About five years ago, Richard Bernstein’s right toe began to ache mysteriously.
“I went to my pediatrician,” a 62-year-old Montvale resident told The Post. “I thought I broke my toe, but he couldn’t find anything in it.”
Two years later, the disease entered his heel, so he turned to a sports medicine doctor who thought he had stenosis – a narrowing of the lumbar spine that was sometimes treated with physical therapy.
Pain in his legs and feet continued to affect his mobility. Then, in March 2022, his right leg became noticeably swollen. She went to a general practitioner, who scanned her abdomen during the examination. The doctor immediately sent him to the doctor. Michael Grasso, director of urology at Phelps Hospital, said there was some disturbing news.
“He told me that I had four days to live,” recalls Bernstein.
Abdominal scans showed that a married father of a child had a large cancerous kidney tumor and a tumor thrombus, which grew through the renal vein and filled the vena cava, the main vein flowing to the heart.
Grasso admitted Bernstein to Lenox Hill Hospital so he could work with cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Hemley and vascular surgeon Alfio Carroccio to perform a complex procedure to remove the tumor.
However, preoperative testing revealed pressing medical issues. Bernstein’s two major coronary arteries were 99% blocked and his liver failed because malignant disease prevented him from functioning.
“He was walking with a thin rope,” Grasso told The Post. “You have two situations, and they happen at the same time, ending in a very short time.”
A trio of surgeons had to remove the tumor and bypass it. The procedure lasted about 12 hours and was a medical symphony.
First, they had to stop the flow of blood and “control the circulation” without damaging the brain. To do this, they connected Bernstein to a lung and heart machine that cooled the body to 18 degrees.
“We can’t just open a blood vessel, remove the blood clot, and close it again because the blood is flowing heavily,” Hemley said. “We want to stop circulation altogether.”
The cooling body was his second team, while the two-hour team performed Hemley and coronary rotation. Then the three began to remove the tumor from the kidneys.
“We opened the veins, they opened the heart on the right [and] released the tumor. I released him from below and pulled the snake out, and they repaired the blood vessels and started warming up again, ”Grasso said.
The “snake” he referred to is The tumor and tumor clot weighed about a foot in length and weighed about 2.5 pounds.
“I can’t say I fully understood the difficulty when I entered, but Grasso said it was difficult. There wasn’t much I could do about it and [that attitude] won me over, ”Bernstein said.
According to Grasso, the disease was observed in Bernstein’s heel, foot and leg because of a blockage in a vein.
“Cava was blocking the vein. There was pressure on his lower legs, ”Grasso said.
Kidney cancer occurs late when the tumor develops. Symptoms may be as vague as back pain, but urine in the blood is another indicator.
According to Bernstein, he had a small tumor in his chest, which was rejected by his doctor. But she feels happy.
“If my legs had not swelled, I would have died,” says Bernstein, who had been on sedation for three days. A week later, he left Lennox Hill and underwent rehabilitation at Phelps Hospital, where he concentrated his efforts. She is now walking back without any help and is slowly returning to 30 pounds.
Doctors believe that all of her cancer has been removed, so she does not need any additional treatment. His focus is now on recovering from major surgery.
“I’m still suffering from a bit of fog,” Bernstein said, telling people who now notice vague symptoms shouldn’t pay attention to them.
“She was not seriously ill at all. My advice is, if something goes wrong and they can’t find it, don’t stop searching, ”he said. “Believe in your feelings for your body.”