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Just got my surgery date

hughesjohnw
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm scheduled for esophagetomy on 8/23/12 for cancer at the ge junction. I'm stage 1B. Can anyone tell me what to expect about the surgery? My doctor has given me his talk but I'd like to hear what someone who has been through it to let me know what it was like for them. Thanks

John

Bermudagirl
Posts: 120
Joined: Jun 2012

Dave's THE will be on Monday October 8th, at Hopkins, with Dr. Stephen Yang. I wish you all the best, John, and will be following along as you recover.

hughesjohnw
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm 54 years old. My dr is Martin who is with university surgical associates in Louisville Kentucky. I was wanting to get a gastric bypass and the last test they performed was an endoscope to check my stomach presurgery. I found out I have acid reflux and of course cancer. No idea, didn't have symptom one. When I went to talk to the doctor I thought it was to schedule the gastric bypass. Instead, it was him telling me that there wouldn't be a bypass because I had cancer. Since then I've had 2 more endoscopes, each with an EMR. After this last one was when the doctor called and said surgery was the next step. From what the dr indicated he is going to do the surgery laparoscopicly. But I need to talk to him further to be sure. When he said surgery my mind kinda went off into a fog(kinda like walking into a dark room and then suddenly being hit in the face with a pillow). I'm preparing a list of questions for him and should learn more this week.

Thanks,

John

Brent_McG
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2012

John, I remember being right where you are. Wondering exactly what was going to happen, scanning posts looking for people who shared their experiences. I thought I would share mine with you and perhaps help ease the stress.

I was diagnosed Feb 3rd 2012 with Esophageal cancer. I couldn't tell you what stage I was because it was never discussed. My surgeon said when he first saw my reports he figured stage 3. But the tumor was the same as your and had not yet spread to surrounding lymph nodes. I immediately started radiation and chemo and had my surgery on May 10th.

My surgery was the THE method. A cut on my neck, a cut on my abdomen, and they took my esophagus out as well as part of my stomach. My surrounding lymph nodes were removed and sent to pathology. They came back negative for any cancer.

My experience was really good actually. I had zero problems and was up and walking the same day I awoke from surgery. By the second day I was walking over a mile, making rounds and rounds of the hallways in the hospital. By day 4 I was given a swallow test which I passed with flying colors. On day 6 I even ate a Burger King breakfast sandwich because I was beyond sick of a liquid diet (yes the nurses freaked out haha). By day 7 they removed my staples and shipped me home. I did have a feeding tube which I used at night to keep my calorie count up.

My pain level was low thanks to medications and I really had no problems. It was hard at first to get comfortable sleeping due to the rearranging of my guts! But that got better day by day. By my second week of being home I pulled out my own feeding tube myself. I was tired of doing feedings and wanted to prove to myself I could eat enough calories by mouth. With the tube gone I obviously had no choice and made 2000 calories a day by mouth.

I ate a lot of eggs, hamburgers, french fries, and chocolate milk (high calorie foods) just to keep my calorie count up around 2000 (daily goal). The docs were impressed by that.

Here it is 3 months out of surgery and I am fine really. I'm back to doing everything I did before as well as eating anything I want with a few exceptions. The only real difference for me now is I am lactose intolerant now and I have to eat smaller portions. I switched from regular milk to soy and have no problems. I also avoid sweets and simple sugars because they just lead to dumping syndrome. I avoided these foods prior to my experience with cancer just for healthy reasons anyway so it wasn't a big deal. No more ice cream and sweets but again that wasn't a problem to give up anyway.

Everyone's experience is going to be different. The biggest thing to remember is keep a positive attitude and never underestimate the power of prayer.

Like I said as of now I am doing great and am only three months post-op. When I first got home I walked the neighborhood everyday. At 2 months post-op I was back to exercising daily; doing weight training as well as 30 minutes of intense cardio everyday (cross country ski machine).

The doctors are blown away by my progress and use me as an example for other patients facing the same surgery. Just stay positive. I know it is extremely hard to do but you have to. Once the surgery is completed and you are recovering, it can only get better. You have gone through the worst of it on the operating table and you are not even awake for that part. Everyday after surgery is 1 day closer to healing and being recovered.

Again the only real change has been the amount of food I can eat at a time and being lactose intolerant. I never had any issues that you may read about from other survivors. I don't even have to sleep in a chair or elevate my head. I sleep in the same position I always have with just a pillow. I never had/have regurgitation problems or any trouble with acidic foods such as tomatoes. In fact I eat tomatoes all day long with no problems.

Again everyone's experience is different but I thought you might find comfort in my experience. Before my surgery I was petrified after reading how some people's experiences went. My biggest fears were that they would find that the cancer had spread and not do the surgery or find a leak during the swallow test. Once I was past those two concerns it was smooth sailing.

Honestly I think the worst part of it all was the waiting for surgery day to hurry up and get here.

Well that's my experience. I hope and will be praying that your experience will be just as good if not better than mine.

Just stay positive my friend and you will do fine!

Hang in there,

Brent

hughesjohnw
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

Full steam ahead. All set for surgery next thursday. This time next week I'll be out of surgery and in ICU. The only good thing I can say is that at least the cancer will be gone. Or at least I hope it will be all gone. I know I'll have to wait and see what future scans and pathology show.

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