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It was smaller than a dime, but the spot of discoloration on Beverly Ross’ thigh concerned her enough to make an appointment with her primary care physician.
And, she’s glad she did. Her physician ordered a biopsy of the area which confirmed the spot was sarcoma, a type of cancer that develops from certain tissues, like bone or muscle.
Beverly was first referred to a sarcoma specialist in metro Detroit, whose treatment plan left her in disbelief.
“He wanted to amputate my left leg because the tumor was in my thigh,” Beverly says.
Fortunately, Beverly’s caregiver, Donna, was with her and suggested she get a second opinion.
That led Beverly to Michael Mott, M.D., a Henry Ford orthopedic surgeon who specializes in bone and musculoskeletal cancer.
“When I met Dr. Mott, he told me that he would save my leg and that amputation wasn’t necessary,” Beverly recalls.
Dr. Mott’s treatment plan included surgery to remove two muscles from Beverly’s thigh. While Dr. Mott said this procedure may leave Beverly’s leg permanently stiff and unable to bend, less than a year after surgery, she had 75 percent mobility return in her left leg.
Then five years after her initial diagnosis, the sarcoma returned, this time in her right hip. Beverly again met with Dr. Mott.
“Dr. Mott was so encouraging, he was so positive and told me, ‘We can take of this, Beverly.’”
Dr. Mott recommended treatment begin with chemotherapy.
“That was the hardest time for me,” Beverly recalls, “I wanted to do nothing more than to go home and sleep, but I never did. Instead I asked my daughter LaToya to take me somewhere or to the store on the way home from treatment to socialize with others, before committing to a few days of bedrest.”
She even decided to enroll in college to her keep busy during treatment. “I made all A’s and got a degree in social work.”
Based on the tumor size following chemotherapy, Dr. Mott recommended surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was a success.
At a follow-up appointment with Dr. Mott, Beverly mentioned that she was having pain on the right side of her spine.
Upon further testing, Dr. Mott discovered a tumor near her spine, and another tumor in a spot near her heart.
“The doctor doesn’t know your body as well as you do,” Beverly advises. “You have to tell him or her how you’re feeling so they can help you.”
Like her previous sarcoma tumor, it was determined surgery was her best option.
Today, Beverly proudly celebrates being a sarcoma survivor.
She says that her journey wouldn’t have been successful without her medical team, friends and family.
“It takes a special doctor to fight with you. That’s a blessing.”
She adds: “My daughter LaToya was by my side while she was caring for her 3-year-old daughter, my oldest daughter Monique and granddaughter traveled from Arizona during my treatment, my niece, Shanda, drove me from Mt. Morris to my appointments, and my friends, Donna and Diane, kept me in good spirits and were always there for me. And my brother, Anthony, would drive all the way from Chicago while I stayed in the hospital for my chemotherapy, just to make sure I ate at least four times a day.”
For those currently going through treatment, Beverly offers this advice: “Keep pushing through, and go out and do something whenever you can!”