It's been quite a transformation to say the least! It's
hard to believe it's been a little over a year since this all
started. My first surgery was on 11/19/2007. Top left is a picture from January 2008.
The top middle one is from September 2008. The picture on the
top right is from January 2009. The two pictures on the
bottom are from August 2009. The rest of pictures below
here show a lot of detail about what happened in between.
Just after the 11/19/2007 operation. The big yellowish
thing is called a "skin paddle". It's an abdominal muscle
placed in my left orbit. After all the swelling goes down
radiation and chemotherapy will follow. After those
treatments, the skin paddle will be cut down to size to allow
for a prosthetic eye to be constructed.
Look at all that equipment!
There were a couple of scares during my week long stay in the
surgical intensive care unit. I partially coughed out my
breathing tube and almost had to have emergency surgery to
replace it. Another day my blood pressure got so low they couldn't even
find a vein to place an IV.
I left the hospital on 12/1/2007.
After the operation, the swelling was so extreme that my cheeks
and face were even with my ears. It's hard to say which face is
This picture shows a great view of the incision that went ear to
ear over the top of my head. The surgeons then "peeled" my
face off in order to then saw off part of my skull.
At that point they were able to remove my left eye and access the huge tumor
behind it. You can also see what's left of my eyelids eyelids stretched around the skin paddle.
This is the top view of the incision made to peel my face
off. They incision is curved to make it much harder to see
after the hair grows back.
The "skin paddle" in my eye is an abdominal muscle. The
surgeons also harvested muscle to support the skin paddle as
Skip's cheek bone was removed as well. Both my head and
belly were held together with steel surgical staples.
I also have a cancerous lymph node on the left side of my neck.
It is scheduled to be removed 4/17/08. The tumor in my
neck damaged a main artery there, so the surgeons harvested a
vein in my left leg and replaced the damaged artery in my neck
with what is called a free flap procedure.
These pictures were from early January 2008. Some swelling
has gone down, but more is needed before the radiation and
chemotherapy treatments. You can see the tumor in the left
part of my neck in the picture on the right.
This picture shows the staples in my neck after they removed 70+
lymph nodes and my sterno mastoid muscle. You can also see
the swelling in my eye is much lower and it looks far better
than when I first left the hospital. Note the hair loss
due to the radiation. This picture was taken on 4/24/2008.
This picture is also from 4/24/2008. It shows more of the
hair loss due to radiation. Most of the radiation was
focused on my left eye region, left cheek region, and left neck
region. The beams is very focused, so the radiation
doesn't affect too large of an area. My biggest problems
with the radiation and chemotherapy were extreme dryness of
mouth and nose as well as almost no energy to do more than eat
This picture is from June 2008 just before Father's Day.
You can see the bandage on my neck. I had a serious
infection in my neck at the end of May. I had to have an
operation to allow the doctors to clean it out. They kept me
in the hospital for a few
days, put me on heavy IV antibiotics and the such. You can
also see the left part of my stomach has a strange shape.
That's where the surgical hernia is. It resulted from them
using an abdominal muscle for my left orbit. My stomach
was them much weaker and subsequently developed a hernia.
It should be corrected with a surgery sometime in the future.
This is Sterling and me just before going out to eat for my 40th
birthday in July 2008. He took my picture and I took his.
We went to the Arad Evans Inn in Fayetteville, NY.
These two pictures were from 8/7/2008. I had been home
only a day or so after the 8/5/2008 surgery. The yellow
pad is where they took out excess tissue to make a cavity for my
prosthetic. The side view shows where they did the brow
lift. You can't see the staples very well as the
antibacterial ointment is so shiny. I had to keep it like
this for a week before the staples could come out. I
couldn't shower either.
These pictures were taken after the bandages were removed and I
was able to clean up. I believe the date was 8/23/2008.
On the left you can see a great view of the cavity and the
remaining pieces of eyelids. These will need to be removed
to make it easier to keep the area clean as well as make it
easier to construct and place the prosthetic. On the right
you can see that my face is far more symmetrical. There
still is some swelling that should go down further, but the brow
lift and removal of excess tissue all around made a big
difference. Since they had to go through my mouth again to
remove some excess tissue near my (missing) cheek bone, I lost
some more control of the muscles on that side of my mouth and
These pictures were taken at a friend's house on 9/14/2008.
