My wife had been after me to get my "50th Birthday ritual" colonoscopy scheduled for over a year. So as the end of 2013 loomed ahead and the possibility of loosing our insurance with a company's impending bankruptcy, it was scheduled for January 31st. We went to the local hospital. As a routine questionnaire was completed I answered a question that pertained to difficulty swallowing over the last several months. This was something I knew needed attention, but had put it behind me as a nuisance and nothing to worry about. The Doctor said since I was going to be sedated we should to a scope at both ends just to rule anything out. I told him it sounded like a plan, but only if they did the top before the bottom! They did a biopsy on something they found in the lower distal portion of the esophagus and sent it to pathology. The other end was clean and unremarkable. The scope was a Friday. On Monday morning, February 3rd, I was 2,000 miles from home and was asked to call the Doctor after hours when the office closed. I was told I needed to come home and schedule further testing the biopsy was malignant. Tuesday and Wednesday we had our first large snow event and my wife had been snowed in for two days making phone calls and multiple appointments. I was home by 7 am Thursday morning. The first appointment we had was to visit the funeral home and make all of our final arrangements. It was something my wife needed to do to put one foot in front of the other, "organized ciaos", taking care of business, wrapping up all the loose ends in order to concentrate for the big fight to come so to speak. By Friday the 7th my wife along with a wonderful nurse navigator at the Universtiy of Kansas Medical Center here in Kansas had appointments for an ultrasound scope, CT, PET Scan, the radiologist, oncologist and surgeon. We had assembled a top notch esophageal cancer team and we were coming out swinging. After 28 rounds of radiation to my front, back, side, along with 5 rounds of chemo, the sixth was canceled to to poor platelet count, it was time to heal. I waited a few weeks to re-gain my strength enough to work 30 days in order to keep the insurance. I finished my 30 days on May 21st and had surgery on May 23rd. The surgeon, Dr. Al-Kasspooles performed a transhiatal esophagectomy, removing the entire esophagus, 1/3 of the stomach using the remaining for a pull-up and 15 lymph nodes. The nodes came back clean. No follow up chemo or radiation is scheduled. On Feb. 7th I was diagnosed T3N0M0, on August 22nd I was declared CANCER FREE...now I live life until the next CT. So, glass half full or glass half empty? Who gives a rip? Drink up what is left! None of us know how much is left, but until the glass is flat empty, there is still something to enjoy. Don't waste a drop!
Years since diagnosed:4