Breast cancer survivor looks at life differently now
“The year 2019 was a difficult one for me,” breast cancer survivor and registered nurse Peggy “G” begins her story. “My mother passed away … I was her case manager and her advocate … I was exhausted,” she admits. “I was so consumed with her care that I almost forgot to schedule my annual mammogram.
“I eat well, and I lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting a mammogram every year, but I nearly forgot.”
When Peggy went for her screening in mid-October 2019, she was asked to return for a repeat mammogram. Afterwards, the radiologist conducted an ultrasound and ordered a biopsy. “I knew right then, I could read the radiologist’s eyes, and I could feel it in my gut. I wasn’t going to hear good news.”
Peggy began researching surgeons even before she received the official diagnosis. She happily was surprised to find the name of Eric Brown, MD.
“I met Dr. Brown about 30 years ago when he was completing his internship at a hospital in Detroit where I worked on a surgical unit,” she recalls vividly.
“He was so down to earth, he had good listening skills, he was so genuine and warm … he was not the typical surgeon,” she laughs. “I thought to myself, ‘he is going to excel.’”
When she officially learned she was diagnosed with breast cancer, “I thought I was prepared for the news, but my heart sank. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”
She told her referring physician she wanted Dr. Brown to conduct the surgery, and her physician replied, “that is who I was going to recommend.”
Peggy called Dr. Brown’s office to set up her first appointment, and she knew immediately she had made the right choice. “The staff was wonderful – definitely a notch above most offices I have worked with over the past 30 years.”
And when she saw Dr. Brown, “sure enough, he hadn’t changed at all! He was still the same sincere and genuine person I had met 30 years ago. And he remembered me!”
He spent more than two hours with Peggy. “I had a ton of questions, he actively listened, and he eased my fears and concerns. I was with him in his office on a Friday evening until 5 pm and he was in no hurry,” she notes. “He was there to listen and help me through this difficult diagnosis. He had a positive response to every one of my concerns, and he kept reassuring me I would be fine and that my cancer was treatable.”
Peggy went in for a lumpectomy the day after Christmas. She describes the procedure as “textbook,” and Dr. Brown called her to confirm the surgery was successful.
In Peggy’s case, she required 20 sessions of radiation therapy five times a week for one month. “I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to complete the sessions, but once again, Dr. Brown reassured me I could do it, and I did!
“I was so happy to ring the bell on my last day of radiation,” Peggy says with happy relief. “As I progressed in my cancer journey, I learned I really did have the strength to continue, just as Dr. Brown said.”
Along with her surgeon Dr. Brown, Peggy’s medical team included Samir Narayan, MD, radiation oncologist; and Laura Nadeau, MD, medical oncologist.
At her six-month visit with Dr. Brown, he assured Peggy that she was well on her way to a healthy future. “My mammogram in August was good, and I don’t have to see Dr. Brown until next year,” Peggy is happy to share.
“Receiving this diagnosis was a big wake up call,” she reflects. “I really learned to appreciate what I have, and to put things in perspective.
“I learned so much over the past year,” she adds. “Remember to allow your body to heal, look for support from family and friends, take one day at a time, practice relaxation and breathing, be kind to yourself, enjoy each day, don’t sweat the small things.”
“I look at life challenges differently now,” she points out.
“My mom had breast cancer 30 years ago and I saw what she went through; there have been so many advancements in 30 years, but the fear of hearing the diagnosis of cancer never changes.
“I am so fortunate that Dr. Brown was there to help me physically and emotionally.”
“A great surgeon needs these three ‘A’ qualities: ability, availability and affability, and Dr. Brown excels in all three.
“He loves what he does, he has excellent people skills, and he spends as much time with a patient as she needs. There are really good people out there to help you, and I am so blessed I found one of the good guys!”