WATCH: Cronin Skin Cancer Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary Serving Brevard County Community
By Maria Sonnenberg // October 4, 2021
Dr. Terrence A. Cronin, Sr.: We’ve saved a lot of lives and we want to continue
WATCH: The Cronin Skin Cancer Center is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary of serving this community. Dr. Terrence A.Cronin, Sr. began practice in Melbourne in 1972. He was joined by his son, Dr. Terrence A. Cronin, Jr. in 1996 and his granddaughter, Dr. Megan M. Cronin in 2020.
Three generations of Cronins take pride in providing their patients with the highest level of dermatologic care and skin cancer treatments. They are each board-certified dermatologists and diplomates of the American Board of Dermatology.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Half a century ago, back in 1972, the average price for a new house was under $28,000. The average income was $11,800. Gasoline cost a whopping 55 cents a gallon. Brevard had a population of 235,900 and dermatologists were considered a rara avis for the area.
It was the year that Dr. Terrence Cronin, Sr., came to practice in Brevard.
“I was the only dermatologist for South Brevard, treating almost the entire county,” said Dr. Cronin. “We have about 28 now.”
It took an earthquake to sell the young dermatologist on the charms of Florida. In Los Angeles, the LAC+USC Medical Center, considered one of the best in the country in the field of dermatology, was eager to keep Dr. Cronin, who had completed his residency thereafter serving in Vietnam.
Dr. Cronin thought he would indeed become a permanent resident of the Golden State, despite L.A.’s legendary smog, but an earthquake sealed the departure deal.
“We had a six-year-old and a five-year-old at the time and I didn’t want them growing up there,” said the physician.
He answered the call for a dermatologist from Dr. George Stroud, then practicing in Melbourne.
“I wanted to live near the ocean in a place where skin cancer was a problem,” he said.
He chose a perfect location.
“I came in at the beginning of the skin cancer epidemic,” he said.
Unfortunately, Dr. Stroud passed away during Dr. Cronin’s first year in Melbourne, leaving him with an extremely busy practice. Fortunately, his stint at LAC+USC, where he served as chief resident, had prepared him well.
“We did hundreds of advanced skin cancer operations there,” he said.
He would go on to do thousands more, although the local surgeons at the time were not pleased.
“They thought I shouldn’t be doing surgery, that I was doing things dermatologists don’t do, and they turned me in to Medicare,” said Dr. Cronin.
“At the time, Florida dermatologists didn’t know much about skin cancer surgery.”
By the time Dr. Cronin made his case, the Medicare panel of experts who started by calling him “boy” was calling him “sir.”
“Medicare cleared me and said I had the right to proceed with advanced dermatological surgeries,” he said.
Proceeded he did, for 50 years, tending to the skin of Brevard residents by devoting his practice to skin cancer patients and foregoing other aspects and diseases of the skin. The Cronin Skin Cancer Center in Melbourne is now considered a top skin cancer treatment resource in Central Florida.
Dr. Cronin helped to launch the Florida Society of Dermatologic Surgeons, where he served as president. He continues to lecture at the Society’s annual symposiums.
After 50 years in practice, Dr. Cronin has seen cancer in just about every part of the human body, including the buttocks. Looking at the sunbathers near his Melbourne Beach home, he believes string bikinis have trounced many admonitions against sun exposure.
“There is so much skin exposed, we are going to have to operate in places we never thought of,” said Dr. Cronin.
His approach to care drew his son and granddaughter into the field of dermatology. Dr. Terrence Cronin, Jr., joined his father in the practice in 1996 after serving as chief resident at the University of Miami.
“Dad has been a fantastic role model to me and his granddaughter and instilled me with lots of insight into the medical field at a young age,” said the younger Dr. Cronin.
“His dedication to our specialty motivated me to be involved in dermatology at the national level.”
Dr. Cronin, Jr., was recently elected president-elect of the American Academy of Dermatology, which represents more than 20,000 skin specialists around the globe. He and his father have treated more than 100,000 patients with skin cancer.
“I thought I had wonderful accomplishments until my son came along,” said the proud dad, noting that his son has also served as president of the American Society for Mohs Surgery, a type of skin cancer surgery that delivers a 99 percent cure rate.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Long active on at the local, state and national level with numerous medical organizations, Dr. Cronin, Jr. earned his medical degree at The Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Following medical school, he completed his medical internship in Internal Medicine at North Carolina Baptist Hospital. He then went on to complete his residency at the University of Miami and served as chief resident for the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery.
Dr. Cronin Jr. is also an accomplished novelist, songwriter and filmmaker. He serves as program chair of the annual Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival, planned this year for Dec. 3 and 4 at Premiere Theaters Oaks 10. The festival promotes the artistic craft of filmmaking and the filmmakers themselves while also raising money for charity.
Last year, Dr. Megan Cronin, Dr. Cronin, Jr’s niece and the third generation of dermatologists in the family, joined the father-and-son team at Cronin Skin Cancer Center.
The former chief resident of the University of Miami Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery is dedicated to the lightest level of patient care for skin cancer, providing her expertise not only in skin cancer evaluations but also in Mohs surgery.
She is passionate about protecting her patients from the ravages of skin cancer and sun damage and is accepting new patients concerned with skin cancer.
A 1965 graduate of the New Jersey College of Medicine in his native Garde State, Dr. Cronin, Sr., completed his internship at Wilford Hall Air Force Base before embarking on a tour of Vietnam, where he served as a wartime physician at the MILPHAP unit in the Tan An province.
He was awarded the Bronze Star on his return and went on to complete his residency at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Department of Dermatology, where he served as chief resident.
He is 82 but looks – and acts – much younger, possibly because of the positive attitude he has always embraced.
“I have been very fortunate,” he said. “I have my original wife and my family.”
Story continued below>>>
Through the years, he has amassed an impressive collection of Haitian artworks, many of which are displayed at the riverside practice.
“My aim was to make the office look like an art museum, so patients would feel comfortable,” he said.
The bright, airy office building he designed by the banks of the Indian River does indeed reduce stress and encourage calm.
After a grateful patient willed him boxes of thousand-year-old ceramics, Dr. Cronin donated these to the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures in Cocoa Beach so more people can enjoy viewing them.
It is not surprising that patients present him with such gifts, for Dr. Cronin believes empathy enhances healing.
“He has such a terrific bedside manner and wonderful charm with people from all walks of life,” said his son.
“My dad’s greatest strength, besides his incredible knowledge base, is his charisma.”
This impressive medical triumvirate is also actively involved in teaching and mentoring medical students and residents, and serve on the faculty at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
The Cronins have also authored articles for numerous publications and have been featured speakers at countless state, national, and international dermatology conferences. Their clinical expertise includes the recognition and treatment of skin cancer and Mohs micrographic surgery.
As world-renowned experts on skin cancer, the Cronins are frequently called on by media in both the state and national arena.
The three doctors take pride in providing their patients with the highest level of dermatologic care and skin cancer treatments. They are each board-certified dermatologists and diplomates of the American Board of Dermatology.
During the spare time he has so well earned after a long and busy career, Papa Doc, as Dr. Cronin, Sr., is fondly known, enjoys life’s simple pleasures. A favorite activity is visiting his daughter’s Malabar farm.
“I go and feed the pigs,” he said.
Half a century ago, the young doctor who fled smog and earthquake would never have thought he would be establishing a dynasty of caring.
“We’ve saved a lot of lives and we want to continue,” he said.
The Cronin Skin Cancer Center is located at 1399 S. Harbor City Boulevard in Melbourne. New appointments can be made at 321-726-1711.