Job L.

Esophageal Cancer - Stage III

Job L
quotation

CTCA truly cared about my patient experience, treating my whole person and actively monitoring my quality of life. Any issues were quickly addressed, and I had access to a variety of supportive care therapies.

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 PREVALENT CANCERS WE TREAT.

The problem began in a subtle way. For about a year and a half, I’d been having trouble swallowing on and off. Sometimes everything was fine, but other times, swallowing food felt like trying to cram a bowling ball through a straw.

In the fall of 2011, I tried a prescription reflux medication, but in mid-November, at my doctor’s urging, I completed an endoscopy and it looked abnormal. A week later, we received the call telling us that the test for cancer was positive, and I was diagnosed with stage III esophageal cancer.

That was a hard moment of facing reality. I live a very healthy lifestyle. I don’t smoke. I don’t chew tobacco. We cook healthy meals at home. I exercise at the gym five or six days a week, and I am in good shape. I really didn’t understand how I could have been diagnosed with cancer.

There was no reason to delay treatment. I met with an oncologist near our home in Omaha, Nebraska, and had six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation followed by an esophagectomy in March 2012. After the surgery, I had quarterly check-ups. In December 2013, the doctor called to tell me that although the areas where the surgery and radiation were directed looked fine, there were some worrisome spots. One of these was in the outer wall inside my lung, accessible for biopsy. The results confirmed three spots were cancerous.

A new approach

Two days before Christmas in 2013, my wife called Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). She and I spoke with an Oncology Information Specialist. Within a matter of hours, I had an appointment scheduled at CTCA®. We arrived on December 29, and I met with my care team, a medical oncologist, oncology nurse and care manager. I completed testing, including a PET scan, a CT scan and other diagnostic tests.

On New Year’s Eve, my medical oncologist told me I had three options. We could do nothing and just wait to see how things progress—we all agreed this was not the approach we wanted to take. Another option was robotic radiosurgery on three spots. The third option was chemotherapy. He explained that because radiation could miss small areas, his recommendation was chemotherapy. I agreed and started treatment right away.

I had concerns going into it, but I knew that my care team had my best interests at heart. They told me that if I was willing to fight, they would be beside me every step of the way. I felt comfort and peace knowing that I was at CTCA for a reason. I finally felt hope, and I was determined to fight for my life.

For the next nine months, I was at CTCA every three to four weeks for chemotherapy, receiving a total of 10 to 15 rounds in all with capecitabine and oxaliplatin. The side effects were fairly minimal, and any that I experienced were handled quickly and effectively. I continued working full time and going to the gym.

I was comforted by how everyone at CTCA treated my caregivers, both my wife and my father. They were always included in all my appointments so that it wasn’t only me receiving the information and updates. The doctors and clinicians also wanted my family’s perspective on how things were going for me at home between treatments. Every time my father goes with me, he is amazed at the care and warmth shown to us. He sees how many people there know me by name.

Throughout my treatment I was impressed with the commitment to the Mother Standard® of care, the belief that patients are taken care of the way you would want any member of your family treated. CTCA truly cared about my patient experience, treating my whole person and actively monitoring my quality of life. Any issues were quickly addressed, and I had access to a variety of supportive care therapies that I took advantage of.

My medical oncologist was everything I could ask for in a doctor. He never sugar-coated anything and was always straightforward with me. My dietitian was always just a phone call away. My naturopathic support providers were very attentive, keeping track of whatever supplements I was taking and making changes as needed.

Being away from my family was hard. My wife or father traveled with me to Oklahoma for my appointments. I put in long hours with my job at a communications company, and being away from my family while at the CTCA hospital in Tulsa was difficult. But I knew that this was a small price to pay.

Going through treatment was made easier by all these comforts I experienced at the hospital. Then in March 2014, two of the spots that had shown up in the imaging scan were gone. By August, an imaging scan showed no visible signs of cancer. In September, a battery of tests confirmed that the cancer was in remission. This was the best news I have ever received.

Big changes ahead

My oldest daughter was 4 months old when I was diagnosed. By the time I started treatment at CTCA, she had turned 2 and we had resigned ourselves to the idea of being a family of three because we thought my cancer and treatment would make a second child impossible. During my treatment at CTCA, my wife found out she was pregnant. We were ecstatic. Going through treatment, I tried to bury the fears that my daughters would never remember me, and I fought hard for my family. Today, I have two beautiful daughters, and it is so important to me that we make memories together. Life is precious, and I appreciate all our moments, the big and small.

During my treatment, my care team at CTCA became part of our extended family, and they remain that way today. My wife and I truly connected with the doctors, clinicians, staff and patients at the hospital. I enjoy seeing them when I go back. While away, we interact a lot on social media. I also get text messages and phone calls checking in on how I’m doing on a personal level.

My family and I also really connected to the Tulsa area during our many trips to the hospital. We fell in love with the city and the people there. When the opportunity arose to move to Tulsa, we jumped on it and went. My family loves living in Tulsa, and we take advantage of the many opportunities provided to us here. We go to many athletic games at the local universities. The girls love being outside, and we often hike on the weekends. We live close to the Tulsa zoos, museums and many other family-friendly locations. My goal is to live with purpose, be there for major milestones and make memories with my family. Being at CTCA has changed my life for the better in so many different ways.

In September 2019, I will celebrate five years of survivorship, and I cannot wait. I’ve gotten through my cancer journey with faith, my family supporting me, and the compassionate care provided by CTCA. To celebrate, I want to find more ways to give back to others.

When I speak with those facing a cancer diagnosis, I tell them that you don’t have to listen to the statistics. If someone gives you a grim outlook, that doesn’t mean they’re right. I also always recommend calling CTCA because I know the kind of care I received there. Keep a fighting mentality, ready to move forward with hope.

My wife and two little girls kept me motivated. That was a much better source from which to draw strength than the statistics, and I am thankful for every day we have together.

 

Diagnosed:
11/01/2011
Treatment at:
Care team