UPDATED: Radio personality Pat O'Day recovering from surgery
The legendary radio personality Pat O'Day, 77, had surgery Friday morning on a large benign tumor pressing on his brain. His wife says he came through the surgery well, and his doctor was very happy.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Legendary Pacific Northwest radio personality Pat O'Day, 77, came through surgery successfully Friday afternoon for removal of a meningioma, a benign tumor that was pressing against his brain, says his wife, Stephanie Johnson O'Day.
She says, "The doctor (Dr. Gregory Foltz, director of the Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute) came up and had a big smile on his face, and said, 'We got it all. It'll never come back.' "
Johnson O'Day says that Foltz explained the tumor had been growing slowly for 30 to 40 years, starting out the size of a pea and eventually ending up the size of an egg that then began causing the various symptoms exhibited by O'Day.
Pat O'Day will be recuperating at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle for three to five days, says his wife.
On Thursday, he called directly from his hospital bed in Seattle.
Even when he is about to go under the knife, it is hard to keep O'Day away from a mike.
The news about the tumor spread on the Internet to his thousands of fans, who've been posting Facebook messages of concern on the page of one of O'Day's sons, Jeff O'Day.
Over the past few months, the tumor had left Pat O'Day with memory loss, ever-increasing signs of depression, quietness instead of his usual boisterous personality, and by this week, said his wife, problems with his motor skills, such as not being able to close his hand.
By Thursday, medication had relieved the pressure on his brain, said the former disc jockey, who in the 1960s worked drive-time at KJR-AM. Then, it was a rock 'n' roll station, and at times O'Day commanded now-unheard of shares of 40 percent of the total audience.
He sounded pretty good on the phone, almost ready to call one of the hydroplane races that also gained him fame. (Although these days, his younger fans know O'Day as the pitchman for Schick Shadel Hospital, the facility that promises to cure your booze or drug addiction — "Give us 10 days and we'll give you back your life!")
"I'm told it started about the first of the year and progressed. I was forgetful, didn't finish sentences. ... I agreed to go to Anacortes to the hospital for a checkup," said O'Day. These days, he lives on San Juan Island with his wife, a land-use attorney. O'Day himself had become a successful real-estate agent there.
His wife said that basically the family made O'Day go see a doctor: "Who wants to admit there's something wrong? He rarely goes to the doctors," she said.
Pat O'Day continued, "They did a CAT scan and discovered I had a massive tumor on top of my skull, and that it appeared fatal."
There were more tests, including an MRI.
"The doctor came running out 20 minutes later and says, 'You won't believe it. This is benign.' "
O'Day choked up on the phone, just as he choked up later when talking about all those Facebook postings from fans who wrote about how he provided them "with the soundtrack of my youth."
He said, "I love broadcasting. I love getting information out to the fans."
He added that on Friday morning he was going to show Dr. Foltz the story with his name in it, and how O'Day calls him "the finest under-the-skullcap surgeon."
Can't hurt, can it?
Pat O'Day, always hustling, always working the angles
And it all seems to have worked out.
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or email@example.com