Bradley Xavier Downs
Bradley’s melanoma started on the back of his leg, in a blood blister where his hockey skate rubbed against his calf. He didn’t think anything of it, and didn’t worry about the swelling in his groin area, from another hockey injury received during the same game. Apparently, the cancer set in at the blister site and moved up to the injured groin, which had been scanned and declared harmless by imaging techs. By the time he got to a doctor who noticed the blood blister and expressed concern, years had gone by and my brother was not feeling well. A diagnosis of malignant melanoma came in April 2008. He quickly fell into a vortex of surgeries and treatments, a regimen of doctor’s visits and medications. In April 2009 he achieved his life-long dream of becoming a father and that role – not the uglier role of cancer patient – would define the rest of his life. At his daughter’s one-year birthday party, he described the preceding year as “the best year of my life” despite no longer being able to work, always being in pain, spending much of his time in the hospital, and losing his home and all he had worked for. He fought for every last minute so he could be with his daughter and never gave up despite the intense suffering. Sadly, I see that many others share in the pain our family has gone through. If there is a message we would want to share from our experience, it would be to have any unhealed injuries checked out thoroughly, and if you are not satisfied with an answer, push, push, push for a more comprehensive answer. We all have to take responsibility for our own health and well-being.