Fred O. DeBruhl, Jr.
My dear, sweet, and only Brother, Fred, lost his battle with melanoma, two days before Thanksgiving, Nov 21, 2007. Fred had several skin cancers removed in 2006 and was checked by his doctor often. In July of 2006, at the beach, he showed me small, jelly bean size lump on his neck. Knowing the possibility that it might be melanoma, he was encouraged to get it checked asap. He did and the biopsy revealed melanoma. He was scheduled for a lumpectomy, in Nov, where 30 lymph nodes were removed. Melanoma was found in three and his thyroid was also cancerous. All went well for the next few months until a PET scan in February 07 revealed the disturbing news, “metastic melanoma”.
On Feb 14th, I happened to be with him at his appt where he was scheduled to have a small lump removed from his shoulder. During this appt, his doctor retrieved his latest PET scan performed the previous day. We were told the melanoma has spread to his liver and spinal column and that he had 6 months to live. In shock and disbelief, we left the doctors office, and both broke down outside in the parking lot. Being the oldest sister, I immediately went in to overdrive, emailing, calling and searching for any info I could find. Any trials, new treatments, etc. The drawback was, Fred had a kidney transplant 20 years earlier which kept him from participating. A family vacation was planned and we took a cruise to the Caribbean. We had a blast, and I have never seen my Brother so happy and full of hope. During the next several months, Fred went through oral and intravenous chemo, 15 rounds of radiation, and cyberknife on his brain which is where the melanoma ultimately took its toll. MRI’s and PET scans kept documenting the progress of the melanoma, and our hopes dimmed. He lost the ability to walk, his eye sight deteriorated, and his memory was fading fast.
Fred reached his 40th birthday on Oct 29th, 2007. We celebrated the day, with the family in Gatlinburg, TN. We pushed Fred all around town, and had a fabulous time and were in Gatlinburg 7 hours. Fred said he didn’t want to go home. The next day, Fred took a turn for the worse and we rushed to the doctors office and on to the hospital. Tests revealed melanoma in the spinal fluid and multiple lesions on his brain. On 11/1/07, Fred was out of options. Hospice was ordered and we took him home. He passed away 11/21/07.
Teresa lost a husband, our family lost, a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew, and lots of people lost a dear friend. Fred battled melanoma with a positive attitude, grace and courage. He rarely complained and was upbeat till the very end. He was loving, kind and gentle. Fred was always available to help any one, any time. His absence is felt every day. His strong faith carried him through and is carrying our family and friends through now. Fred is in a better place and sick no more. I have hope we will see each other again. Melanoma is an aggressive cancer and shows no mercy. Wear sunscreen, have skin check ups, and those taking immunosuppressive drugs are at a greater risk for melanoma.
I miss my Brother.