Anne’s story of hope and happiness following two surgeries
“I was vigilant; I performed breast self-exams routinely and went for my mammograms regularly; I exercise, I eat healthy … but, I knew I would get breast cancer … it just happened sooner than I expected.”
Anne, a Human Resources professional living in the North Oakland County area, was 50 years old when she received the diagnosis.
Her mother and grandmother both had breast cancer, so Anne, who describes herself as a realist, knew it was inevitable. She underwent genetic testing but it revealed no BRCA gene mutation. (Mutations to the BReast CAncer gene significantly increase the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
“I’m a practical person; my goal was to detect breast cancer early; that is why I was so vigilant,” Anne points out.
Fortunately, the cancer was in its early stages. In fact, Anne was amazed that clinicians were able to detect it so early. “It literally was the size of a couple of specks of pepper!” she describes.
She was referred to Eric Brown, MD, FACS, breast surgeon with Comprehensive Breast Care. He conducted a lumpectomy, and Anne was back to her usual routine within a couple of days, she was happy to report.
But, the good news didn’t last as long as Anne had hoped. Seven years later, after Anne had her routine mammogram, Dr. Brown found breast cancer in her other breast. She would need six months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and six weeks of radiation as part of her overall treatment plan. She underwent genetic testing again; many advances had taken place over the past few years, and, as a result, she learned she carries the PALB2 gene, which, if mutated, increases the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer significantly.
Anne wants to share with other women that she wore a cold cap during her chemotherapy treatments and it saved her hair. In fact, Dr. Brown often asks Anne to speak to his patients about her experience with the cold cap. Anne has since started an international support group. She also volunteers to speak to others about her experience … ‘anything I can do to help ‘Brownie,'” her nickname for Dr. Brown. “He is such an exceptional surgeon and individual.”
Two weeks after her surgery, Anne was back in the yoga studio taking classes to improve her range of motion, which returned very quickly. She also reports she experienced no pain during the entire process.
“I had a pretty easy time.,” she is so happy to share.
“Dr. Brown is the embodiment of the perfect physician. He is funny, his voice is calming, his bedside manner is very good, and he really is the best of the best,” Anne emphasizes. In fact, he was the one who recommended Anne try yoga and now she is a real “yogi.” She practices almost every single day.
“I conducted a lot of research on him to make sure I was with the best, and I was,” she says with complete certainty. The first time she met him she felt comfortable, confident and calm.
She was especially impressed that he phoned her on a Friday night at 6:03 pm (she remembers the exact time) to break the news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “He didn’t want me to wait until Monday. I felt so bad that he had to end his week giving bad news.”
Anne was in Dr. Brown’s office on Tuesday. He spent more than 1 1/2 hours with her. “He was so respectful, he took all of my concerns seriously, he gave me as much time as I needed, and he made sure I left his office with every one of my questions answered.”
Anne now has a good year under her belt since her second surgery, “and I am looking at a whole new chapter in my life,” she says with hope. She spends her free time creating ceramic pieces that decorate her home. She also is an avid gardener. In fact, the day after her surgery, she was out working in her garden. She picked a bunch of tomatoes and asked a friend to deliver them to Dr. Brown
“He is the consummate professional with a personal touch that makes him absolutely wonderful!”
About Eric Brown, MD, FACS, breast surgeon
Eric Brown, MD, FACS, has been involved in the care of breast patients for more than 20 years. He is board certified in General Surgery and certified in Breast Ultrasound. He previously served as Director of Oncology Services at Beaumont Hospital in Troy, and also as Director of the Center for Breast Health at Beaumont – Troy. Dr. Brown is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the William Beaumont Oakland University School of Medicine. He is actively involved in research and serves as the Co-Principle Investigator of the Beaumont Cancer Institute NCI Clinical Oncology Research Program, and is the principle investigator for Beaumont Hospital on numerous national clinical trials. He was voted top breast cancer doctor for 2015 by Newsweek Magazine, and has been named a “Top Doc” for Metro Detroit by Hour Detroit Magazine for the past eight years.
To contact Dr. Brown and his staff, please complete our online form, or call the Comprehensive Breast Care Center at (248) 687-7300.