BAY SHORE, Long Island (WABC) -- A father of four from Long Island had no idea a rare cancer was taking over his body until doctors removed the 5-pound, basketball-sized tumor from his liver.
Doctors at South Shore University Hospital removed the tumor from 43-year-old Margarito Banos, of Central Islip, in March, in an operation that took eight hours.
"He saved my life," Banos said in tears of Dr. Gary Deutsch, who led the surgical team.
Doctors discovered the tumor in August 2020 when Banos was admitted to the hospital due to serious digestive issues and weakness.
They first tried to treat the tumor with chemotherapy, but it did not shrink. The tumor was also producing hormones that were damaging Banos's heart.
Banos, a professional carpenter, was almost put into hospice care. But as a last-ditch effort, doctors made the bold decision to operate.
"This tumor was slowly killing him," Deutsch said. "We had a very honest discussion with each other about making a heroic attempt to try to get this tumor out."
Banos' family encouraged him to have the surgery.
"I told him, 'You have to fight this,'" sister Raquel Diaz said. "'You are a soldier. You are the one who can fight this.'"
Dr. Deutsch said they removed 95% of the tumor and two-thirds of Banos' liver, but they weren't able to remove the entire tumor because of the damage it could have done to the remainder of the liver.
The human liver regrows, however, and Dr. Deutsch said Banos' liver levels show that his liver is regrowing and functioning properly.
Dr. Deutsch called the surgery humbling.
"It's taking someone from hospice to walking around town and spending time with his family," he said.
Dr. Deutsch said the tumor will most likely grow back, but they are prepared to intervene every step along the way.
"I think this is really a second lease on life here," Dr. Deutsch said. "We still have a lot of tricks up our sleeve."
Although Banos is expected to have heart valve replacement surgery in the near future due to the damage caused by the hormones emanating from the tumor, he said he is hopeful for the future.
"Everything's going to be OK in my life," he said.
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