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Laura's Story
Laura and Emma at the
Laura and Emma at the "Picture of Health" Ovarian Cancer Research Benefit

In Laura's Own Words...

"Thanks for taking the time to visit! 

Let's see, everything began on September 21st, 2008. Walter took me to the ER after not having eaten in three days and running a fever. After several tests were done, it was discovered that I had a tumor that was 11 cm x 13 cm on my right ovary. 

The next day I was in surgery, removing the tumor and the right ovary. I went home the next day feeling wonderful. I wanted to return to work immediately! But I stayed home for three weeks. I felt like a new person! I felt like the tumor had been taking everything from me and once it was gone I felt so much better! I felt like it all was going to be better after that. Walt and I did not give much more thought to it, being reassured that the tumor was common and we were ready to move on. 

Wedding planning took over until the big day arrived. We found out that the results were malignant and everything was not as we had hoped. We met Dr. Ronnie Alvarez in Birmingham where we learned all the "maybes." Dr. Alvarez having a daughter of his own just married, knew how important the wedding was to us and we put everything on hold until after it was over. 

We enjoyed our wedding so very much! To have our family and friends there to celebrate with us was all we could have wanted! The day went by way too fast ;-) 

I had a PET Scan done shortly after, with inconclusive results. I was hospitalized around the same time for a high level of calcium. We found out that this is related to cancer/tumors. So it was confirmed that there was more cancerous activity. Small cell nueroendocrine carcinoma in the ovary area. We got the calcium level under control and in doing so met Dr. Edith Graves. What an amazing woman! So classy and most of all CARING! 

I underwent 4 rounds of chemo in Auburn until we realized in a CT Scan that the cancer had spread. There was a tumor in the lining of my lungs, abdomen, and pelvis. We decided to make a trip to MD Anderson in Houston, TX to seek out further advice.

Through MD Anderson we were connected with Dr. Kurzrock who is the head of the Clinical Trials and Investigational Therapies. We began a clinical trial and have so far completed 9 rounds. The trial was a success for the last 7 months, but at the last visit we found that I need to switch trials due to the minimal progression of the tumors, namely the pelvic tumor. We are hopeful this new trial will bring more healing"

Continued in Her Sister's Words...

"Laura’s strong will and courageous attitude helped her through the rest of her journey at MD Anderson. Unfortunately, after trying many different clinical trials with very little or no success, the cancer slowly grew and the high calcium levels caused Laura much pain and discomfort. However, Laura never ceased to amaze her family and friends, and even strangers, by her awesome display of selflessness and optimism. 

On the 11th of December, Laura, her husband, Walter, our parents and myself, and some of Walter’s family ventured down to Destin, Florida for a very special beach trip together. The weekend was full of love, support, and care for Laura as her condition slowly began to worsen. My parents and I took Laura to the beach, which has always been one of her favorite places to go, on Sunday afternoon before heading back to Auburn. We stood with her and embraced the fresh breeze of the ocean in those few peaceful and meaningful moments that would be Laura’s last time to see the beautiful ocean that she loved so much. 

After returning to Auburn, Laura, Walter, and my parents went to see Dr. Graves one last time to see what Laura’s options were at this point. Dr. Graves, who is such an amazing, caring woman, reluctantly told Laura that there was nothing else she could do to help because of the severity of her condition, especially the high calcium levels. After Dr. Graves gave Laura the choices of where she would like to go to spend the remainder of her time, for which she could not give an exact length, Laura calmly asked Dr. Graves what she would do, having looked up to and admired Dr. Graves throughout her entire journey. Along with Dr. Graves suggestion and the family’s wishes, Laura was admitted that day to the East Alabama Medical Center’s Hospice Facility called The Bethany House. 

My dad came to my house in Auburn to break the news to me, and we immediately headed to The Bethany House to be with Laura. The nurses and staff, who I greatly respect for being able to do the job they do, cared for and comforted Laura as if these women were the angels guiding her into a new journey where she would no longer suffer. As the night of December 14th progressed, Laura’s condition continued to worsen due to the high calcium levels, which caused her to be quite incoherent and confused. At around 10 pm, her family and friends gathered around her bed offering encouraging and loving words as Laura began to breathe very slowly. Around 10:30 pm, Laura took her last breath surrounded by the people she loved most and began her new journey into a world of happiness and everlasting joy. Although this was the hardest part of the journey for her family and friends, we were all comforted by the fact that our Laura was finally free from all pain and suffering. 

We truly believe that Laura won her battle with cancer, and we hope that we can continue her legacy through this foundation to help other women win their battle against ovarian cancer."  --Emma