Bi-Coastal. A New Beginning for Bob and Lisa

by | May 15, 2022 | 90 comments

Well it’s day five since my surgery. An Ivor Lewis esophageal resection performed by the head of thoracic surgery at Virginia Mason hospital here in Seattle.

Esophageal Cancer, stage 3c. If you google this like I did when first diagnosed, you start to think about saying goodbye. But when you dig deeper, you learn there are a number of factors to improve your odds.

Someone once told me there are one or two bad Thai Restaurants in Seattle. And 5 thousand that are excellent. It’s like that with cancer care here too. Seattle has amazing cancer care. After a great recommendation from a dear friend (Scott Strong) who is a 14 year survivor of pancreatic cancer (another one you do not want to google after a diagnosis) I did what you have to do. Get the best care you can to improve the odds that you can be there longer for your kids and grandkids. Dr Hubka is a world class thoracic surgeon who performs a high volume of this specific surgery.

So I had my operation Tuesday. At Virginia Mason. People do literally travel from all over the country, even out if the country to be here.

But there are no guarantees.

It’s a pretty intense surgery. Not for the faint of heart. Google it at your own risk. Trust me I’m not brave about this stuff, but what choice do you really have?

I expected to be laid out for months. I’ll be released from the hospital Monday.

As well as I’m doing, I’m just like so many cancer patients. There will be biopsies and a pathology study to determine best course of action. Follow up treatment with immunotherapy and/or radiation is very common with this and other aggressive cancers, because they like to spread and reoccur. So I will also need to be monitored and screened regularly.

Plus, now I need to learn how to eat entirely differently, which can take a long time. I can only eat one cup of food at a time. Those of you who’ve watched me attack a pepperoni pizza will know how much that’s going to suck.

So Lisa and I will be spending a lot of time on the West Coast again, where we will have great health care, and spend more precious time with our children and grandchildren.

We’re really going to miss making Maple Syrup. But it will be nice to have access to some great Thai restaurants.

More on this adventure in a few days. Lisa and I are grateful for all your love and support. I especially love so many of you remembered stories of when we met, or something on the radio show that changed your life.

Next week. Part 2 of “what are those crazy guys up to now?” I dare you go make a prediction.


  1. Penny Elder

    So many inroads have been made into the treatment of this insidious disease that I have nothing but optimism regarding your outlook. I lost my father to it over 37 years ago which, in medical research and innovation time, might as well be 100 years. You are definitely in the best of hands and cities for treatment! I would wish you luck, but that isn’t what you need. You need perseverance, patience, the unquestioning ability to follow your doctor’s instructions, and faith. God bless! And thank you for all the years you and your crew provided me and mine entertainment.

  2. Rob Dooley

    Thank you for all the years of entertainment you have given to so many. Enjoy your hiking.

  3. Larry Graff

    Bob. Being a faithful listener to your many iterations, I have confidence in your complete recovery. God has so much more for you to do. I have known many people who have survived cancer and a few that I have lost. Why do we say that they are lost? Do they just wonder away? I think not. You have left a mark on more people than you know. A smile is a gift that costs nothing and returns much. You and your company have brought so much laughter and light that you will never be lost. All that we really have to give are memories. You’ve given us a lot, with many more to come. Think shrink,Stay strong. Thank you much.

  4. Pat Porter

    For many years we started our day with Bob,Spike and Joe. We felt like we knew you. I am a cancer survivor and know all the fears and anxiety that go with it. Have faith that you will be a survivor and a mentor to future survivors. You are loved and respected to many. We were devastated to hear you were sick. But,we will all celebrate when this is in your rear view window. Sending prayers and love always.

  5. Heather

    Glad to hear there was success and you are in good spirits! Thank you for updating, been thinking of you and your family.

  6. Bill Fredericks

    Thanks for sharing, wishing you a full recovery. Enjoy the blessings of family, from #96, Sutton , MA

  7. Arlene B Poplewko

    Love that picture. Looking forward to hearing about your new adventure. Will miss your maple syrup. I am happy I got a tour. Be Strong! Thinking of you and Lisa.

