“I did a self-exam. I felt a small one in my left side and then my right side I just kept going over and over to make sure what I was feeling,” says Brown.
Tests would confirm she had cancer in both breasts. It was stage two.
“For any woman finding out that they have that, it was pretty devastating,” says Brown.
But Brown needed to stay strong for her daughter.
“My daughter is disabled. She depends on me. She needs me so I have to be strong for her. I definitely have to be strong for her. The only thing she understands is mommy is sick,” says Brown
With family by her side, Brown would go on to have chemo first, followed by a double mastectomy and radiation.
Doctor Yvonne Ottaviano, Chief of Medical Oncology and Director of the Breast Oncology Program at MedStar Franklin Square Hospital explains why the chemo came first.
Dr. Ottaviano says, “When we're worried that it might be more advanced stage, we jump in right away with chemotherapy and that allows us to see the cancer actually shrink as we did with her. We could feel it shrinking."
Brown also signed up to be part of a clinical trial.
“She was gracious enough to sign up for a clinical trial where half the women have just the standard hormone blocking pill after all of this but the other half get the standard treatment plus another pill -- in this case a pill called Ibrance which we know is more effective than just the regular hormone blocking pill in patients with more advanced stages of breast cancer,” says Dr. Ottaviano
Brown says, “I decided to get into clinical trial so I could help other women.”
Doctor Ottaviano says they are hopeful that adding the second pill will give women with early stage breast cancer a better long-term outcome as well.