Buddy Russ is Back! The Story of His Tumor and the C Word
Well, we haven't talked in over a month now, but I am back on the air. I have missed everyone terribly! Where exactly have I been? Well, grab a snack, and let me tell you the story!
Six months ago, I began having severe sinus issues related to sinusitis. Basically, the drain holes in my nose were blocked, or so we thought. Fast forward to seeing the ENT here in Lake Charles. I have a CT scan and the results were "strange". Although I had a small case of sinusitis, there was a "mass" sitting in my left sinus cavity and it was a giant! My ENT in Lake Charles referred me to a specialist in Baton Rouge saying that he could probably handle the issue that seemed like a growth, but something in his gut said it could be something more than he was prepared to handle. Onward to Baton Rouge!
My Baton Rouge ENT, before we continue, is a stud! His knowledge and passion for his patients are something that you only read about in stories. I had another CT scan in Baton Rouge that morning and that afternoon he strolls in saying,
You have a Neuro Blastoma. What are you doing tonight? We need to get this thing out over there right now!
I might have attempted 5 college degrees, but I had no idea what the heck a Neuro Blastoma was, or if I should be concerned. I just assumed that it was a little tumor that had overstayed its welcome inside of my sinus cavity. His concern and drive to get it out did worry me a touch.
Me being the workaholic, and it being Christmas Party season, I said that I had two weddings and 3 Christmas parties to DJ and MC for and that we needed to wait a week for me to get those done. So we scheduled the surgery for December 29. Still, I was just thinking no big deal it's a tumor, cut it out and we are golden. I refused to google what a blastoma was, my nurse of a mother however realized shortly after my diagnosis that I had no idea what I was dealing with.
Russel, it's cancer...
Those words still ring in my brain. I've read and heard stories about people going into denial about having cancer, saying no that's not me, it's nothing. I always found that crazy to hear about. How can you hear "you've got cancer" and just deny it? Well, I heard it and I denied it! I ran right along with that next week working and just avoiding even thinking about the painful mass that was pushing on the nerves in my face. My left eye would get spotty when I would talk, my tongue and lips were numb constantly, I wasn't doing well but kept pushing.
December 28, Dad and I headed to Baton Rouge to be ready for my surgery on the 29th. We got hotel rooms so we could be at the hospital at 6 am. We ate at Applebees that night because he likes the Walker Hayes song, it was NOT fancy at all. The rooms were useless, neither of us slept the entire night. At 38, I have broken only my collar bone and only had my tonsils out when I was a small child. I don't really remember that surgery at all. So this was my first surgery and I was scared to death. I got all checked in and got the hospital gown on. They started my IV and Dad came to hang out with me as I waited to go back. When I was a kid, the rule when in a parking lot to go into a store was that you had to hold an adult's hand at all times until you got in the store. Dad's hand, like my own now, was huge so all I could manage to hold was his pinky finger at that age. As the nurse came in to tell me I was about to go back, I reached out for his hand and he stuck his pinky out almost like an instinct. That's a feeling I will never forget, and instantly my fear went away. Well, it was either that or the sedative they pushed into my IV.
A 2ish hour surgery turned into over 4. I woke up confused, but I remember taking a breath into my nose. I COULD BREATHE! It was the greatest feeling ever. I hadn't been able to breathe out of my nose in 6 months. I remember telling the nurse that was waking me up that I was so excited that I could finally breathe through my nose. She laughed at me and said she was so proud. They were trying to wake me up, but I really hadn't slept well for months, and not in a few days for sure. I told them I was cold and the next thing I know they threw these warm blankets on me. Well, I passed back out asleep for a few min before they woke me up again. I told the nurse she was being rude, and that I was trying to nap.
Fast forward a week or so, and I go into my post-op appointment. I go in thinking we are good to go. He's gonna suck out some gross things from my nose and tell me I am good to go.
So we have you scheduled next Wednesday for another surgery, we have to go back in and I need you to get an MRI.
As my doctor performed the removal of the small child growing in my face, he took samples of the areas around it. Turns out, the little tumor had decided it wanted to spread its roots around everywhere and not be a simple little benign tumor. That's when I heard the needle rip off of the record. Cancer. There was no more denying it.
We will go in and scrape away everything we can get to, and then the radiation and chemo will take care of the rest.
My simple post-op and chill appointment just turned into cancer and puke my guts up.
On to surgery number two. Two surgeries on your sinuses in three weeks is not really the ideal way to spend a month off. With my luck, I really wasn't surprised. I discovered that I HATE MRI machines mostly because I don't fit well. I had a panic attack that Monday before my surgery while in the MRI machine. I made it, but my God it was the worse experience of my life. The MRI was due to the concern that the tumor had made its way North into my brain. I get a call the night before my surgery from my doctor. I answered the phone and said,
Don't you ever ask me to get back into an MRI machine every again, because it just ain't gonna happen!
He got quiet and laughed.
So, I need you to have another MRI before your surgery tomorrow morning first thing. Although the first one is clear, we did see an area that looks questionable.
Of course, they did. Of course, I have to do it again. We made a deal that they'd give me something to take the edge off of my nerves for the next one. GOD BLESS 10mg of VALIUM! They could have buried me alive after I took that dose and I would have been just fine. Long story short, it was just a shadow on the MRI and my brain was clear from any issues. I also had them confirm that I indeed did have a brain up there, thanks Valium.
The second surgery was a bit more than the first. The pain was way more intense than before. They scraped and burned everything they could in my sinus cavities to get rid of the cancer cells. They found pitting in my ocular bones from cancer eating at it, but it was all taken out just in time. They got everything except for the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone. Basically, that's a piece of bone that separates your sinus cavity from your brain. It's super thin and fragile. If they were to scrape on it, there's a risk of breaking it and your brain then leaks into your sinus cavity. So what do you do? Radiation and Chemotherapy.
That's where our story ends for now. My next step is to go through 6 weeks of chemo and radiation therapy. They tell me that it won't be that bad like some people think when you hear those words. I am not downplaying the issues or cancer, but I still refuse to let it scare me. I am going to make a ton of jokes about it. I know there are way worse cases out there, and people are suffering way more. I am not by any means downplaying this stupid disease, but I will make fun of it and I will continue to tell my stupid cancer story. For those of you possibly going through cancer, I don't consider myself having legit cancer even though it is. I have plenty of friends who have had what I consider "legit" cancer. What I can say is this.
If you know someone with cancer or anything with their health for that matter. Talk to them, joke with them. Let them know you're thinking about them. Check on them from time to time. The internal mind has a way of defeating itself and can make you feel alone. Just let them know you're thinking about them and tell them you love them.
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