  8. Dan Raley

    Love your photo. I live somewhere in the North Bend background. When I had my last knee surgery, I stayed awake listening to you and Spike. Sorry we couldn’t do the interview you requested from the operating room. Sorry too that your world has been rocked some. Hang tough. In this world, the Rivers runs through it. Prayers for Bob

  9. Gary Nielsen

    Bob,I’m sorry to hear about your cancer. My thoughts & payers go out to you and your family. That being said, I’ve been a long time listener. I remember so many great memories on “KISW Seattle’s Best Rock”. THE JELLO MOLDS🤣. Anyway Brother just keep kicking that cancers ass. All my love & Payers, Gary “Otis” Nielsen.

  10. ken the vegan

    so glad things went well, …. glad to hear you got the best of care, you certainly deserve it.

  11. Capt.Kirk

    First time caller Long time listener

    • Capt.Kirk

      Could tell you plenty on air stories , probly rarely missed your shows for I’m guessing 30+ years. Got some great photos of you and the gang playing N. Bend anyway I’m pulling for ya . Pancreatic got my mom!

  12. Robin Hernandez

    Sooooo happy the surgery went well!!!! Knowing the rest of the journey will be positive

  13. Rachael Millikan

    Bob! its Rachael, Jazz Alley. I am so sorry you are dealing with this, good Lord! Sounds like you have the best possible attitude, care and love around you anyone could ask for. We’ve got you too. I’m going to share on the Jazz Alley page and that will be another incremental bump of love and healing vibes coming your way! Hang in there friend. ~ The Jazz Alley family

  14. Charles R. Cross

    Always wishing you the best Bob, and confident in your speedy recovery

  15. Jamie Keyes

    Such a rare cancer, but in the last 3 years I’ve been exposed to 3 people with this exact illness. One, my colleague, at 75, doing well after first some chemotherapy to reduce the tumor and then surgery and then radiation. At 2 years out, holding up well. Wishing you the best, holding a positive mindset and your family close. Keep us up to date. Jamie (not O’Neil, a different one).

  16. Randy

    Thanks for the update. Keeping you in my positive thoughts.

  17. David Ayers

    🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏❤️ Bob and Lisa

  18. Ellen Torchia

    I already know what you 2 are up to next but won’t tell, lol.
    Love you Bob and Lisa. Looking forward to seeing you more since you will be in the west again.

  19. Janet Wainwright

    You and Lisa are on an incredible journey. I appreciate your honesty and straightforward approach to your cancer and your recovery. There are so many people rooting for you and sending love your way. Enjoy this beautiful day. Take care, Janet

  20. Cathi Champion

    Ah yes, the stories about meeting Bob, Spike, and Joe do bring back memories. I was handling promotional events for Ticketmaster and had the opportunity to meet B, S and J along with Kathy, your producer. Darn, can’t remember her last name. It was a bit odd, standing in a hallway in the old FX McRory offices. But Kathy put me on your mailing list and I received birthday cards for a while. Still have those somewhere in my decades of accumulated souvenirs. It is my distinct pleasure to have enjoyed your show for almost all the years it was on, and I wish you all the positivity you radiated through those radio waves.

    PS Wish your syrup was in single, old-lady-who-doesn’t-need-sugar size. 🙂

  21. Jennifer Burns

    Praying for a speedy recovery and full remission. My husband had stage 4 intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and thanks to the amazing team at Virginia Mason (13 hour surgery!), chemo, radiation, and tons of support he was able to reach remission. Not bad for a guy with a 2% chance! I will continue to send you and your family good vibes my friend. Oh! And so glad I froze some syrup 😉

  22. Jim King

    Hey Bob , thinking about you and Lisa. Love ya man.
    Jim King

  23. Byron Blank

    I’m am so glad the surgery went well! Can’t wait for your full recovery and return to podcasting etc. I know it will be a long journey but it’s worth the wait

  24. Joey Dean

    Stay strong brother!

  25. Matt Loes

    Bob!! Very happy that your surgery was successful, and love your attitude! Thank you for sharing this!! Continued positive vibes to you and your family!!

