Esophageal cancer - Stage III
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
View CTCA treatment results for esophageal cancer
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I grew up with my mom, dad and brother. At age 25, I met the love of my life, Cathy, and we married a year later. Then tragedy struck when I was 30 years old and my father passed away due to complications from diabetes. My brother, who took my father’s death hard, died two weeks later at the age of 33. Our family was heartbroken.
We all supported one another and pushed ahead, but there were difficult times. At that time, I started to put up emotional walls. I figured that as long as I don’t let down those walls, nobody could hurt me.
I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday. When I was old enough, as a teenager, I made the decision to stop going. Then I had two kids, and that changed everything: I wanted to expose my children to faith and a community, so we all started going to church every Sunday. I rededicated my life to God and let him guide me moving forward.
Then, I started planning for my retirement from my 25-year career as a quality technician for a research equipment company, which I don’t see as an end but rather beginning. My idea of retirement is that it is a time to find something to do that I enjoy and I am passionate about. So in 2014, I started seminary school to further build a solid Christian foundation that will equip me with the values, knowledge and skills essential for the next phase of my life.
A bump in the path
Things were going well, and then I noticed something different. In early 2016, I started having problems swallowing food. It felt like things were getting stuck in my throat. I went to my doctor, and he didn’t see anything but advised that I get an endoscopy.
The doctor performing the procedure saw a mass and sent me straight in for a CAT scan. I returned the following week for the results, and he told me I had a mass in my esophagus that was also partially in my stomach.
It hit me hard. I wasn’t afraid to die, but I did have discussions with God. “I have the rest of eternity to spend with you. Can I get a little time here, please?” However, I was ready to accept my fate because if I die, I get into heaven, and if I don’t, I’m still here on Earth sharing my faith.
I really didn’t want to go through with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. So I began researching and looking at all my options. Then one day, a good friend of mine calls and tells me about a commercial he saw on television for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). He explained that they combined conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation to treat the cancer, while using supportive care therapies to help strengthen the whole body. This sounded what I was looking for.
Answer to my prayers
I called CTCA®, and after speaking to an Oncology Information Specialist for over two hours, I felt that I had to go to see if it was right for me. I made an appointment to go to the hospital in Suburban Chicago. CTCA helped obtain all my past medical history and test results.
When I walked through the doors of the hospital, I knew was in the right place. At CTCA, I didn’t see one doctor; I saw a team of doctors and clinicians who consulted with one another about treatment that would be appropriate for me. I was treated with compassionate care as a whole individual. I appreciated that. Together, we created a treatment plan that was tailored to me and my needs.
After completing diagnostic testing at CTCA, I found out my cancer was stage III. In April 2016, I started six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation to fight the cancer. I continued to work part-time every day from 6 to 11 a.m. I would then go to CTCA to complete my treatments. I took advantage of several supportive therapies, such as nutrition and naturopathic medicine, to combat my side effects, including nausea and fatigue.
In August 2016, I had surgery. I underwent a total gastrectomy, which removed my stomach and part of my esophagus, then reattached the small intestines to my remaining esophagus. I was off the feeding tube two days after surgery. I was determined to get up and get moving during my recovery, which I felt went well. While my wife was at work, I would walk around our neighborhood.
Throughout my treatment, I have lost a lot of weight, and there were times I wasn’t sure if I could make it through. But I trusted in God and my care team to help me finish it. My wife also encouraged me and stood by my side. With their support, I completed my treatment plan.
My path ahead
Today, I have no evidence of disease, and I return to CTCA every three months for checkups. After my surgery, I did take oral chemotherapy for three months to reduce my risk of recurrence. While I now eat smaller and more frequent meals since I no longer have a stomach, I am adjusting to my new normal. I have good days and bad, but I always have a positive attitude knowing that I survived.
I am continuing my faith studies, and we will see where that path eventually takes me. I am an active volunteer at my church and in my community, and I participate in 5K races to raise funds for cancer awareness and research. I frequently share with others what I have learned about God and our journey here on Earth. I also talk to those with cancer and share my journey. I tell them that you have to take it day by day. You can’t start thinking about what-ifs. You have to look at it with a better perspective, with a positive perspective. It’s very easy to get negative about anything. But it won’t do you any good. Think positive thoughts. That’s truly the biggest emotional battle to fight.
My cancer journey has taught me so much. But the most important lesson I learned was to let down my emotional walls. Cancer has given me self-confidence, and now with my walls down, I am trusting God fully to guide me. I am “all in.”
I am grateful for every moment, and I enjoy spending time with my wife, children and three grandchildren, who are the center of my universe. I know I am blessed to be here, and I am going to make the most of my days.