Man tackles melanoma close to home
Francis “Frank” Lee Pruette, 75, melanoma survivor, Piedmont Medical Center
For years, Frank Pruette, 75, had been living with a spot on his back. Despite not being able to see it himself, he had pointed it out to his primary care physician who told him to monitor it, but if it didn’t hurt, not to bother it.
In the fall of 2014, it began to hurt.
His granddaughter Marissa is a nurse at Piedmont Medical Center, so his wife snapped a picture of the spot and passed it on to her. She took one look at it and had her grandfather in the doctor’s office that same day.
“They diagnosed it as melanoma cancer, and they told me I had to go to Charlotte to the doctor, but my wife said ‘No, he isn’t. We have the best doctors in the Southeast here,” Frank says. “And she got me an appointment with Dr. Espinal.
Four days after that appointment, Frank had surgery to remove the spot, along with three lymph nodes. The procedure left him with a hole in his back that required patching with skin from his leg. Fortunately, they were able to get everything so Frank did not have to go through chemotherapy or radiation.
“I saw the doctor every week and my granddaughter, who is a nurse, dressed it every day for me,” he says.
Dealing with diagnosis
Despite his former life as a professional baseball player - and current softball player for his church –Frank had never considered himself high risk for melanoma because he was always sure to cover up when outside, even as a child. An avid outdoorsman, hunter and bird enthusiast who raises parakeets, doves, finches, cockatiels and pigeons, he was never without sleeves in the sun.
“We always wore hats and long sleeves when we worked in the yard,” he says. “City people take their clothes off, country people wear clothes. I never went out without my shirt. I always wore something long.”
Still, he knows how lucky he is to have found the melanoma when he did –and so does his wife, with whom he has four children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“When Dr. Espinal called us in there and explained to me all that was going to take place and what could happen, I started bawling,” his wife says. “And then after the surgery when the nurse called to tell me that my husband is fine and it was all negative, I praised the Lord, and thanked God for every doctor and thanked God for Dr. Espinal. I thank God for Piedmont Medical Center.”