  26. Aaron

    i am so glad all went well. Stay well Bob you have a great attitude and strong support system. There is definitely many more syrup seasons in store for you and Lisa.

  27. Karen Davis

    Dear Bob,
    So sorry to hear about your diagnosis I myself dealt with kidney cancer last year and came out well. I miss you on the radio in the morning all the years he said things to make me laugh and make me cry. I’m sending nothing but love prayers and blessings to you and your family.
    Love you Bob

  28. Tari Brown

    We are all with you on this journey, Bob. Sending good energy for a solid recovery! Love to Lisa.

  29. Dave Logan

    Wishing you the best possible outcome Bob.

  30. Jim Clarke

    Best wishes Bob. I really miss you on the radio here in Seattle. As a teenager in Long Island, NY, I listened to your Twisted Christmas album ENDLESSLY and was shocked to hear you on the radio when I moved out here in 99! I had no idea since this was before Google! But thank you for the humor and memories and cheers to you making many more memories for years to come.

  31. LisaP

    SO glad to hear the good news of your successful surgery! Like many, have listened to you for a looong time… An early memory was when you broadcast live in a box from Car Toys in N. Seattle, I think to raise money for books/literacy? Anyway, we drove there and stood with hundreds of others to watch you successfully emerge. I didn’t start the story with this intention, but maybe it’s a fitting metaphor for now as well? Am thinking healing thoughts for you multiple times a day!

  32. Kevin Fillo

    Sending you love strength and energy Bob, know that you are in our thoughts and hearts. Hope to see you and Lisa On The blue Cruise next January!

  33. Brad W.

    Sooo glad to hear you are doing well!! We’re missing you and Lisa in Vermont!

  34. Paulette

    We just heard today about your surgery, sending much Aloha and hugs to you and Lisa. Read your blog posts and so appreciate your transparency. ….Paulette and Ernie

  35. Linda

    Bob, thank you for sharing your journey. You have the right growth mindset and curiosity to find the best treatment, and you are learning the humility to accept love and help when you need it. You are already a winner in life.

  36. Candice Cain

    Good news! ❤️☮️🙏

  37. Karri

    Hi Bob,
    I’m SO glad to hear you’re doing so well!! I’ve not actually ‘met’ you, although Joe did kinda introduce us at Snoqualmie Casino once, you were walking by kinda quick. I have listened to your voice for so many years now I feel like I do know you though. I’m pretty opinionated and listening to you guys talk all those years helped me be a bit more open to other peoples’ ideas and opinions. I learned a lot listening to you all and I am really looking forward to listening to you talk in the future too.
    Best of wishes always, Bob, you can beat this!! (And welcome back to our neck of the woods too, even though we’re without maple syrup…. Our Thai does rock!)

  38. Laura Martinez

    God Bless you.
    you will be awesome. You are awesome. God is so good.

  39. Cathy Faulkner

    You are in good hands. Seattle does have amazing cancer care. When you are up to it – happy to bring a cup of Thai. You’ve got this!

  40. Scott W Douglas

    I can remember when you can to Seattle airwaves and I can remember when you left Bob. Thank you for all you have given to the Pacific Northwest.
    Now it’s time the Pacific Northwest gives back to you and your family. My wife Sheri and I and our entire family and friends will keep you all deep in our daily prayers. We All Love you here.

  41. Kim

    Bob, sending healing vibes for a complete recover and a clean bill of health. Long time fan.

  42. Doug S

    Thank you for sharing the type of cancer you were diagnosed with. As a three-time cancer survivor myself, I am always interested to hear what others have going on. What a brave soul you are to Google your type of cancer. In 2014 I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, got on my computer and Googled it, spent about two minutes looking and said “Nope” and stopped researching. What can I say, I scare easily. Best of luck and look forward to hearing more about your journey.

  43. John Reed

    I appreciate you including me in your blog. I have followed you from almost the beginning. You thoughts and songs have touched my life. Thank you for that. I am a prostrate cancer survivor. Did not dally had it removed as soon as it was stage 3. PSA score for me 0.00. I hope and pray the same for you. Your attitude is great. I imagine it took a lot of control on that last pod cast. Which was amazing and great as is most of your career. I hope to hear you again. Thank you for all those years of top shelf entertainment and may god bless you and your family. Thank you again. John reed

  44. Amy Ackerson

    Dr. Google can be pretty scary. Glad you found the care you need. Hang in there!

