Breast cancer survivor finds Dr. Eric Brown “one of the best”
“I must admit that as much as I don’t like to wish my life away, I am happy that 2019 is over in many respects,” writes Cindy Walter, a Rochester wife, mother and grandmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2019.
“It’s such an odd sensation to reflect on the past year, learning I had cancer … and now I don’t,” she observes.
Instead of telling her story repeatedly to family and friends, Cindy started journaling her cancer journey on a website called CaringBridge.
In one of her first entries – April 2019 – she wrote, “Having been healthy for 66 years, I was not prepared for the callback mammogram and subsequent ultrasound. I was thrown for a loop. My worst fears were confirmed.”
Her story started when she returned for a call back mammogram. Cindy overheard a technician whisper the name Eric Brown, knowing the patient would need a surgeon. Cindy remembered his name, and she’s grateful she did. “He gave me hope for a healthy future,” she announces. After the callback mammogram, an ultrasound and biopsy, Cindy learned she had breast cancer.
Almost overnight, her life was turned upside down when her daily routine suddenly changed to a series of tests, doctors’ appointments and cancer treatments. What brought her some sense of calm through this devastating experience was her medical team who were at her side over the next several months of highs and lows.
Her medical team included breast surgeon Eric Brown, MD, FACS; plastic surgeon Michael Meininger, MD; naturopathic oncologist Michael Walker, ND, FABNO; oncologists Frank Vicini, MD FACR, FASTRO; and Adil Akhtar, MD; and chemotherapy nurse Melissa Marrio, RN.
“After hearing Dr. Brown’s name, I talked with my gynecologist (Frederick Bartholomew, MD) who confirmed he was a good choice. I read Dr. Brown’s reviews and they all were exceptional. He was named a top breast surgeon in Detroit Hour magazine for 10 consecutive years! That made my decision easy.”
When she met him for the first time, she brought her husband along for the visit, and he also wholeheartedly supported Cindy’s decision that she had chosen the right doctor.
“Dr. Brown’s warmth and ability to put me, and my husband, at ease, is invaluable,” she finds.
“Dr. Brown spoke to me in terms I could understand, he has a reassuring manner that made me feel everything would be OK, and he told me my cancer was treatable. I knew I couldn’t have found a more suitable doctor.”
Cindy was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, but she didn’t fit any of the criteria. “I found out that Dr. Brown has a special interest in triple negative cancer and is conducting research on this topic. In fact, he is using my case as part of the clinical trial.”
Dr. Brown recommended chemotherapy first, followed by surgery.
“Everyone I knew questioned why Dr. Brown would want to leave the tumor in my body longer than necessary, but, as he explained to me, the chemotherapy would help to shrink the tumor, and he needed to determine the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. He was right!”
After five months of chemotherapy, Cindy underwent a lumpectomy, performed by Dr. Brown. Several months of radiation followed.
The surgery was successful, the tumor was removed, no cancer cells were detected, and Cindy is resuming the life she missed for almost an entire year.
“I’m alive and I don’t need anymore treatments! It was a long rough road, but I was so glad I was on it with Dr. Brown. He was pleasant and positive always, he was easy to talk to – even through my tears – and he reassured me I wasn’t doomed, which crossed my mind more than once.”
Cindy also notes that Dr. Brown’s staff was just as warm, welcoming and helpful. “You can’t always talk with the doctor, but his staff are just as kind, compassionate and reassuring on dark days,” Cindy finds. “They made the process so easy for me. They set up all of my appointments and handled all of the insurance; I didn’t have to worry about anything except getting healthy again.
“I’m very grateful and very blessed to find such wonderful doctors and to have the support of so many friends. I experienced such an outpouring of love.”
Cindy wants to share this message with other women: “Do not procrastinate getting your annual mammogram. I did not and it appears this test saved my life. I did not feel a lump and I felt perfectly healthy.”
And Dr. Brown … “he is one of the best doctors I’ve ever had in my life. He has a tough job; it takes a special person to do what he does.”
While undergoing her cancer treatments, Cindy celebrated a birthday. “I’m going to try to remember never to complain again about getting older! Each day truly is a blessing!”