Tillie back home after cancer surgery, considers walking again ‘a miracle’

Tillie and Pat Bishop.

Tillie Bishop, who had a cancerous section of bone removed from his left leg earlier this month, is home and walking his way to recuperation.

Bishop, 77, returned to Grand Junction two weeks ago after surgery at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, where surgeons told him they could find no more live cancer cells in his leg.

“That was an emotional moment,” Bishop said of the early morning when his surgeon at Presbyterian-St. Luke told him the surgery had worked. “I can’t quite tell you how emotional it was.”

After additional treatment in Denver, Bishop was sent to Grand Junction via an ambulance ride across the Rocky Mountains with his wife, Pat, driving the family vehicle behind.

A five-hour run landed him at Mantey Heights Rehabilitation and Care Centre, 2825 Patterson Road, and after a few days there, he returned home.

Bishop wears socks that are designed to prevent blood clots and his sutures still are visible. He wears a pain patch and said the repaired leg hurts “but not anywhere as painful as it was when I had a cancerous leg I was hauling around.”

Surgeons hollowed out his left tibia and reinforced it with a titanium coil inside, then filled in the bone with surgical cement.

The idea is that the bone will regrow around the metal.

Bishop’s most immediate challenge, however, is to regain weight, a process that’s more difficult than it might seem because food is unappetizing, thanks to the continuing effects of chemotherapy.

Whether he’ll have to resume chemotherapy will be decided later after he meets again with his physicians, Bishop said.

For now, he’s walking around the house with the help of a two-wheeled walker and padding along a path in a park near his home on a tricked-out, four-wheeled baby complete with a seat on which he can rest if necessary.

A current University of Colorado regent, and former 28-year legislator and Mesa County commissioner, Bishop said letters of encouragement and support coming in from around the state, nation and world were helping him and Pat move through his recovery.

The thoughts and prayers are inspiring, he said, because “You can’t let ‘em down.”

And after three “very, very close calls that could have gone either way” after the cancer began eating away at his leg, Bishop said he’s aware of the road he’s taking.

“To be able to walk around today,” he said, “it’s a miracle.”


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