Update:Larry Shurtleff's facial reconstruction surgery -- a procedure that couldn't go forward until he was deemed cancer-free -- was a success, reports Timothy Tipton, his medical marijuana caretaker.
An indication that doctors encountered fewer problems than anticipated: The operation was scheduled for eleven hours, but only took nine.
A few years back, Shurtleff's facial structure essentially collapsed due to an explosion of cancer; he lost all his teeth and one eye. Moreover, doctors couldn't attempt to repair the damage until the cancer was under control. Not long ago, this victory was finally won due to a combination of radiation, chemotherapy and Phoenix Tears, a hemp oil treatment that Shurtleff believes was mainly responsible for shrinking his deadly tumor into oblivion.
"Larry's going to be in Porter Hospital for the next five days at least, healing up," Tipton says. "They did put some extra fat in his cheeks, so they'll be puffed up for probably eight or nine months -- and then they're going to go in and do a little liposuction to thin that out. But the main thing is, it was a successful facial reconstructive surgery.
"I can't thank all the surgeons and staff at Porter Hospital enough," he adds. "They went to an extra effort to make sure Larry will have a chance to get his life back after beating cancer."
Original item, 7:34 a.m. July 26: Last November, we introduced you to Larry Shurtleff, one of nearly 2,000 people whose medical marijuana applications were rejected due to a quiet Colorado health department rule change -- this despite having stage-four cancer that had taken all his teeth and one eye. Today, however, he's an MMJ card holder in good standing, and undergoing facial reconstruction surgery after being diagnosed as cancer-free.
According to Timothy Tipton, Shurtleff's medical marijuana caregiver, who dropped him off at an area hospital this morning, surgery was scheduled to get underway at 7:30 a.m. and should take in the neighborhood of eleven-and-a-half hours. Yet this ordeal is one Shurtleff welcomes, particularly given his past medical history.
"A couple of years back, the carcinoma in his face exploded behind his cheek and eye," Tipton says. "And when the surgeon went in for tumor removal, half his face structurally collapsed." As a result, "they refused to do additional surgery on him" until the cancer was under control.
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Shurtleff subsequently underwent what Tipton describes as "limited" radiation and chemotherapy -- but he also employed a regimen involving Phoenix Tears, a hemp-oil treatment that its advocates tout as an important cancer-fighting tool. Tipton says this combination proved remarkably effective in Shurtleff's case. "His tumor shrunk in size from three-by-five centimeters about four months ago to one-by-two centimeters a short time later -- and Larry feels strongly that the oil treatments he's ingested and rubbed on his face helped get him to the cancer-free stage."
Even if the surgery goes well, Shurleff doesn't face an easy road. At this writing, he's essentially homeless, and on August 18, he faces a criminal charge he sees as retaliation for events at his previous residence, a nursing home. But today, Tipton is focusing on Shurtleff's health. In his words, "he's so excited to not only get his life back, but to live a semi-normal lifestyle where he doesn't feel disfigured."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Top 25 marijuana stories in Colorado in 2010: The year in weed."