WACO, Texas (KWTX) Lady, one of Baylor University’s live black bear mascots, is undergoing radiation treatment for a benign growth in her chest, next to her heart, the school said in a press release Wednesday.
The benign cranial mediastinal mass, or thymoma, was discovered in June during a routine exam by veterinarians at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
The 17-year-old bear completed her treatments Wednesday at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station and is back on campus.
“The good news for Lady is that she has no clinical signs of the mass, which means that we caught it early,” said Lauren Smith, DVM, radiation oncologist and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
“Thymomas are typically diagnosed when they’re so large in size that they’re compressing the heart and the lungs, causing difficulty breathing or lethargy. As we have been establishing the best treatment plan for Lady, the tumor has remained stable in size on advanced imaging. Being able to intervene at an early point is why we have a very positive outlook for her," Smith said.
Lady and her biological sister, Joy, 18, live on campus in the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year.
“Baylor University celebrates many beloved traditions, but few bring as much joy to students, alumni and friends and as many rich opportunities to interact with and educate young people in Central Texas as our live bear mascots, Joy and Lady. They are a cherished part of the Baylor Family,” Baylor President Linda Livingstone wrote in a message to students and staff.
“The veterinarians have begun a course of tomotherapy we hope will reduce the size of the tumor – a treatment that is believed to be the first ever done on a bear. We are grateful to have access to a remarkable team with the expertise needed for Lady’s care,” Livingstone wrote.
“Our priority is Lady’s comfort and wellbeing. Following the treatments, we will visit again with the veterinary team. We are optimistic about the results and Lady’s health.”