  45. Bob Hannah

    Thanks for making me feel better by comparison. All the best, may Seattle’s weather be a bit kinder to us all. Now about the next maple syrup…please don’t make me buy Canadian!

  46. Sue Ostrander

    I’m hoping for the best outcome for you Bob. You and your radio show got me through many stressful days at work. Please get well soon. ❤️

  47. Mrs Joey

    Prayers & ((hugs)) for you and your family 💝
    This FB page is helpful: Dysphagia Foods & Recipes Group
    It offers suggestions for limited eating 🥞🎹🎶🎤👑🌂📿 🤍❤️ 💙💚

  48. Collin

    Been listening since the 90s. You and Spike and Joe have been a great influence in my life! Hugs!

  49. Jill Hatcher

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Sending love and prayers to you and your family 💕

  50. Donna Shattuck

    Thank you for updating your mass “family”. There’s no doubt with your tenacity and the talent you have for educating yourself, you have the best odds of anyone out there! So much positive mojo being sent your way.

  51. Todd Olmsted-Fredrickson

    2008 Stage 3b Melanoma. Dr Bird at UW removed 27 limp nodes, 3 had cancer. Wife saved my life by nagging me to have a mole looked at. PNW is the place to be to battle the big C.

  52. Michelle Henderson

    Sending Love and healing thoughts to you and Lisa.
    It’s easier to be the sick one than the loved ones caring for you.
    Be well Bob.

  53. Leslie Cicilline

    Thank you for sharing! You’re an inspiration!

  54. Bruce Thomson

    Great news Bob! You’re going to get through this. Wishing you a very speedy recovery.

  55. Therese Zocchi

    Sending love.

  56. Lori Krasnowsky

    You write and speak so eloquently. If I’ve learned anything from being a cancer survivor is that you know what you know when you know it, and not to future-trip. Wishing you Godspeed, Bob, in your progress and health. I’m happy to share my Grandmother’s chicken soup recipe with you. It’s been published and is like a warm hug, that we’re also all sending to you (virtually). Take care. Cancer sucks.

  57. Jackie C L Steinbock

    Great news!! Keep up the positive attitude! I’m sure you’ve researched it, but having a positive attitude and a healthy belief system is paramount to living longer with or without cancer. I’ve seen it in real life with friends who either beat it or prolonged your lives. Take care, you and your family!

  58. Mary Buckwald

    So glad to read how you’ve managed to get through the operation like a champ. I’ve been thinking about you and praying all things go well. I picked up a habit from you years ago…No worries❤️ I look forward to more good news from you two🥰

  59. Gordon Macdougall

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I appreciate it always.

    Bi-coastal is really the way to be!

    ~ New Yorker Seattleite


    Love and prayers for you and Lisa.
    I can not say enough good about the total care I have received in my journey with cancer. I, like you chose the pros at VM for my original surgery and they had me up and moving then next day and home by the end of the week.
    I would recommend a look at SCCA for your follow up care, the staff there has taken some of the worst news of my life and turned it from end of the road thinking to hope and looking forward to the future.
    Cancer care in the Seattle area is truly amazing.

  61. Glen Casebeer Dunlap

    Continued love and positive energy being sent your way my friend.

  62. Lisa Pontrella

    Thank you for sharing. Speedy recovery to you.

  63. Warren & Missi

    I just finished reading your blog. Congrats on successful surgery! I’m sure I speak for all who have either met you or listened to you on the radio that we all wish you a speedy recovery. Take it easy and please keep us all updated on how you are doing.

  64. Diana Johanson

    Be well Bob Rivers 🫶

  65. Scott Strong

    Bob, there are so many people cheering for you – from all around the country. Looking forward to the day when we can enjoy that pizza (or at least some scrumptious macaroni & cheese 😉👍🍽). I know you’ll remain focused and strong as this journey continues. Blessings and best wishes always to you, Lisa and your family. 💪😃👍

  66. Suzanne Ruth

    Thank you for sharing. I hope for nothing but a positive outcome for you and your family. You helped me when I needed questions answered and even tho you won’t remember me , I will always remember your kindness. Seriously, if you or Lisa need anything all you have to do is ask.

