Tag Archives: Melanoma

And a time to every purpose, under heaven …


It took Pete Seeger and The Byrds to put a few verses from Ecclesiastes into perspective for many of us:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

So it would seem for the contents of last week’s letter.


April 24, 2017

Ellen/Reid: By the time you open this, Ellen, surgery on your arm will be done and you’ll be all sewed up, good as new. Good for the dermatologist to catch it in the apparent early stages. There’s nothing wrong with check ups every three months. I’m still on that quarterly regimen, too, as is your mother and your uncle. Reid, I know Tim hit you hard about a skin check up but really, get in since this insidious beast can lurk around almost unseen. Almost the entire family has had melanoma. So please, get checked.

It rained all day yesterday around here and still is this morning. I didn’t realize how much of a downpour we had until I brought up the digital Charlotte Observer. Apparently some neighborhoods were badly flooded and are still out of power. The little creek behind the house is bank full. I guess it’s good for the reservoirs but it washes all the litter into them.

It’s a relief in a lot of ways that the Road King is nearly gone. I’m quite fine with it. It was just time. Not my favorite of all the Harleys I’ve had and maybe if it was the old Heritage Softail then there might still be a bike in the garage. But there’s not and that is just great. The guy who bought it was excited and he picks it up sometime in the next couple of days if the rain stops.

IMG_2986

The Road King needed a new owner who could put the bike through its deserved paces. And it got one in a great young guy named Matt.

We didn’t haggle much on the price, and I threw in lots of misc. gear like a cover and tour pack and a jacket and cleaning supplies and a helmet and some Harley tees just to be rid of stuff. I’ll use some of the proceeds to recover the kitchen cabinets, maybe re-carpet the place and buy tickets to see you goons. Whatever is left will go to my trek in Spain this fall. I’ve started to go to weekly coffees about how to plan for the Camino de Santiago. Since I’m not the planner extraordinaire, even a few tips will get me down the road.

Ellen, I’m close to a ticket for your graduation. Are you absolutely sure you’re okay with me visiting since you guys will need to be in a motel? You may not need me as a fifth wheel so help me make the call. Why aren’t they having the graduation there on campus? Wouldn’t that be the Continue reading

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To every season, turn, turn turn …


“To every season, turn, turn, turn” sang the Byrds and that seems to be the theme of the past few weeks if not months. You pick up the pieces and move on, and if you’re lucky it’s onward and upward.

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September 15, 2015

Ellen/Reid: It’s a good thing Emma and her sister don’t get a look at their grandfather just now. They’d scream and run the other way (at least Georgia might try to crawl). The left side of my face looks like I got blind sided by Mike Tyson. My left eye is completely shut and the cheek is swollen all the way to my jaw. But this is as the surgeon predicted and it’s just one of the by-products of the process. It’ll go away soon enough, one would hope. Icing a few minutes each hour seems to help somewhat.

Your dad really got off lucky. The ordeal began at 7:15 – I went in truly confident – and my room was reserved until 4 p.m. (they scrape and test and each pathology test takes about 45 minutes) but after the first go-round they said the margins were clear and they’d sew me up. That lightened the mood considerably. I told the surgeon and his assistant they had a nice bedside manner.

This is what passes for out patient surgery style these days: a butt ugly gown and an old pair of Rod Laver shoes.

This is what passes for out patient surgery style these days: a butt ugly gown and an old pair of Rod Laver shoes.

There are 10 stitches under the surface and 15 on the top. These are the dissolvable kind so no need to go back in to have the sutures removed. At least Tim could remove yours, Ellen. When I left the office about 9:15 I could see people who weren’t quite so fortunate. There but for the grace of God go I.

There will be a lasting 1.5” scar that the doc said might take eight to 12 months to truly subside but will always remain visible and that’s okay. It’ll just add a little experience to my face. He suggested I could tell people it was the result of a bar room brawl but no one would believe it. Next up is the bruising but that should go away in due time, too. I have a golf buddy, Doug, who’s been through this very recently and his counsel and support has been great to have. If nothing else, it just means you need to slather Emma and Georgia with sunscreen (this goes for you, too, Reid) from here on out. There’s hell to pay for sun during your formative years.

