Cancer Survivor beats the odds: Chuck Obeso-Bradley
A lot of people in Chuck Obeso-Bradley's family have had cancer. But in most cases, they could blame fair skin and too much unprotected sun exposure as the culprits, and he could, too. Nearly a scratch golfer, Obeso-Bradley had seen more than his fair share of sun damage. He had resolved a stage 2 melanoma 25 years ago and staved off recurrence with early intervention ever since. Otherwise, at 53, he was healthy.
Until Dr. Steven Vetter noticed a sizable lump on his neck. Vetter thought it was cancer, a large tumor that came from the tonsil and had already spread to the lymph nodes. "I was devastated," Obeso-Bradley says, "but I said, ‘Do what you need to do, tell me what I need to do, and we'll get through this.' I really credit Dr. Vetter with my survival."
Obeso-Bradley underwent a five-hour operation, emerging with a scar running from just below his right ear to the middle of his chin and down his neck to his right shoulder. But looking in the mirror post-surgery, he realized that health is a beautiful thing. "Early on," says Obeso-Bradley, "the survivability rate I heard wasn't the best. The day they gave me the percentage, it was, once again, devastating. But I told Dr. Vetter, "‘You can write it in our calendar; I'm going to beat this thing.'" Obeso-Bradley recovered in the hospital for the better part of a week. The second night after his surgery, he roamed the halls, sleepless.
"I came upon a cancer display about meetings and support groups," he says. "Next to it was an artist's canvas covered with beautifully colored handprints of cancer survivors. Recorded next to the hands were people's names and how long they've survived. That meant a lot to me." Two months later, Obeso-Bradley pressed his own palm into vivid red paint and left his print, hoping that someday someone else would come upon this vibrant message of hope and survival and receive the same comfort.
Obeso-Bradley's final radiation session was August 17, 2007. His doctors told him he would be considered 90-percent cured if he made it one year without a cancer recurrence. He marked the day. In the meantime, he got better, so much so that he resumed golfing - just in time for the round of his life. On April 14, he was given a guest pass to play at Pebble Beach.
"I played an even par on the front nine holes," he says. "And then, on the historic 17th hole, I hit my first hole-in-one." The only thing better was the party his family threw for him four months later, on August 17, 2008.
Learn more about Community Hospital's cancer support groups and programs.