Daniel P. Smith 2016-11-16 15:01:54
Thankful Patient Becomes Loyal Donor January 19, 2016, is a day Deidre Robinson will not soon forget. Early that morning, Robinson, 50, received a phone call informing her of the death of a dear family friend who lost her battle with cancer. Less than two hours later, the phone rang again. This time it was about Robinson’s own health and a suspicious mass in her neck. Just a month earlier, Robinson’s Internal Medicine Physician Alina Elperin, MD, noticed an enlarged tonsil during a routine physical exam. Dr. Elperin, who holds an academic title at the Pritzker School of Medicine, thought it looked unusual enough to refer her to a NorthShore otolaryngology specialist. The phone call delivered results from an MRI, which confirmed a mass in the parapharyngeal space deep in Robinson’s neck behind her jawbone. “To hear this on the heels of a friend’s death from cancer was upsetting, to say the least,” Robinson recalled. EMPATHETIC EXPERTISE Almost immediately, Robinson had an appointment at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center with Otolaryngologist and Surgeon Mihir Bhayani, MD, who specializes in head and neck cancer. She remembers shuddering as she passed building signage carrying the word “cancer.” Dr. Bhayani, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, carefully examined Robinson, noting the tumor and the possibility it could be malignant. He identified surgical approaches and earnestly addressed his patient’s questions. For Robinson, who had never endured an ailment more serious than a broken wrist, Dr. Bhayani’s empathy provided comfort amid intense, swirling emotions and eased her path to surgery. SURGICAL SUCCESS Last March, Dr. Bhayani performed intricate surgery along Robinson’s neck, navigating critical structures such as the facial nerve and carotid artery. After removing a portion of her salivary gland, he was able to see—and then precisely extract—the 5-centimeter tumor in her neck. “It’s very delicate surgery in a tight space,” he explained. Thankfully, the mass turned out to be noncancerous. After surgery, Robinson returned to her healthy, active life, which includes jogs along Lake Michigan. She is thankful for the compassionate care from her doctors, who consistently followed up and showed genuine interest in her wellbeing. The experience compelled Robinson to donate to NorthShore in honor of Drs. Bhayani and Elperin, to help others in need. “A doctor can make an experience like this better or worse,” she added. “These physicians made it the best it could possibly be for me.”
Published by Staywell/NorthShore University. View All Articles.
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