Meet the cancer survivor featured on Henry Ford Health’s new Thanksgiving parade float

Dennis Brant overcomes cancer, heart failure with help from Henry Ford

Henry Ford Health System featured Dennis Brant on their new float in America's Thanksgiving Parade. Here is his story.

DETROIT – A special new float paraded through Downtown Detroit during America’s Thanksgiving Parade: Henry Ford Health System’s new “Making the Impossible Possible.”

Featured on that float was a man who is more than thankful for the team at Henry Ford.

In 2006, now-50-year-old Dennis Brant began experiencing chest and arm pains and dizzy spells. For two years, the real issue causing his symptoms went undiagnosed.

“I was on a job one night working, and I fell to my knees, my heart went tachycardic,” Brant recalled. “I made it to an urgent care in Canton. The doctor told me, ‘You’ve got a pretty big problem here.’”

Doctors found a football-sized tumor in Brant’s chest. He has been told by several doctors that he would not survive, including that night.

“They basically old me that night I probably wasn’t going to make it because my heart rate was so high,” Brant said.

But, thinking about his kids, Dennis fought back -- and he ended up beating the cancer nine months later.

Then, two years later, he started showing symptoms of heart failure.

“It got to the point where I was having to sleep standing up, sleep on my knees, I kept passing out,” Brant said. “I would be driving in my car and passing out.”

The chemotherapy ultimately damaged Brant’s heart, and two different hospitals said the damage was too severe to repair ... until he got to Henry Ford Hospital.

“When I arrived at Henry Ford, I was literally dying,” Brant said. “The first doctor I met was Dr. Selektor, and she walked in the room and basically said, ‘You’re in really bad shape.’”

The doctor told Local 4 that when she first met Brant, she didn’t know if they would be able to save him. But, with a lot of hard work, his doctor and the team at Henry Ford found a way. Doctors implanted a device to help blood flow, and months later input an internal defibrillator to keep his heart going -- until he gets a new one.

Brant is currently on the heart transplant list.

“I knew I was going to be OK, I knew I was going to make it,” Brant said. “The reason I knew that ... it was the look on (Dr. Selektor’s) face. It was a look of confidence and determination. And it worked out. They saved my life.”

See the full story in the video player above.

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About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.