seemed financially out of reach. Dr. Might realized they would need help, so he told us about the Good Samaritan Fund. Roya and Gyan received $1000 to partially pay for Chester's medical expenses, which ended up totaling nearly $5000.

    "Our doctors were amazing," said Roya. "They worked harder than we could have hoped they would to save Chester. We definitely owe his life to them and all of the staff in the ICU."

    More About Chester