Finding the right cancer team provides hope, positive outcome for Detroit woman
Legal assistant and Detroit resident, Denise Taylor Malone, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52, the same year her mother died from the disease, and one month after her ex-husband developed throat cancer.
“I was so blessed to have Dr. Brown (Eric Brown, MD, FACS, breast surgeon) at my side, assuring me my condition and my mother’s were completely different, and I was in good hands with my team of physicians. I am forever grateful for the hope he gave me at the time I needed it most,” Denise explains with confidence.
She admits when she saw a cyst developing, she didn’t take action right away. “I was hoping it would go away,” but instead, it got worse and formed a bad abscess.
Denise’s family physician referred her to breast surgeon William Kestenberg, MD, who ordered an ultrasound. It showed an unusual looking football-shaped mass.
To play it safe, he ordered a biopsy, and the results showed Denise had stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer.
Dr. Kestenberg no longer performs surgeries, so “he recommended a breast surgeon (Dr. Eric Brown) he said would be a wonderful replacement. He called him ‘exceptional,'” Denise says. And he was.
“I found his bedside manner amazing. I liked him right away. In fact, when I was in the waiting room, a woman sitting nearby told me I would just love him.
“I was nervous about having surgery, but he calmed my fears, he made me feel at ease, he answered all of my questions and every one of my father’s questions, too,” she laughs
“My father came with me to meet him; in fact, he came with me to every chemotherapy and radiation treatment and almost all of my doctors’ visits. Of course, he had lots of questions. Dr. Brown answered every last one of them. He took time for me and my family. He explained the surgery step by step, and everything he said would happen did happen and exactly the way he described.
“He also discussed options after plastic surgery and resources available to me that I never would have known about. He also helped me with arm mobility. I cannot lift my right arm very high and he showed me exercises to help with my range of motion. There were no surprises along the way, thanks to Dr. Brown’s thoroughness.
“He really is a very special man – from putting my dad at ease to helping me in the post recovery stage of my life – Dr. Brown is so good at what he does.”
“He also helped me maintain a positive attitude throughout this journey in my life. He kept my spirits up; he is a wonderful man and surgeon,” she announces.
Before he could conduct surgery, the tumor needed to shrink to an operable size. Denise was referred to Jeffrey Margolis, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist, who ordered one month of chemotherapy once a week for 2 1/2 hours. Treatments were conducted at MHP (Michigan Healthcare Professionals) in Farmington Hills, the same location of her doctors.
But, therapy was interrupted suddenly when Denise found another abscess. Her cancer started growing in another area of the breast.
Chemotherapy stopped and radiation replaced it – every day. Frank Vicini, MD, radiation oncologist, began overseeing this part of her care.
When it was time for surgery, Denise says her worries started again. Would Dr. Brown be able to remove all of the tumor in one surgery?
“In my heart, I knew he would take care of it in one surgery because I had complete confidence in him, but that didn’t stop the worrying from creeping inside me.”
Dr. Brown did not let her down. He was able to remove the remaining portion of the tumor in a single surgery.
“Before I started my cancer treatment journey, a friend suggested I get a second opinion, but I said, ‘no, I am in good hands with the doctors I have,’ and that has not changed through this entire process,” Denise affirms.
As a paralegal, she previously had conducted her own research on each of the doctors and was confident she had the best team. And, shortly afterwards, Hour Magazine released its top physicians’ issue. “Every single one of my doctors was on that list!” Denise breaks into a huge smile.
In addition, Dr. Brown was named to Hour magazine’s top physicians’ list eight years in a row, and Newsweek magazine named him a top cancer doctor in 2015.
Shortly after her recovery, Matthew Chetta, MD, plastic surgeon and the fourth member of her physician team, stepped in to do his part of the surgery.
“I was very impressed on how my physician team was on the same page all of the time. They worked together so cohesively. I felt well taken care of. I have a great team of physicians who supported me every step of the way,” Denise says proudly.
Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Denise lost her hair and 40 pounds, but her appetite has returned with a vengeance, and she is embracing her new short bob, which looks amazing with her vintage outfits.
“I only missed my mammogram once,” she reflects. “I live a pretty healthy life; besides my occasional White Castle hamburger and a glass of wine, I eat healthy, too.
“When I was going through my chemotherapy treatments, so many patients were so negative. I remember one woman – no matter what I said to her she found a way to turn it into a negative response. Another woman came up to me and said my positive spirit was helping everyone. I was told I have a light that brightens everyone’s day.
“Live your life to the fullest,” Denise says with passion. “You just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
“When I heard I had breast cancer, at first I said, ‘Why me?’ But I came back strong, and I was determined to get through this, and I have.
“I had such a great team of supportive doctors. That’s half the battle.”
About Eric Brown, MD, FACS, breast surgeon
Dr. Eric Brown has been involved in the care of breast patients for 20 years. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (re-certified in 2013) and Certified in Breast Ultrasound (re-certified in 2017). He held two leadership roles at Beaumont Hospital, Troy (Director, Oncology Services and Director, Center for Breast Health), as a member of the Beaumont Cancer Institute until 2017.
Dr. Eric Brown is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the William Beaumont Oakland University School of Medicine. He is actively involved in research, as the Co-Principle Investigator of the Beaumont Cancer Institute NCORP (NCI Clinical Oncology Research Program), and is the principle investigator for Beaumont Hospital, on a number of national clinical trials.
He is also actively involved in the Beaumont Hospital Biobank, as the principle investigator of the Beaumont Hospital Biobank projects of Triple Negative and Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Breast Cancer patients, where he has a particular interest.
To contact Dr. Eric Brown and his staff, please complete our online form, or call (248) 687-7300.