So, Ellen, you guys are thinking about building? Your grandfather would be proud since he was a huge proponent of that. But be sure to take patience pills since it’s a gigantic stressor from start to finish. Building from scratch was never in the cards for me but Continue reading

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It could be a teaching moment …


We double dip today with two letters after the return of one week’s worth of envelopes for non-postage. Chalk it up to ‘operator error.’ I’d like to think that won’t happen again, but hey, I am aging. On the bright side, it could be a teaching moment for my course on letter writing at Central Piedmont Community College.

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February 2, 2015

Ellen/Reid: The Super Bowl is over so we collectively breathe again. I wasn’t especially jazzed about watching it last night. Must be some form of football fatigue. At least the Big Game was close for a change.

The pathology report is due today or tomorrow. Again, you’ll know things way before this letter arrives at your doorstep. The surgery wasn’t quite what was expected. I envisioned an operating room type setting but instead in an upright chair as the surgeon’s assistant marked the excision boundaries in purple ink then pumped my arm full of Linocaine, a local anesthetic, to deaden things up. She poked me a few times with the needle when I wasn’t watching to see if the liquid took hold. It worked well and worked fast. The surgeon, Dr. Smith, came in and got right to it. He reviewed the initial dermatologist report line-by-line and he was quite positive about the outcome (barring any untoward comments from the pathologist). In the space of 10 minutes he carved out a silver dollar sized circle all the way down to the muscle and plopped the orb into a bottle to send to the lab. He talked me all the way through what he was doing and why. It was morbidly fascinating, and the assistant even took a few shots with my phone. You got one of the mid-surgery shots, Reid, and you both got a look at the scar. Most of Dr. Smith’s time was spent sewing up the wound with two layers of stitches. One stays put, the other will come out next Monday. I don’t know why I envisioned a longish opening rather than a circle. When he used a test stitch to draw together the circle, it puckered up on both ends, which he called dog ears. He lopped those off with his scalpel and finished the procedure. He sat with me for a little while to answer any residual questions and offered last minute assurances then he was off to the next patient. I’m not supposed to lift anything heavy for the next few weeks to keep pressure off the incision. Not sure when I can golf again, maybe 4-5 weeks, but I’ll ease my way back into things.

I overdid it a little bit on Saturday. Without golf, I had to invent something to do so built a bench in the garage for my tools and to stow my fishing stuff.

In hindsight, 'measure twice, cut once' is a good rule to live by when you build something.

In hindsight, ‘measure twice, cut once’ is a good rule to live by when you build something.

It took me virtually all day, with a couple of trips to Lowes in there, to finish the beast. But at least things are now off the floor. Ready-made shelving might have been cheaper and quicker to install but it was cathartic to break out the saws and drills.

If Dr. Smith clears me for heavier activity, I’m hopeful to head back to Charleston in a couple of weeks to fish. My boat won’t make the trip since the prohibition against lifting heavy objects will still be in place and will instead rent a fishing kayak and lightly paddle my way around the Intracoastal. My frozen Continue reading

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“… that has made all the difference.”


Most of the things I do are head shakers: as in you shake your head at yet another act of nuttiness. (Insert your own, perhaps stronger, descriptor here.)

Here’s another chance to shake your noggin from side to side. For the first time in nearly 15 years, and for reasons unknown, I forgot to put postage on last week’s letters to Ellen and Reid. The unstamped envelopes were unceremoniously returned to me on Saturday.

Ellen's letter came back with the red mark of postal shame.

Ellen’s letter came back with the red mark of postal shame.

Since the usual practice is to allow the kids to read what is sent before you see the somewhat edited versions, the returned letters will be tucked inside today’s letter and mailed again – this time with a stamp. There’s a whole lot of head shakin’ going on.

Perhaps, however, this is a chance to show that my two aren’t the only ones on the receiving end of letters. Indeed, far from it. This ‘thank you’ went to the dermatologist who squeezed me into her busy schedule, and, to borrow from Robert Frost, “… that has made all the difference.” As I re-read it this morning, I might have worded a few rough patches a bit more carefully, but the emotional intent remains the same: what they did for me and what they do for others is very much appreciated. (Note: the names of the dermatologist and surgeon are omitted for privacy sake.)

