The Liberty Gazette
June 7, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Here it is, our deadline to send in some mix of the alphabet that we hope will tell an interesting story from the world of aviation. It just so happens I’m filling out a questionnaire right now too which I just received from a pilot friend who’s writing a book on “why we fly.” And somehow, it’s all related to breast cancer and poison ivy. I’ll explain.
I first met Dr. Suzanne Braddock as a competitor in last year’s Air Race Classic. Dr. Braddock, or Suz as she prefers, entered her Bonanza in the air race. It was her first air race. My race partner of last year is also a physician, Dr. Liza Kummer, an internist from Dallas. It seems this is the time of year that poison ivy begins its most potent attacks on me. Last year was the second of three Air Race Classics that I started the race covered in poison ivy blisters. Liza and I had just met Suz at the arrival hangar party in Fort Myers, Florida, and the two doctors consulted about the itchy rash that was driving me crazy and creeping towards my eyes. The oral medications were not on the FAA’s list of acceptable meds for flying, so I would have to rely on topical creams, and stay out of the Florida sun.
Not only did Liza and Suz have flying and doctoring in common, but each had battled breast cancer, so the two had much to talk about. When Suz received her diagnosis 19 years ago she discovered there was little to no help on what to expect. She’s a dermatologist, not a cancer doctor, so like other patients she did not know what lay ahead. What would happen to her? What would she look like after surgery? What would treatment be like? Unable to find any quick reference books to answer her pressing questions, disappointment growing as she searched for help, she determined to write a book of her own. Out of her fight has come, “Straight Talk About Breast Cancer: From Diagnosis to Recovery: A Guide for the Entire Family.” Her book is a guide for the whole family affected by breast cancer. It’s easy reading and includes inspirational messages from breast cancer survivors, and probably one of the most important features, eight pages of breast reconstruction photos to answer those pressing questions about what it’s really going to be like; straight talk.
Using her own experiences to help others, Suz says this book has been the most satisfying effort of her life. She updates the content every year or so as new information comes out, and all money received that’s not spent printing more copies goes to help breast cancer survivors. With over 100,000 copies sold, Suz hears from many women whom it has helped cope with the diagnosis.
Ironically, as I write my responses to Suz’s questionnaire for her next book, my experiences learning to fly, thoughts and opinions on aviation, and adventures since earning a pilot license, I am once again finding little poison ivy blisters popping up, and it’s just two weeks to the start of the 2011 Air Race Classic. But this time, thanks to Suz and Liza, my two air racing chick doctor friends, I have the cream that will stop the itch dead in its tracks. I’m ready to go racing.