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Business Owner Finds His "Guardian Angels"

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Bob Waniss is a 60 year-old business owner who resides in La Habra, California with his wife Sally. Married since 1980, they have three children and three grandchildren.

Bob was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma following a September 18, 2009 biopsy. Prior to the diagnosis, Bob was enjoying excellent health throughout his life.

In August of 2008, Bob fell from a ladder. He experienced some pain and stiffness in his chest and back. He thought he broke a rib. However, because he had heard that there’s nothing a doctor can do for a broken rib other than prescribe pain medication, he never sought medical treatment. The pain and stiffness persisted for a number of months.

In July of 2009, Bob continued to experience chest pain and began to develop a dry unproductive cough. He also began to feel light-headed when standing up. That August, his family talked him into going to the emergency room at St. Jude’s Hospital in Fullerton, California. A chest x-ray was performed revealing a pleural effusion. A thoracentesis was performed rendering 1.5 liters of fluid which tested negative for malignancy. He was told that he had pneumonia and was given antibiotics.

The symptoms subsided for a few weeks but returned by the end of August. He went to his primary care physician who stated that pneumonia should not return so quickly. Worried about Bob, the doctor referred him to a pulmonologist. On August 8, Bob underwent another chest CT scan that revealed a moderate right pleural effusion with bilateral pleural plaques. The films also revealed some calcified nodules on both lungs. He recommended Bob undergo a tissue biopsy to determine what was going on in his chest.

On September 18, Bob underwent a right thoracotomy, right lower lobe wedge lung biopsy, pleural biopsies, diaphragm biopsies and pericardial biopsies. He also had a talc pleurodesis. Pathological analysis of the tissues resulted in a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Bob was then referred to a local oncologist who disclosed that she had only seen two mesothelioma patients in her career. She recommended that Bob begin chemotherapy and that if he didn’t respond after the first three rounds, which would take approximately three months to determine, she would refer him to a surgeon.

Bob’s daughter took it upon herself to investigate treatments and physicians for mesothelioma. She scoured the internet and kept seeing Dr. Robert Cameron’s name. She emailed Dr. Cameron explaining her father’s situation and requesting information about other treatment options. By approximately 7:00 a.m. the next morning, his daughter received a response from Dr. Cameron explaining the lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortication surgery(P/D) which he performs along with his preference that the surgery be performed before the patient undergoes chemotherapy. Dr. Cameron suggested that her father come in for a consultation as soon as possible.

On October 2, Bob met with Dr. Cameron. After reviewing his previous medical records Dr. Cameron requested UCLA pathologists to review the tissue samples previously obtained. The UCLA pathologists confirmed the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Cameron then discussed the different treatment alternatives available. He told Bob that it appeared the mesothelioma was localized and therefore he was a candidate for surgical therapy. Bob chose to undergo the P/D surgery at the UCLA Medical Center.

On October 22, 2009 Bob underwent the P/D at UCLA. Dr. Cameron found diffuse disease throughout his pleural space. He was able to remove the visible tumor which was subsequently tested and consistent with mesothelioma.

Once Bob fully recovered from the surgery, he began radiation therapy in Newport Beach, California. Bob completed the last of his 25 treatments on January 20, 2010.

He continued to follow up his care with Dr. Cameron, seeing him approximately every three months. He is very appreciative of Dr. Cameron as had special kudos for his wife and daughter for supporting him and finding Dr. Cameron. According to Bob, those two are his “guardian angels.”

A few months ago Dr. Cameron discovered of a new growth on Bob’s pleura. Bob subsequently underwent three cycles of Alimta with Cisplatin chemotherapy which unfortunately did not stop the growth of the tumor. In addition to the finding of the tumor, Bob’s abdominal region also showed increased PET activity. He consulted with a local oncologist to explore his options for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy which Dr. Cameron recommends.

Bob is currently awaiting approval from his insurance company to approve cryoablation therapy for the tumor.

These developments have put Bob on an emotional roller coaster. He’s looking forward to the day when he can finally take a cruise with Sally. He feels very fortunate to have Sally tirelessly doting on him, never leaving his side. His daughter continues to tirelessly research treatment options and seeking out mesothelioma patient information.

Posted on February 8, 2012