By Jill Fox
Chris Bradley has been a dedicated firefighter paramedic for over 12 years as well as instructing paramedic and EMT classes in Coral Springs. At just 35-years-old, Chris has already beat cancer once, but after another diagnosis, the community is offering their help.
In 2012, while working for the Green Acres Fire Department, Chris was diagnosed with late stage melanoma in a mole on his back. Although the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, a combination of radiation and interferon treatments were effective, leaving him in remission for six years.
After a series of repeat scans, Chris has been healthy until now. Normally, the Martin County fireman is very active, running between both of his jobs, from the Coral Springs Regional Institute of Public Safety to his home in Royal Palm. But, following complaints of headaches, having trouble pulling up his bunker gear, and acting strangely around his unit, he checked into the hospital on March 3.
Doctors immediately discovered a mass of melanoma in his brain and were able to surgically remove it the very next day. Chris’s wife, Kara said that doctors wanted to work fast because of his history and they needed to be aggressive because it was in the brain.
Fortunately, Chris is expected to make a full recovery however, over the next few months, he will need to undergo further scans, testing and treatments to beat cancer once again. Because her husband can’t be left alone, Kara will probably take a leave from her teaching position in the Palm Beach County School District.
Working full-time as a first grade teacher as well as being mom to Emma, 2, and Jackson 7 months, Kara said although members of the community have been providing support, such as setting up a meal train for the family, their upcoming treatment schedule will likely take a toll on the family.
“We are just trying to keep our family together and make things as normal as possible for our kids,” said Kara.
Coral Springs Division Chief Robert McGilloway said since Chris has joined their team two years ago as a result of a program with Martin County Fire Rescue, he has been a phenomenal asset.
“Chris teaches in all EMT and paramedic classes, and his evaluations from the students show him to be a leader and professional that most aspire to be,” said McGilloway.
Kevin Sullivan, a lead instructor for the paramedic program and a captain with the Coral Springs Fire Department said that he and Chris often teach paramedic classes together at the academy, he’s a valuable asset and the students love him. He said at the academy, they encourage students to give back to the community in any way they can.
“Right now, my class is racking their brains to try to figure out what they can do to help Chris’s family,” said Sullivan.
Kara is thankful for the support of the fire chiefs and the community reaching out trying to help. A GoFundMe campaign was created by Rick Sterl, the union representative for Martin County Fire Rescue, to assist Bradley’s family while he continues to fight cancer.
McGilloway said the department is saddened by the news and will support Chris and his family during this time. They look forward to having him happy and healthy in the near future.
In the days ahead, Chris will most likely begin radiation and meet with his oncologist to come up with a plan for his chemotherapy treatment.
Kara said, “We really don’t know what the future holds. We are just taking it one day at a time and taking all the support that we can.”
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.