Mary Spring: Breast Cancer

In August of 2008, Mary Spring first heard the words that nearly everyone dreads: “You have cancer.” In Mary’s case, it was breast cancer.

In August of 2008, Mary Spring first heard the words that nearly everyone dreads: “You have cancer.” In Mary’s case, it was breast cancer. “I can’t think of many experiences in my life that affected me as strongly as that diagnosis did,” she said. “I felt a tremendous sense of shock, fear and upheaval.”

The first thing Mary wanted to know was where to go for the best treatment. Her family physician and trusted friend Ray King told her she could go absolutely anywhere she choose, including major cancer centers such as Cleveland Clinic, Sloane Kettering or the MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Then he told me I would get the same treatment at Henry Ford Allegiance Health and that he guaranteed I would get better care,” Mary said. She decided to follow his advice and be treated close to home. “Dr. King was not wrong,” Mary said. “I am very happy with the decision I made.” 

Mary believes it is a misconception that one has to go to a big-name medical center for the best care. “The best oncologists are all over the country and several are in Michigan—right here at Henry Ford Allegiance Health,” she said. “I am very impressed that Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s oncologists receive continuing education from the top experts in the field. In fact, the cancer drug I am on now is a result of those professional partnerships.” And people often don’t realize what a tremendous physical trauma traveling can be for a person who has cancer. I would have been worn out.”

Mary appreciates the personal care she receives at Henry Ford Allegiance Cancer Center. “The big-name centers provide excellent treatment, too, but an important difference is that the doctors and nurses here take the time to answer your questions and remain engaged in your case. After being seen, my oncologist personally takes me to the treatment room. I always feel very cared for.” 

In her own estimation, Mary and her care team “have been through the mill” with her treatments and the side-effects she has experienced. “That has been more the result of my uncooperative body than any fault of my care givers,” she said. Having to come to the hospital on weekends and late-nights, Mary had many opportunities to observe the personal care Henry Ford Allegiance Cancer Center provides. She once spent nine days in the hospital over the Christmas holidays. “The first ones to enter my room every day were my doctors,” she recalled, “my oncologist, my surgeon, an infectious disease specialist and a pulmonologist. These were not interns or residents but doctors, my doctors, all of whom are at the top of their field.”

The oncology nurses, too, “were committed to me and my well-being,” Mary said. “I think they all knew my home phone number by heart. I know for a fact that, just like my doctors, my nurses knew my case, my family, my hopes and my fears.”

Mary said she always feels she is getting “special care” at the Henry Ford Allegiance Cancer Center, but she knows that  “every cancer patient gets the same consistently high level of care.” Over her three years of treatment, Mary has “watched the doctors and nurses I think of asmy team treat literally hundreds of other people—cancer patients from all walks of life and all levels of sickness,” she said. “And my team is their team, too. They do their work day in and day out with warm professionalism and skilled care, using up-to-date technology and protocols. In my experience—not just my opinion—this level of care is unsurpassed.”

What Mary is most grateful for is that she has access to this excellent care so close to her home. For her, “Henry Ford Allegiance Health has become a place of hope, a place of healing—not just for me but for anyone in the community who needs it.” Mary believes that the new redesign and expansion of the Henry Ford Allegiance Cancer Center “will take this excellence to the next level. And when you have a disease like cancer, that is what you need and what you want—here at home—not in another city. 

Mary said she does not know what the future holds for her. “But I know one thing for absolute certain: I won’t be alone. The Lord has promised good things to me, and I see that promise fulfilled continuously, through family, friends, my community and especially my partners at Henry Ford Allegiance Health—a community asset that is worthy of our support.”

You can reduce your cancer risk by getting regular medical care, living smoke-free, limiting alcohol use, avoiding excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun and tanning beds, eating fruits and veggies, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.