An Olympia man is recovering in the hospital after an unusual surgery. He says it’s the equivalent of a baseball pitcher losing his throwing arm.
Bob Haase, 50, has an aggressive form of cancer in his tongue. Doctors at Virginia Mason told him this week they would have to remove half his tongue.
What’s even more difficult is that Haase makes his living as a massage therapy instructor and motivational speaker.
“I cried,” he said, when doctors told him about the procedure. “I saw my life as gone.”
The cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It is more common in people who smoke or chew tobacco, but Haase does neither. He was diagnosed in 2008 and has had 15 surgeries since.
On Thursday, doctors removed his entire left side of his tongue and all his lymph nodes in the left side of his neck. They reconstructed his tongue using tissue from his forearm.
There have been a couple of publicized cases of this surgery, including a soldier in Indiana and a singing contestant on “The X-Factor” in Australia.
“I think he looks cool,” said his daughter, Ashley Stanford. “It’s something different. A story you’ll have to tell.”
In his hospital room, Haase now communicates by typing on a laptop. Even missing half his tongue, his sharp wit still comes through.
“I laughed,” he wrote, after seeing his tongue. “I wondered if I would have to shave it.”
Haase says the left side of his tongue will never be able to taste food. And the father of three, who loves to talk, sing, and do impressions, will have to learn to speak all over again.
For more information on how to help Haase’s family with medical expenses, go to http://www.gofundme.com/blessingbob. You can also follow Bob Haase's blog at http://notwhatyouhadplanned.blogspot.com/