Collaborative Cancer Care Story

Working with the hometown physicians who diagnosed his cancer, Henry Ford specialists used the most advanced cancer treatment to care for Brad Thompson.

Brad Thompson lives nearly four hours away from Detroit. But if you’d ask him, he’d tell you that the nearly 250-mile drive from his home in Cadillac, Mich. to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is “worth every minute.”

The story of how Thompson came to make those trips is based on a meeting with the right local ear, nose and throat specialist at the right time.

Thompson was introduced to Dr. Drew Collins soon after being diagnosed with throat cancer and beginning initial treatment at a hospital close to home.

“Dr. Collins noted that traditional treatment practices in cases like mine had about a 20 percent success rate in finding the source of my cancer,” Thompson recalls.

The procedure with the high success rate: TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS), an incisionless robotic surgical procedure that offers patients a new option to remove certain head and neck cancer tumors without visible scarring, while preserving speech and the ability to eat.

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit was among the first in the country to perform TORS using the da Vinci® Surgical System. Unlike traditional surgical approaches to head and neck cancer, TORS offers a shorter post-operative recovery, and it allows surgeons to completely remove tumors without disfigurement.

As luck would have it, Dr. Collins was set to talk with Dr. Ghanem that day. He told Thompson that he would use the opportunity to discuss the case with Dr. Ghanem.

What Thompson didn’t know at the time was that Dr. Collins had previously worked at Henry Ford Hospital with Dr. Ghanem and his team.

After the physicians spoke, Thompson was referred to Henry Ford Hospital. Within a week, he was scheduled for surgery, underwent the procedure and was back home. And, thanks to the success of the surgery, Thompson did not need radiation therapy.

“Dr. Ghanem and his team painted me a very accurate picture of what to expect before my surgery was performed, while giving me no false hope. And, after my surgery, they were there every time I had a concern or issue, whether it was day or night,” Thompson says.

“Dr. Ghanem's vision for quality treatment is branching out from Detroit and positively affecting lives miles and hours away.”

Thompson also notes that his entire experience at Henry Ford Hospital was a positive one.

When he forgot the case for his eye glasses before surgery, the staff at Optimeyes quickly provided a free case along with other goodies to make his stay a little easier; and when he was being discharged, a member of the valet team offered words of encouragement before Thompson made the long drive home.

Since his surgery last September, Thompson has returned to his job managing the Quick Lube in Cadillac, Mich. He’s leading a healthier, more active lifestyle, and enjoying time with his four grandchildren, he says.

Thompson also continues to have regular visits with his local ENT specialist, Dr. Collins, bringing his care full circle.

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