A Plea for Help

By Mike Powers

My friends, you’ve often read my stories about how woefully inadequate prison healthcare is. And I’ve introduced you to friends of mine, some of them no longer living, who have had to endure the most miserable of conditions simply in order to seek survival. The worst of these stories have generally involved inmates with cancer and how hard it is to fight it from in here. Today, I bring you a story that hasn’t ended yet. The outcome is still to be determined, and for once, you have it in your power lo help save a man’s life.

I met my friend, Bradley Shane Duncan, shortly after he came to the Diboll Unit last year, and it is rare that I’ve enjoyed the company of someone with a bigger heart during my long incarceration. His scary, biker-dude looks belie a wonderful sense of humor and a basic care for the well-being of others that you don’t often see behind bars. In other words, his is a life worth fighting for.

About a month ago, he asked me to take a look at a lump on the side of his neck. He told me that for about three weeks prior to that, he’d noticed what he thought was just a zit or some kind of skin blemish. However, the bump had grown rapidly in such a short amount of time, and he was worried about it. I couldn’t see anything on his skin, but it was easy to feel the lump, and given what I knew about his history of tobacco use, I told him I thought he should go see a doctor. At first, he was noncommittal, but I told him the story of another friend, Ray, who had throat cancer and ended up speaking with an electronic device after they removed his voice box. Shane knew exactly what I was talking about, because he’d known someone in the same condition, and picturing that fellow in his mind convinced him to go see the doctor.

A few days later, he was let in to see the unit’s nurse practitioner. That was on a Thursday. After looking at his neck and feeling the lump, she scheduled for emergency transport to Galveston the next day. Strangely, he wasn’t told he was on chain that night, even though he’d packed up. We thought he’d leave on Monday, but the NP was true to her word. At around 10 AM, Shane was called to the picket and told to get ready for transport. Any ex-con can tell you this type of chain is extremely rare, and when it happened to Shane, it was obvious lo us all that the NP felt the medical situation was urgent.

Because of the way medical chain works, Shane was not taken to the hospital on Friday, but had to spend the weekend at the Byrd Unit in Huntsville. Monday, he was taken to John Seely Hospital in Galveston and saw several providers- at least two interns and a specialist. Now, when Shane left, the NP told him he was being sent to “get that thing cut out.” The UTMB doctors had other plans, it seems. Shane was told he would be scheduled next month for an MRI. Shane made sure the doctor understood that he was having trouble swallowing and even breathing at times. He asked, “What do I do if this thing starts to cut off my air?” The doctor quipped, “Well, you’ll come back and see us then.” Yeah, right.

Here’s where you come in. I’ve never tried to take advantage of this blog in any way for personal gain, but today, I must ask you to help me get my friend, Shane, the medical care he needs immediately, because any kind of cancer is nothing to play with, but rapid growing tumors around the lymph nodes are especially dangerous, and they don’t seem to have the same urgency I imagine they’d exercise if their own health was at stake.

If you are reading this and can help, please call the Ombudsman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at (936) 437-6791. Tell him you are a friend of Bradley Shane Duncan, and ths.t you want his medical issues addressed immediately, before it’s too late to address them at all. If you don’t feel like the response is satisfactory, I urge you to contact your Texas State Representative and State Senator. I assure you that your voice will be heard and it will make a difference. His TDCJ number is 2070163.

The simple fact of the matter is that no matter how soon or long it takes to get Shane help, he has a hard road to travel. If he is scheduled for chemo, which is highly likely in the event of cancer, he will be making trips back and forth on the chain bus perhaps weekly. These trips by themselves are exhausting and verge on brutality. It will be tempting for him to give up the fight thinking that even death would be better than another trip on the medical chain, and I assure you I don’t exaggerate.

In light of this, you can also make a difference by writing letters or sending notes of encouragement to my friend. His address follows at the end of the story.

Readers, this is not just about one man’s fight against a disease or a system that has grown fat and careless with waste. The doctors cared nothing for the personal expense Shane took in making the trip, and they care nothing for the expense to you, the taxpayer, in fueling the busses or staffing them with guards and drivers for a wasted trip. These happen hundreds, if not thousands, of times every day. The whole system is a tragic act of insanity that desperately needs to be stopped and refurbished from top to bottom. None of you would long tolerate a trip to the doctor that automatically takes three days, nor should you. Please join my friend in his fight for life.

Bradley Shane Duncan

#2070163 Diboll Unit

  1. S. First Street

Diboll, TX 75941

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez