The tough old Montana buzzard

26_roof-8518COMMUNITY SERVICE   — Robert Skorupa, John Bergstrom, Scott Johnson, Gerald Vandenacre, Jerald Bruner and Brad Bruner banded together to do a nice community service project. Alice Garman’s residence was in need of a roof replacement. The crew got together and put on a new roof, but wasn’t looking for any recognition. They get a little anyway. Nice job guys.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler

By Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter

A quiet family, with an equally modest father, had their world turned upside down this summer with the news of a malignant brain tumor roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Roy and Judy Lamb, of Conrad, have been married for 22 years and counting and have three children. By all means, they are an average family with a lot of love and faith in each other. All of this was to be tested on June 23 when they were able to trick Roy into going to Great Falls Benefis hospital to review his suspicious behavior and his steadily declining mannerism.

An MRI, magnetic resonance imaging – primarily a noninvasive medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structure and limited function of the body, was used to scan Roy and within the few minutes following, a mass was discovered on his brain.

The mass, located under Roy’s forehead, then measured 7.5 cm by 5 cm.

Benefis knew they did not have the resources to help the Lamb family and referred them to neurologists in Seattle. The Lambs needed to leave immediately, as the prognosis from Benefis was poor and they doubted how the surgery would turn out.

The Lambs started their 675 mile journey to Seattle on June 28 and ended at the University of Washington Medical Center so Roy could be admitted the next day.

“June 29th was the longest day of my life,” recalls Roy.

The University of Washington Medical Center was more optimistic but was unsure as to Roy’s condition after removing such a large mass.

The surgery to remove the mass lasted over 25 hours with 10 neurosurgeons working around the clock. Roy pulled through and testing of the tumor revealed it not to be cancerous.

Although, non-cancerous, the mass was believed to have been growing for 20 years because of how fiberous and tough it was. The tumor had been in his brain so long that the veins that fed the eyes were attached to it. Extra time was taken to ensure that Roy would have his sight after surgery.

The mass in Roy’s head pushed on his brain which is what gave Roy the first symptoms to his condition. There was a lot of swelling after surgery which gave him double vision. All was well after the swelling diminished.

Doctors revealed that without the removal of the mass as quickly as they had, it would have been fatal in as soon as a week.

“By the Grace of God, prayers from family and friends I pulled through the surgery.”

Roy also said that, “my wife Judy was a constant companion for my recovery posing questions to the doctors at University of Washington Medical Center.”

Roy was released from the hospital July 21 after only starting rehabilitation 12 days before.

Upon returning to Montana, Judy and Roy noticed constant leakage from Roy’s nose. The leak was from a tear in his cranial sac. He was abruptly put on a Mercy Flight back to Washington where doctors inserted a lumbar drain on July 24.

Roy’s flight also posed its own set back as blood clots in his legs hit his lungs, prompting an IVR filter to be place in his jugular vein to prevent them from reaching his heart.

The Otolaryngologist, nose doctor, repaired the cranial sac on Aug. 11.

An Oct. 11 appointment in Seattle with the Otolaryngologist and his Neurosurgeon proved to be reassuring as Roy was given a clean bill of health. Another MRI was taken to compare before and after results. Currently, there is only an empty space left from a terrifying endeavor.

Benefis in Great Falls also gave Roy a clean bill of health after removing the IVR filter in his vein.

Roy’s next appointment is not until next summer in Washington.

Currently, Roy is working on his memory as most of the past three years are lost to him. Learning new information is hard for him now but he is working with an occupational and a physical therapist in Conrad. He has many restrictions so as to avoid jarring of his brain. Roy cannot drive, hunt, ride a bike or go in a hot tub.

The surgeons in Washington have referred to Roy as the “Tough old Montana buzzard” and are very pleased with his fast recovery.

A fundraiser will be held Oct. 24 to help pay the premiums and bills acquired from the family’s eventful summer. The family “appreciates everyone’s help financially, with food and through prayers.”

The fundraiser will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Pondera Valley Lutheran Church in Conrad. It will be a pancake breakfast and there will be raffles.

Lamb is the son of Roy and Joan Larson of Conrad.