Dec 30, 2021 Latest post:
Jan 20, 2022
*UPDATE* We will be providing regular updates so please visit the "journal" section of the site for more information. Also, if you would like to contribute to the meal train please click the "ways to help link." Brandi's recovery will take about 4-6 weeks, so if you would like to send a care package, please feel free to contact us via phone or email for further information.
The Beginning of the Journey... On October 20, 2021, Brandi was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the left breast. This early information would not have been possible without the astuteness of Dr. Kourtney Sims, Holistic Integrative & Functional Medicine OB/GYN. During a routine well women examination, Dr. Sims discovered an area that was of concern. Given that Brandi is 38, and two years shy of the recommended age for a mammogram, Dr. Sims suggested that she be tested. The cancer was discovered after a series of mammograms, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. After Dr. Sims gently delivered the news, she submitted a referral to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. At this point the only information we had was the general diagnosis, and as you can imagine, we were terrified. We were told that someone would contact us to coordinate the first appointment, in the meantime, Brandi reached out to her long-time M. D. Anderson gynecologist, Dr. Michael Bevers, who agreed to coordinate her care at M.D. Anderson. We waited, and went throughout the weekend, which felt like an eternity, but heard nothing from the hospital.
A Ram in the Bush... In the meantime, I called my friend Gina Carroll, who referred us to her friend, a dynamic Black woman surgeon, at Texas Breast Specialist. Gina quickly reached out to Dr. Jamie Terry, who saw us on October 27, 2021. During the appointment she provided us with accurate information that immediately put us at ease, noting that Brandi's diagnosis was at stage 1A. She shared an evidenced based research study on this extremely rare form of breast cancer that affects 0.1 percent of all diagnosis of this type of cancer. This is a cancer that is typically found in the salivary glands, and has a poor prognosis given the location. However, we learned that the prognosis was excellent due to the early detection and location. which filled us both with peace. Dr. Terry provided an excellent and thorough explanation and a level of compassion and care that fortunately, one of the authors of the study that Dr. Terry shared , was also was the radiologist who read Brandi's biopsy at Houston Methodist Hospital.
An Extraordinary Level of Care ... The next morning Dr. Terry contacted us at 8:00 a.m. with referrals to an entire team, after personally calling each with specific instructions on how to engage with Brandi. The team consisted of Dr. Sean Boutrous, Plastic Surgeon at My Houston Surgeons, whom we saw a few days later, Dr. Bora Lim, Oncologist at Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Hamstra, Radiologist at Baylor College of Medicine. While at Dr. Lim's appointment, she greeted us both with a hug and assured us that she would be with us every step of the way. She arranged for us to meet with Cathy Sullivan, Certified Genetic Counselor. Brandi was tested to assess her lifetime cancer risks. For those who have an elevated risk of developing cancer based on your genetic test, you can work with your healthcare provider to crate a plan designed to prevent a cancer entirely, or help to identify a cancer at a an earlier, or more treatable stage. Fortunately, Brandi's results came back favorable, she does not have any genes associated with cancer. We encourage everyone, if able, to engage in genetic testing which isn't limited to those with a diagnosis.
Simultaneously, we consulted with an oncology team, and fertility specialist at M.D. Anderson. For the next month, on an almost daily basis, a battery of tests, appointments, and consultations occurred. After meeting with both teams of doctors in the medical community, we identified the best course of action for Brandi. Without reservation, Brandi, and I choose Dr. Terry, and her colleagues. We are also continuing to work with both teams for after-care. Quite quickly, her surgery was scheduled and expedited, and occurred on Tuesday, December 28, 2021. It was paramount given the racial and ethic disparities prevalent in the health care system, that we were fortunate to have a health care team of people of the global majority, 3-African American women, 1-Asian woman, and 1-African-American man.
Words Can't Express... We are extremely grateful for all of the calls, expressions of care, pray, and love. Our "Village" is our great gift, and you all continue to be a bright light in these trying times. We thank God for all of you!!!!!