Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

First impressions make a lasting difference

This is Libby's story...

When my husband, Stewart, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, this silent killer had spread to his adrenal glands and bones.

One of the country’s leading experts advised us to go to Massey for treatment. Stewart’s prognosis left little room for hope, and this doctor assured us that Massey was among the best of the best. We still weren’t sure. Maybe there was more hope in New York or Boston or Texas. 

We made an appointment with Sherman Baker, M.D., at Massey. Our first impression of him made the decision for us to stay in Richmond. Dr. Baker exuded quiet humanity. His eye contact and soft-spoken manner created a comfortable rapport. He took time to answer questions, to explain the PET scan images and lab reports. He was a straight-shooter with a heart — a perfect match for us.

Stewart loved people, he loved life, and he gave and forgave generously. He lived by the Golden Rule, and he valued the honest answers offered by Dr. Baker.

One day Stewart asked, “What about pain?”

“Pain?” responded Dr. Baker. “You need to switch doctors if you want pain.”

Later, as his cancer progressed, Stewart asked Dr. Baker what it would be like in the end. “It’s quiet, peaceful, no fireworks,” he assured Stewart.

Shortly after Stewart died, Dr. Baker put his hand on Stewart’s head and said, “You were a good man, Stewart Brown.”

I know that Stewart felt the same way about Dr. Baker. 

Libby Brown made a generous donation to Massey in honor of Dr. Baker. In 42 years of marriage, Libby and Stewart raised two children, founded This End Up furniture, sailed the world over and founded Fowl Cay Resort in the Bahamas. Libby is also the author “Making Waves.”

Photo courtesy Christopher Winton-Stahle