Summertime (Part 3)—Pride and Joy

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.

Brain MRI

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.


Advocacy Recognition

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

Doctor Doctor, Gimme the News

July 6, 2020 – I finished the last of my scheduled doctor’s appointment this afternoon – annual physical. Everything was fine according to my internist. I’ve been with this same doctor for perhaps 25 years. He knows as much about my health as I do. After last year’s physical he joked, “You’re the healthiest guy with cancer, who had a heart attack, I’ve ever seen.”

Based on the numbers from this year’s blood tests and urinalysis, I hope that comment remains true.

Appointments, Appointments, Appointments

At least it’s clean.

Because of COVID-19, I waited until June to follow-up with most of my doctors. In the past thirty days, I saw just about everyone: cardiologist, urologist, orthopedist, dermatologist, oncologist (we’ll get to that in a moment), and even the dentist (no cavities!). All of these visits we’re either annual checkups, routine appointments, or quickly scheduled due to an issue that came up. I saw my orthopedist after I over did it with exercise, yard work, and pressure washing the back patio.

Note: The patio’s now clean, but I was in some serious back and muscle pain for about a week.

Metastatic Melanoma
In early June I had my scheduled CT scan and doctor’s appointment at the West Cancer Center. As I mentioned previously (see Status Quo and An Early Christmas Gift), I am now scanned about every six (6) months because my tumors remain stable and (for the most part) unchanged. June’s CT results were pretty much the same. Nothing – in my lungs – has changed.

Now For Something Completely Different
There was, however, something completely unexpected on the scan results. A fairly large mass – about 2 1/2 inches – on or around my right adrenal gland. The adrenal gland sits on top of each kidney. The radiology oncologist called it a heterogeneous mainly low density mass. Basically, it looks like I had some internal bleeding either in or around my adrenal gland.

Between chemotherapy meds, blood thinners (to help keep the stent in my heart working), and everything else I’ve been through, it’s hard to know what caused this mass.

Modern-day Torture Device

You never know what’s
lurking inside.

My oncologist scheduled an MRI to get a better look. If you’ve never had an MRI, it’s very strange and a bit nerve-racking. The MRI machine is claustrophobic and loud. And weird…I swear I could feel the magnetic force going through my midsection. Yuck!

Unfortunately, the MRI didn’t provide any new clues as to what’s going on inside me. The concern is that this blood mass may be hiding a cancerous tumor (or, the mass was caused by a cancerous tumor). The size has not changed, and I’m not in any pain.

At the end of July, I’ll have another CT scan to see if anything’s changed. Then, the doctors and I will figure out what the next steps will be.

Possibly another twist in my melanoma journey. More to come…

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Writer’s Note – I’ll continue to update my blog on a periodic basis. No set schedule. So, I want to thank everyone who continues to stop by and check out my blog. Please leave a comment or message; I’d love to hear from you.