Skin Diaries This is Brave

This is Brave: Brian McKenna

Chal·lenge

“A call to fight, as in a battle, a duel, etc.“

It was the spring of 2014. I remember my doctor escorted me past the examining room, straight back to his office, where he closed the door behind me. I may not be a card-carrying member of Mensa International, but I knew something was up. He opened his laptop and started explaining the results from the biopsy he’d taken from my body three weeks prior. Unfortunately, I read three paragraphs ahead of my doctor, and scanned two words that took my breath away, “malignant melanoma”.

I didn’t hear anything he said after reading that.

Fast forward to February 2017. I was diagnosed with a very rare, infiltrating, aggressive basal cell cancer, whose “fingers” wrapped around the nerves in my face and were headed towards my brain. To make matters worse, it metastasized over my entire body. In addition to the aggressive basal cell cancer, melanoma was found on my back. Cancer had challenged me to a fight.

I accepted the challenge.  I wasn’t going to fight cancer, cancer was going to fight me! Instead of “why me,” I embraced “try me” and braced myself for the fight of a lifetime.

In life, you can be the bug or the windshield. I challenged myself to be the windshield. I also challenged myself to share my cancer journey openly, utilizing my public image as a former radio/tv personality, to help bring awareness to skin cancer prevention. I challenged myself to be a loud voice in St. Louis, Missouri, to raise money for skin cancer research with the hope that one day we find a cure.

After nine surgeries in the last 13 months (including a 9+ hour facial reconstruction), over 400 stitches, radiation, chemo, physical therapy and occupational therapy, I’m here to tell you that I am on the road to recovery.

I challenge all of you to be kind, stay humble, do more than is expected, give more than you take, dream big, make a difference in this world and GET REGULAR SKIN CHECK-UPS! Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe!

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5 Comments

  • Abby Muller

    Thank you for sharing your story! I visit the dermatologist twice a year for a body scan and wear sunscreen daily and hats on sunny days!

    • Brian McKenna

      Abby, Thank you so much for the kind words and the great advice. 😘

  • Gerry Appelbaum

    Brian: You motivate me to be a better man. Lisa sent this to me, and it is great to see you winning the battle. You were a great guy in college and I miss seeing you and Kevin. Let me know if you ever need anything.

  • Maureen Avouris

    Hi Brian !
    Love reading about your personal journey and the challenges you’ve faced with cancer over the last 4 years. Your eyes are still as bright as ever and not even cancer could stop that smile ! So happy to hear you’re on the recovery road ! Prayers continuing… Cause, even with the BEST DOCS @ Wash. U. / BJC ~ it never hurts to stack the deck! SO happy for you.
    ❤️ Maureen

  • Sharon Harrison

    Hi Brian,
    I saw the news on the tribute that your friends gave you which is well deserved.
    I can relate to what you have been thru. In July 2001 I was diagnosed with melanoma on the left side of my neck, did a partial neck dissection and all lymph nodes were benign so they thought I didn’t think I needed to do any chemo. In September 2002 it had come back in my neck, had a racial neck dissection and I started a treatment for the first month of interferon 5 days a week and then gave myself 3 shots a week for 11 months and had 6 weeks of radiation. Thought things were going well until a month after I was done with the interferon I felt a lump in my left breast, my melanoma had metastasized to my left breast and had 5 small spots on my liver, 2 days before Christmas 2003 I had a mastectomy and started oral chemo for 5 days a week and then off for 3 weeks. I am happy to say I have been in remission since November 2004. I have skin checks every 6 months and have had a few Moh’s surgery. Just wanted to share my story with you to tell you there is Hope, a positive attitude is 99.9% of getting thru it all. When I was diagnosed I told by myself I was going to beat it and I am here to enjoy my family and friends. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May God Bless You!
    Sharon

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