  67. Shelley Murphy

    Thinking of you Bob!!!

  68. Laura Wagner

    Continuing to send positive vibes and good juju for you Bob! 🤘🏼

  69. elperrogrande

    Best wishes Bob! Wish you were back in Seattle for other reasons, but sending our most positive thoughts your way as you recover. Thanks for coming back in the form of a podcast after your terrestrial radio career was done. We feel like some old friends came back into our orbit. Take care,
    Doug Honeyman

  70. Donna Waelter

    Bob, I’ll miss you here in Vermont but will be watching your progress and send you only the deepest heartfelt wishes for a great recovery. It’s terrific that you can get the terrific care you need in a place you long called home. Time to be with your family and friends out there. Sending love and respect.

  71. John

    Great to hear that things went well – and don’t forget, now that you’ll be bi-coastal, you’ll need to change your pronouns (survivor/survivors). Looking forward to the upcoming homespun recipes for what you can put into Soylent to make it taste less like [no spoilers]. Stay well & keep up the good work.

  72. Patti Beeg

    Many prayers coming your way.

  73. Stephen Botulinski

    Hey Bob,Stephen Botulinski here i met you once at Scotts Dairy Freeze talked a bit had a burger and discussed our kids who both attended Mt Si High.My son Steve Jr. is now a history teacher there as well as Head Coach for Mt.Si Football.You are in my prayers and positive thoughts and good MoJo are headed your way.Always for years been a big fan of you Spike and Joe,Love ya man

  74. Kristy Schaaf

    Good news, Bob. You have been in my prayers.

  75. Rob Barnett

    Grateful for keeping us close. Nonstop Rock. Nonstop Love.

  76. Don Davis

    Great to hear Bob! All the best as you recover and regain your good health.

  77. Kathy

    I am happy for the good news and that you are so positive! You will stay in my prayers for as long as they are needed…and the. Some! 😊

  78. Jennie Jenks

    You are amazing and an inspiration, Bob. All the best, and your positive attitude and family/friends support is EVERYTHING! <3

  79. Tami Barber

    Welcome back to WA. Praying all goes well for. ☺️❤️

  80. Jennifer

    Bob, I sent you a message about this. Please investigate Jane McClelland and Joe Tippens. Your onco docs will tell you that they don’t work but I truly believe the science.

  81. johnknowshow

    … Awesome … Take care in the days ahead, we’ve all been pullin’ for ya …

  82. Terri

    Stand in Faith. I read once “you’re in the middle of a miracle”. Believe it everyday…❤️

  83. Brian Cornfield

    Great progress. Keep moving forward my friend.

  84. Jim Gregory

    Bob glad you are doing better and getting stronger.

  85. Paul

    I was introduced to you in Baltimore when you spent time on that sign back in 1988. Do you remember that? Then I loved the Twisted Tunes (I have a vinyl copy of the very first Christmas album stashed away, and no equipment on which to play it any longer). I followed you off and on in Seattle, and discovered your health problems when I was looking into maple syrup. Hopefully you make a full recovery and are with us for years to come. Stay positive and get well!

    A 98Rock listener in Baltimore

  86. Jim McKeon

    Thanks so much for sharing Bob. We really care a lot for you and your family amd your well-being.. Sounds like you are on the route to recovery, albeit a lengthy one. As Jose Andres says, just keep moving ahead every day. Don’t get bogged down in whether to turn left or right, just move forward. Be well, my friend.

  87. Bonnie

    My good friend is 10 years out from that same cancer. They didn’t diagnose it early enough so it ruined his voice, but he is still smiling. Glad you are getting awesome care. Stay strong.

  88. Kirk Mcvay

    Best wishes Bob your a soldier you will win this battle I’m going to be praying for you.

  89. Dimas

    “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
    We’re so glad you could attend.” ELP


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