———————–

February 2, 2015

Dr. Smith: The call from Dr. Jone’s office came early this morning with the news that I’d hoped to hear: the pathology report “… came back just fine and there’s no further treatment required.” He removed the “thin melanoma” you discovered and broke the news to me gently about a couple of weeks ago.

I guess this note is really in two parts. One is to thank you and your staff for getting me in early in lieu of waiting a nerve-whacking few weeks down the road to get into your office. And the second part relates to the surgery by Dr. Jones and what he and you represent to the average patient.

He talked to me through the entire process from excision to final knot in two rows of neat stitches. As I buttoned my shirt after ditching the stylish patient gown, and as he finished asking me if there were any other questions as he was ready to exit the room, I blurted out that what he was doing in his office is important work. He may have described things as routine, but for folks like me who walk in a half hour early and are filled with anxieties and wondering what lies ahead of us in the small, strange operating room, the surgery is anything but.

You also go through your routines day in and day out, yet I’d tell you the same thing that he heard: what you guys do over off of Fairview Road is important work for people like me.

Best regards – and thank you.

Dave Bradley

 

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Ready to go under the knife …


Things are done and looking optimistic and hopeful. By this time next week all the reports will be back in. Fingers crossed.

———————

January 26, 2015

Ellen/Reid: I thought about waiting to write this tomorrow afternoon once the results of the surgery were known, but why break with tradition if there’s a few free moments this morning? Of course, you’ll know how things went long before this note arrives. Your uncle called last night but I was already zonked out. He’ll get return a call this morning. Things are increasingly positive, at least attitudinally, on this end, and that’s a good thing. The surgeon’s office called twice this week, once to make sure the financial details were buttoned up and the second was to apprise me of what to expect once in the office. Pam Kenyon called last week (she’s survived breast cancer for 11 years now) and it was so good to hear from her. Bob Furstenau has been in touch almost daily. They are good friends, as are the folks in my golf group who’ve been non-stop in their support.

I have started to buy sun gear for golf and general outdoor activity. According to what I read, clothing is a better sun protector than sunscreen so the commitment here is to pants and long sleeve shirts. I did buy a few sets of Nike Dri Fit sun sleeves. You pull them up your arms. There’s elastic on both ends to keep the thing snug and in place. Interesting that there was no knowledge of the existence of these until the diagnosis. Reid, let Liz know Coolibar is also getting some of my business and their gear is to arrive this week.

The surgery wasn't like going to the electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation for the entire 45 minutes of the excision.

The surgery wasn’t like being strapped to an electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation the entire 45 minutes of the excision. More on that next week.

Thanks for the short review of American Sniper, Ellen. Ever since Saving Private Ryan, I’ve steered clear of a lot of violent war stuff. Not sure why that is since I enjoy good movie making. Perhaps that’s a testament to the realism of the movie maker. The theatre is a scant 200 yards from here so maybe there will be a trip up there.

My weekend was mostly golf. Got out twice because there’s no way to be sure how long I’ll be on the shelf. It will be missed but that’s really pretty much okay by me. It was good to get a couple of rounds in with friends although the courses were soggy and muddy from recent rains. Dormant Bermuda is just awful to play on.

Got the Caldwell Presbyterian newsletter done in the nick of time. Why it is there is an increasing delay to get the thing done with mere hours to spare is beyond me. The last minute rush creates for mistakes that shouldn’t be made. John seems to like it, though, and that’s the measuring stick. Reid, you’ve never seen it although you can go online to caldwellpresby.org to sneak a peek. Ellen, your copy will be in the mail this week and not overly delayed like the December issue. FYI … John’s mom is slipping and he’s been making the trek to Atlanta at least weekly to be with her.

Looks like Tom and I have a couple more people on the hook for this July’s trek to the Bridger Wilderness. We’ll go to the South end again up towards the Cirque of the Towers. Reid, if you and Liz can make it, that would be wonderful but don’t feel obligated. Since my retirement is delayed until February of 2016, there will be no leisurely drive up there with stops along the way to see you two and the grandkids. We’ll do the usual and fly to Jackson and rent an SUV from there. The real dates are July 24 – August 1.

