Laura Wright is a young, vibrant thirty-three (33) year old housewife who
resides with her husband and two children in Phoenix, Arizona. Laura was
diagnosed in September of 1998 with peritoneal mesothelioma by the U.S./Canadian
Mesothelioma Panel. After visiting with several doctors in Arizona and
California, Laura is now seeking treatment from Dr. Robert Taub at the
Columbian & Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.
Earlier, Laura began to developed ascites (accumulation of serous fluid
in the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity. Laura was prescribed diuretics and
underwent several paracenteses to remove the fluid. These provided only
temporary benefits for the reoccurring ascites. Laura was finally prescribed
Prednisone which kept the ascites under modest control. Laura returned
to the doctor periodically to have fluid drained. Laura was also prescribed
pain medication for pain management.
In February 1998, Laura underwent an abdominal CT scan. The results showed
that there was thickening of her lower bowel. The doctors considered Prednisone
treatments. Laura's abdominal fluid accumulation and pain continued
to be more serve. The doctors continued to treat Laura for a multitude
of gastroenterological problems.
On August 12, 1998, Laura entered the hospital via the Emergency Room for
excruciating lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Another CT scan
was performed which indicated that her descending colon was narrowed with
an almost complete obstruction. Laura also had an abnormally high white
blood count which in most cases is indicative of some type inflammatory process.
Laura underwent an exploratory laparotomy. Upon entering the abdomen, the
surgeon, noted an area of the small bowel that was adhered to the peritoneum
(lining of the abdominal cavity), descending colon, sigmoid colon and
the abdominal wall. The surgeon resected the small intestine from the
anterior abdominal wall. The surgeon removed a total of twenty-eight (28)
centimeters of Laura's small intestine along with a mass involving
the serosal surface of the small bowel and fluid.
In his operative report, the surgeon described Laura's small bowels:
"The small bowel was also rigidly adherent to itself in a ball which
resembled a can of worms due to the inflammation, adhesions and a mass."
The descending and sigmoid colons were so inflamed and thickened that
a colostomy was necessary. Laura's doctors noted the severe inflammation
and thickening of the colon, but were not sure of the diagnosis. The resected
portion of the small intestine and mass were sent to pathology along with
The peritoneal fluid contained reactive mesothelial cells. Upon pathological
examination of the mass, pathologist made a preliminary diagnosis of peritoneal
mesothelioma. The pathologists wanted a second opinion, so they sent the
material to members of the U.S./Canadian Mesothelioma Panel.
The pathology was reviewed by a number of experts, including Dr. Thomas
Colby with the U.S./Canadian Mesothelioma Panel. The expert panel's
final diagnosis was malignant mesothelioma.
On September 14, 1998, Laura was told of the confirmed diagnosis. Laura's
doctors said they could not do anything locally and advised that she had
six (6) months to live. The doctor went on to state that the only known
cause of mesothelioma was exposure to asbestos.
Laura was not going to let the cancer invade without a fight. Laura recalled,
"I just couldn't go home, lay down and die! I had to go somewhere;
do something; find someone who could help me!" After Laura's
discharge, she made an appointment at the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer
Center, in Los Angeles. She had also reviewed our website and learned
about Dr.Taub and his multi-modal phase III protocol for peritoneal mesothelioma
patients in New York City.
For three days she was examined at Cedars-Sinai. She had another CT scan.
The findings were basically the same as the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.
The doctor at Cedars- Sinai suggested a treatment option of intraperitoneal
chemotherapy, but they did not give very good odds, as chemotherapy alone
could not eradicate the tumors. Laura's fears and anxiety grew.
When Laura returned home from Los Angeles, she called this office in tears.
Laura wanted to know more about Dr. Robert Taub. We have a client with
peritoneal mesothelioma who saw Dr. several months earlier who reported
that he had been "cured." Our client was doing well and gave
Dr. Taub a glowing report. We called Dr. Taub's office and faxed copies
of Laura's medical records. Less than twenty-four (24) hours later
Dr. Taub's office called Laura and scheduled an appointment for October 20, 1998.
On October 3, 1998 Laura was admitted back into the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale
again via the Emergency Room. She went in for abdominal pain and vomiting.
This time the pain was much worse. Laura began received pain medication
and nourishment intravenously. Laura was not even allow to have ice chips.
She informed her doctors that she had an appointment with Dr. Taub in
New York. The doctors at the Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale began working with
Dr. Taub. The consensus was that Laura was developing another bowel obstruction.
Laura had not eaten in nine (9) days and all nourishment and pain medication
was being given her by IV.
With possible surgery looming, Dr. Taub wanted Laura in New York immediately.
She was over 2,000 miles away and in no shape to walk, let alone fly or
drive! If Laura was forced to fly commercially, all of her IV lines would
have to be disconnected and Laura would have to make the flight without
pain medication, fluids or any type of nourishment to give her strength.
Laura's insurance carrier initially declined to cover the medical
flight. Fortunately, Laura's doctors were in no mood for bureaucratic
red tape and they went to bat for Laura and her young family. The insurance
company recanted it's decision and finally approved payment for the
flight. At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of October 13, Laura was flown to
New York City on a specially chartered air ambulance.
Dr. Taub reviewed Laura's entire medical file page by page, slide by
slide to make his own determination and assessment as to the extent of
Laura's mesothelioma. A comprehensive medical review would enable
Dr. Taub to design a treatment protocol suited to Laura's diagnosis
and current condition.
On October 21, 1998 Laura underwent emergency surgery to repair a perforation
of her small bowel. The surgery began shortly after midnight and continued
until 3:30 in the morning. Dr. Taub repaired the perforated bowel, removed
accumulated fluid and made a new stoma for Laura's colostomy. To prevent
further adhesions, Laura's surgical wounds and old stoma were not
sutured closed, but were packed with a surgical dressing and antibiotics.
The surgical wounds are repacked twice daily and are healing from the
inside out thereby reducing the formation of new adhesions. Laura's
condition is stable but guarded. She is on heavy pain medication.
Laura is now at the Columbian & Presbyterian Medical Center in New
York where she is to begin her chemotherapy in mid-November. Laura is
hopeful: "I have a doctor for everything. Dr. Taub, the other doctors
and medical staff are wonderful. I feel that I am getting the best possible
During Laura's first week at she had an unexpected visitor to her hospital
room. Darrell Strawberry of the New York Yankees, who had recently been
diagnosed with colon cancer, was on the same floor as Laura. He was receiving
chemotherapy and dropped by to visit her. Laura was elated! Here was this
big superstar who was speaking to Laura as one cancer patient to another.
They spoke the same language of hope and courage.
Laura is trying to stay strong as the holidays approach. She misses her
family. Laura has not seen her son and husband since October 13, 1998.
Laura was exposed to asbestos as a child growing up in the household with
relatives who were construction workers at various Phelps Dodge smelters
POSTED NOVEMBER 17, 1998
Ms. Wright passed away on May 12, 2006