Writer’s Note—This entry is the third in a three-part series entitled Summertime, based on that classic song from the musical Porgy and Bess. If you’ve never heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version of this song, you should.
Late Summer 2021—The radiology technician led me into the MRI room. As I entered, she told me to place my things on a nearby chair and to make certain nothing was in my pockets. After I had placed my phone and keys on the chair, the tech asked, “What music do you want to hear?”
“I get a choice?” I responded.
“Sure,” she said. “We now have music options—pop, classical, rock, mainstream….Pretty much anything you want.”
“Yep, we have a blues channel.”
Never hurts to ask.
Today’s scheduled MRI was to take a look at my brain. (Insert missing brain joke here.) My new oncologist (see Summertime Part 1) wanted to make sure there was no melanoma lurking somewhere inside my noggin. Apparently, some immunotherapy medicines may not—on their own—do a good job preventing or treating brain metastases. Unfortunately, the brain is one spot where melanoma is likely to spread.
If you’ve ever received an MRI scan, then you know it is a weird, uncomfortable, and loud experience. To help with the noise, patients are often given headphone-style hearing protectors (think airline baggage handlers). While this helps, somewhat, the weird sounds are still disconcerting. Sometime in 2020, the West Cancer Center started piping music into the headphones to counteract the noise. You did not, however, get a choice of the music. Most of it was mainstream pop or easy listening.
Celine Dion or the metallic grinding and screeching of the MRI? I’ll take the grinding.
Situated inside the MRI, headphones on my ears, the technician told me the music would begin, shortly.
Distinct guitar licks permeated my headphones. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Pride and Joy.
Unfortunately, the grinding and screeching started right after. A little Stevie. I little screeching. More Stevie. More grinding.
Oh, well. At least it wasn’t Celine.
An hour or so later, we were with my oncologist. The MRI results showed no unusual spots, or lesions, but did, in fact, show a mass of brain matter inside my head. Once again, relieved that we cleared another melanoma hurdle, we made are way upstairs for my scheduled infusion.
In late August, I received a huge honor for recognition of my advocacy work. I’ve previously mentioned the many organizations and programs I have worked with over the past several years. One program that has meant a lot to me is the Melanoma Research Program (MRP) that is part of the Defense Department’s CDMRP initiative. The cutting-edge research funded by the CDMRP may save thousands of lives in the future. It is a privilege to be a small part of this program.
So, when I found out earlier in the summer that I would be profiled by the CDMRP, I was ecstatic. Humbled. Thankful. Honored.
Summer of 2021 certainly had its share of ups and downs. I’ll take both if it means I can keep on keepin’ on. I’ll leave you with another set of Ella’s lyrics from Summertime. Thanks, as always, for listening.
One of these mornings
You’re gonna rise up singing
Yes you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning
There ain’t nothin’ can harm you