If the arm is capable of hefting the kayak, the next fishing excursion will be down to Charleston over the President’s Day weekend. I might entice my friend Jody to go with me, and not because he can help me lift the darn thing. His mother just passed away last week and it would be good for him to fish waters where he has caught sizable fish. There are sardine’s frozen in the freezer that we’ll use for bait. Reid, I’ll buy some finger mullet just like Ryan was using when he caught all those reds. We’ll take some shrimp along for good measure.

Okay, sports, I’m out of here. Watch for a call and/or Facetime this week.

Love, Dad

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“No letter?”…


The string of letters was broken last week for the first time in I don’t know how long.  A long, long time.  It was chalked up to equipment malfunction but it was probably closer to ‘operator error’ in that I moved my office to the house and I couldn’t quite figure out the new printer.  But that’s been cleared up and the presses are rolling again.  Ellen was first to pick up on the lull in mailbox activity with a quick text “No letter?” so I guess there is some assurance that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

The lapse gave me some time to think about the unfolding details of a new development for Felicia.  The kids have both known about her melanoma for a week or so, but the details and scope of the issue weren’t yet fully known.  They are now and we’re ready to move ahead.

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June 1, 2011

Ellen/Reid: I’m up on the third floor of the townhome this morning, typing away in my new home office.  Although it is in theory an ‘office’, your grandmother’s old twin bed is nearby and I have to fight the urge to lie down for a moment to rest my eyes.  I’m officially a MyWorker.  That’s bank parlance for someone who works from home or a satellite office.  I’ll work from home three days a week and make the reasonable drive to one of the outlying offices the other two days.  There’s only one other person in town who is on my ‘team’ and I’ll see her often enough.  There was no earthly reason for me to drive the half hour each way, plus the parking space and other expenses.  As it turns out, I actually start the day much earlier – about 6:30 – than I might otherwise.  A guy could get used to working in shorts and a t-shirt.  I wasn’t able to write last week because the printer was on the fritz.  The string of letters was broken by a technical malfunction, to quote Janet Jackson.  You probably didn’t miss much.

Today Felicia goes to her surgeon to find out what must be done to eradicate the melanoma which is on her left calf.  It was discovered a few weeks ago during a routine examination, and it was determined to not be very deep (which is how they measure those things) and that is a good thing.  She’s an outdoors person but had also frequented tanning booths (which she stopped going to last year) but the damage was done.  She’s shown the patience of Job in not riding her doctors to get her taken care of sooner.  That the disease had not shown signs of progression probably influenced their decision to make her wait for a few weeks, but it would’ve driven me totally nuts.  We’re not sure when the surgery is scheduled – we will find out today – and they will likely carve out a chunk of her leg to make sure the beast is eliminated.  I’ll be with her when she goes through that, just as she was with me in February.  She’s been a trouper through all of this.  It reminds me of your uncle’s situation, which is going on 10 years now in terms of a clean bill of health.  He had a significant melanoma taken off of his left arm, and even now he goes through an examination every three months just to keep on top of things.  I can’t recall if he underwent any chemo or radiation but the lesson here is that you guys ought to make sure a regular dermatology exam is on your medical radar screens.  I say that at the very moment my face is peeling from broiling in the sun this past weekend on the golf course and the bike even though sunscreen was applied and re-applied.  There’s probably more to protection than wearing hats and lotions.  Since this runs in the family, please make sure you get checked out at least once a year.  That’s why you have insurance.

Had a brief scare last week on my situation that had me hustle back into the doctor’s office for a few hours but all is well.  Just part of the healing process, so there’s not much else to report on that score.

Not much new on your grandmother’s situation.  Still in Wood River, still getting by.  Her health seems to have evened out as of late although it appears she will make the move to a Veteran’s Administration facility because it’s simply less expensive.

My workouts to get ready for the Bridger have started.  After a couple of minutes on the elliptical machine, it became very clear that whatever was gained over the years has been completely lost.  It means essentially starting over from scratch, but there are about 7 weeks for me to try to regain some level of fitness.  We arrive in Jackson Hole on Thursday, July 21 and head back to Charlotte on July 28th, if memory serves me correctly.  Lots of planning to get down before the trip goes down.

Okay, guys, have a good start to your summers, stay in touch (that means you, Reid) and wear your sunscreen.  Hope to see you sooner than later.  Keep your Thanksgiving plans open.

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