You can see my new glasses in both pictures. You can also
see the swelling has reduced and the left side of my mouth is
rather droopy. When I have the shades on it's hard to
notice so much has been done, although you can see the ridge in
my forehead where the skull overlaps. I cut my hair short again to
try and get the area where they did the brow lift closer in
length to the rest of my hair. I certainly look a "lot
less scary" as my ex-wife Jacki put it.
These pictures are from right after the 12/29/2008 surgery to
remove excess eyelid tissue. They were taken1/4/2009.
This should make it easier for me to keep the area clean.
Before there were folds of eyelids that still secreted mucous.
They had to be kept moist all the time (by putting ointment on
them 2-3 times per day) in order to keep them free of dirt and
to help keep the mucous membrane healthy. There is still a
little swelling on the left side of my head as well.
They made a long incision along the old incision when they
repaired my hernia. It's hard to tell from this picture,
but they did shrink my belly quite a bit. The picture on
the right is from December 2007 when I first got home from the
original surgery. There was a lot of scar tissue from the
original surgery. The horizontal scar is now much shorter
than it was. I also looked like I had three belly buttons
before. I'm hoping after recovery that I will be able to
work on the strength of my core at the gym. This surgery
was far more involved than the surgeon originally thought, so I
am not holding out any expectations at this point.
The staples were taken out a couple of weeks after I got out of
the hospital. These pictures are from 2/25/2009. I
lost some weight from the procedure as well. In fact, the
left side used to be very bulged out and it now is smaller than
the right side. I'm hoping I can lose the fat and
strengthen the muscles when I get back to the gym. I am
cleared to try some cardio work at this point. The doctor
said to stop if it hurts, but not to overdo it if it doesn't.
I decided to take a few more days off and may go back to the gym
On 8/26/2009 I had my port removed. It was installed in
February 2008. The main reason was to make it easier to
administer the chemotherapy drugs. I was attached to IVs
for about 5 hours once per week for seven weeks in
February/March 2008. you can see the bump on the left.
The port is put on top of my ribs and the tube was run over my
clavicle and into my aorta. It was about one inch away
from my heart. You can also see the tube under my skin,
and going over my clavicle, up by my neck.
These are from the scans I had done in August 2009. You
can see my left eye missing (and right eye still intact) very
clearly in the black and white image. You can also see all
the "filler" tissue they harvested from my abdomen to fill in
everything they had to remove in the left orbit and back to my
brain. My nose is also curved to the left, but it is much
better after the reconstructive stuff they did in August and
The scan on the left is from July 2010. It looks very
similar to the scan from August 2009. In fact, like they
said in August 2009, I am still cancer free! I will get a
new scan every year to make sure the cancer isn't coming back.
It was beyond "stage" classification, so they did not have any
idea if they could get it all, or if it would come back. I
feel pretty good, still get tired easy, but I am very happy to
Summer 2009 scan on the right, summer 2010 in the middle, summer
2011 on the left. Again I am cancer free after my early
August 2011 PET and CT scans! Now to deal with my belly.
The repair (done in February 2009) of my huge surgical hernia
has failed. Surgery is scheduled for 9/28/2011.
In early August 2011, I experienced severe and sharp pains in my
belly. I knew the hernia repair from 2009 must have
failed. I saw the surgeon who did the original repair on
8/13/2011. He could tell by looking and feeling (and my
description of the pain) there was a problem. I could not
get a CT scan to locate the problem(s) until 9/13/2011.
After those scans, it was clear there were two tears in my belly
located at and near my original belly button. Surgery was
scheduled for 9/28/2011. I came home from the hospital on
9/30/2011. The picture on the left is from 10/1/2011.
This was the first time I took off the bandages to clean the
wound and put on fresh bandages. The large black and blue
mark is where a drain was inserted. The drain was to take
extra fluid out of my belly as it healed after the surgery.
The tube was inside me about 5-6 inches. The center
picture was taken 10/13/2011 after the staples were removed.
They decided to leave the sutures in for another week. The
picture on the right shows the sutures removed on 10/20/2011.
There were a total of 19 staples and 8 sutures.