Comment number 41 of Larry Altman's article in tuesdays Science Times was indeed intriguing, claiming that the father-in-law of the commentor, David Greenspan of Madison, Wisconsin, had a slide of "Roosevelt's mole".
Of course this led to an immediate search to find "number 41". Within an hour I was on the phone with him, a very knowledgable and amiable medical scientist at the University of Wisconsin. He told me his ex-wife, a pediatrician living in Conneticut was in possession of the slide and gave me her phone number.
Shortly afterwards I was on the phone with the daughter of Dr. Richard Berlin, who had done a year in patholgy at Bethesda and gone on to a career as surgeon, dying in 1993. Prior to death, Dr. Berlin gifted his "prize possesion" to his daughter.
She initially told me it was from the lesion above Roosevelt's left eye and that it was not cancerous. She than said she'd call me in a few days when she located it. 5 minutes later she called back with the news that she had found it.
It was labeled "John Doe" and "Bethesda Naval Medical Center" and dated February 2, 1944. Dr Berlin had annotated it "Frank Delano Roosevelt, Epidermoid Cyst".
Thanks to the letter from William Webster, the primary surgeon for the procedure (removal of a cyst the size of a hen's egg fron the back of FDR's head), on page 82 of Harry Goldsmith's book, it became immediately evident that it was indeed an artifact of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an authentic piece of the "wen" which Dr. Webster wrote was sent to the pathology lab, where the young Dr. Berlin was waiting. He took a specimen of the biopsy and, as they say, the rest is history!
To my knowledge this is the only authentic specimen of FDR known. Obviously, the holy grail would be a be a similarly documented piece of the the pigmented lesion (which I obviously believe will document malignancy). Since the "wen" became a public event, commented upon by FDR in a news conference shortly after the procedure and discussed quite openly in Daisy Suckley's diary, the level of security may have been a bit lax. I doubt that any biopsy of the melanoma would have had any similar opportunity to surface.
There are only two other stories of specimens. One, from Hugh L'Etang's second, less widely circulated book is that pathologist William Ober (of Teaneck New Jersey where Eric now lives,btw) saw a specimen and reported to L'Etang that it was a seborrheic keratosis, a benign lesion.
The other, more intriguing, report appears on the Dr. Zebra website, mentioning that Dr. Philip Kousoubris a radiologist at the Lahey Clinic was told by "an older physician" who was a pathology resident in the early 1940's that he was present when a slide of Roosevelt's pigmented lesion showed a malignancy and was immediately confiscated by the FBI and it is presently housed in a safe in a Newton Massachusetts law firm!
That physician is still alive and when Dr. Kousoubris approached him again, the senior pathologist told him that he would not discuss it any further and that was that! Phil has given me his name but it is probably best to let him continue to work privately to get the information.
Incidentally, Phil is my connection at Lahey. His efforts to get a CME program for me there has met with curious resistance (whether thus is related or not, the director if the Tufts University Foundation that runs the clinic is none other than James Roosevelt, Jr.).
I am personally convinced that FDR had a surreptitous surgery at Lahey in the winter of 1943-44 as exquisitely documented in Harry Goldsmith's book. Harry, who I speak with regularly, told me that his source is absolutely reliable, not to mention that Linda Strand, Lahey's "gumad" for lack of a better term, told Harry that she met FDR at Lahey Clinic while he was there under an assumed name and that she had made all the arrangements! This incident, which I have personally discussed at length with Harry, is an incredibly important piece information. perhaps the most important line in Harry's self-published book, A Conspiracy of Silence, available on Amazon and an indispensible source for anyone seriously interested in FDR's health (by the way, If anyone want's to talk to Harry, contact me and I will give you his contact information).
To add fuel to the fire, I just had a most amazing conversation with Dr. Ruben Oropeza, a close associate of Dr. George Pack, the greatest melanoma surgeon of the early part of the twentieth century, for eight years (1959-1967, Pack died in 1969). Dr Oropeza, whose credibility has been testified to me by an eminent NYC plastic surgeon, told me that Lahey assisted Pack himself in an operation on FDR's melanoma in Boston, at that the operation was performed at 5AM. Dr Oropeza has not read Dr Goldsmith's book and was unaware of the information in it, essentially an independent confirmation of something that probably occurred. Oropeza told me of many things, including news of a second operation involving another prominent surgeon and Pack, related to Oropeza by Pack himself. More on that later, we are in the process of trying to independently confirm this story from relatives and associates of the other surgeon, a very big name indeed.
If there is any chance to to find medical records of FDR's cancer, I believe the best chance is at Lahey, but, to this point, they have been absolutely stone silent. Oropeza also told me that Pack told him that "the records will not come out for 100 years". Should that be the case, I will be 96 years old. I really don't want to wait that long!
(my girlfriend reminded me after reading this that you might know what a "wen" is. It is a benign (non-cancerous) cyst which in this case was allegedly removed because it was bothering FDR when he wore a hat. sl