Brad Blahna

First post: Apr 3, 2020 Latest post: Apr 15, 2021

Welcome to Brad’s CaringBridge website.  We created this site to keep family and friends easily updated in one place.  We truly appreciate your support, kind words of encouragement, and prayers.  We do not wish to replace CaringBridge with personal connections and efforts to reach out to both of my parents, Brad and Pam.  Now more than ever, your personal texts, emails, and phone calls will continue to lift them up.  Thank you for your support and for visiting. (Story written by daughter, Melissa)

If you know Brad personally, he is surely one of the nicest men you know.  If you are here supporting Brad’s loved ones, I can tell you without a doubt that he is incredibly selfless, giving, caring, kind, hard-working, and extremely loyal.  He is truly much loved by all who know him, especially his wife and family, children, Chris (Alissa) & Melissa (Will), and all of his grandchildren and grand-dogs.  My Mom (Pam) and Dad will be celebrating 49 years of marriage this June and are a shining example of love!!!  Brad spent most of his career working in the beverage industry and retired as a Director of Operations at Wirtz Beverage (formally Mark VII), where he had worked for over 30 years.  Brad and Pam delight in traveling frequently, spending time at their cabin in Crosslake, going for long walks, boating and exploring lakes, and relish in a very active social life.  Additionally, Brad is an avid golfer, enjoys kayaking and biking, and was an active member at the YMCA (until his back pain restricted his activities).

Brad’s life has been full of ups and downs over the past four months.  As you may know, Brad fainted and had a bad fall on December 3rd.  He fractured 7 ribs and punctured his lung.  His doctors determined his fainting was caused by his heart rate dropping severely low.  He had a pacemaker put in to control his recently diagnosed tachy brady heart syndrome.  Back pain bothered him while he was recovering in December and January, however he is accustomed to having back pain due to his crushed vertebrae which happened in a snowmobiling accident about 2 decades ago.  Brad’s doctors were impressed at how well he made strides towards recovering and attributed it to his fit and healthy lifestyle.  We were blessed to be able to celebrate and spend a lovely Christmas together.  He made so much progress, that he and Pam were able to vacation in Mexico in January as planned.  He took great care, avoided golfing, was cautious, and took protective measures in the sun (just as he has done ever since his Melanoma Cancer diagnosis and removal in 2013).  Brad and Pam had a wonderful time and cherished some much-needed relaxation in Puerto Vallarta, making fantastic memories with many of their friends and family.

They came back home to MN for a couple of weeks, and enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and seeing their grandkids playing various sports and activities, before they left for Arizona.  They rented a townhouse in Arizona again this year from mid-February through mid-April, where they were looking forward to enjoying the weather and the company of many family and friends.  As they were on their long drive down to Arizona beginning on February 13, Brad noticed some intense back pain.  Once they arrived in AZ, he had it checked multiple times at urgent care clinics.  After X-ray results of his back came back normal, he was given pain medication and muscle relaxers.  Unfortunately, the pain continued to become more severe and he sought out a referral to a spine clinic.  At that time, they set up an MRI appointment.  However, due to extenuating circumstances with his pace maker, he had to wait a month for the appointment for the MRI which was scheduled for March 17.  In the meantime, as the pain became more unbearable, he was able to get a cortisone injection in effort to relieve some of his pain. After the MRI, he received the results two days later which showed a tumor in his chest and two metastatic bone cancer lesions in his lower back.  Brad and Pam decided to fly back home the following day and had their vehicle and belongings shipped.

Over the past week and a half, Brad has undergone several further tests including a bone biopsy, CT, and PET scan, to determine the specific type of cancer and where it originated.  The results of the tests indicate that the cancer originated in his lung.  The oncologist estimates that the cancer began 6-12 months ago, although it was never caught or seen on Brad’s daily chest X-rays he had during his hospitalization in December.  As we already learned, the cancer metastasized to the bone.  The scans show that Brad has numerous lesions throughout his back. The cancer also spread to his femur and pelvis.  On the bright side, it has not spread to any other organs.

As for next steps, the oncologist has advised Brad to have an MRI of his head to make sure it is clear of any lesions.  In addition, Brad has another biopsy scheduled for the mass in his lung.  The biopsy will determine whether the lung cancer has a PD-L1 mutation of 50% or more.  If the biopsy is favorable to that, he will qualify for immunotherapy as a first resort for treatment.  If it is not, then the treatment will begin with chemotherapy and radiation.  The oncologist has explained that his cancer is not curable, but it can be managed and there are treatments to stop it from further spreading.  The way in which Brad’s body responds to the treatment will determine whether this will be a chronic disease or a terminal disease.  We are hoping and praying for favorable results with these upcoming tests. My Dad is strong, also known as Bad Ass Brad 😊 (initials being BAB). He is a melanoma cancer survivor, and has successfully fought and overcome other serious health issues. We know he has an army of amazing supporters behind him.

On a personal note, there is never a good time for such a diagnosis. It has presented many further challenges during a global pandemic.  Brad and Pam must be extremely vigilant during this time.  Understandably, Brad must attend most of his appointments alone in an effort to protect all immunosuppressed cancer patients.  I long to hug and spend time with my parents.  We are doing our best to stay connected through phone calls, facetime, and Zoom, and to see each other outside while keeping our distance.  I hope you all are faring well during this difficult time.  We have all had our lives turned completely upside down these past couple of weeks, and I am praying for peace, comfort, and good health for all.

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