Our story

Larry is my husband of 6 years, we have been together for 13. We share 6 grown children and 14 grandchildren, ranging from 22 mos to 14 yrs old. We refer them as "our little people". They are our life.
Ever since I have known Larry he has complained of heartburn. I have suggested to him repeatedly to have this checked out. He said he was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer years before and that he just had to watch what he ate. He is the type of man that avoids Doctor's and doesn't follow their directions anyways. I always mentioned my concern regarding his ulcer during visits and because he minimized it, the Dr always did as well.
Two weeks ago he told me he was having trouble swallowing. I have noticed as well as family members that he has been extremely tired this past year or so, and have seen a rapid decline in his general health and hoarse voice. I made an appointment with a new primary care the next day. this was Sept.7th.Thank God for her! She was immediately concerned, told him right up front that she thought that in the least he had Barret's, and started tests that day. Blood work, EKG, chest xray, and scheduled EGD and colonoscopy for Sept 27th with Gastro. xray showed density in lung. She ordered us to cat scan on the 13th. ct showed it was the esophagus shadowing lung, so she moved scopes up to the 17th. During his scope they took 40 biopsies from esophagus, 3 from stomach, and 1 from colon. 36 from esophagus came back as invasive adenocarcinoma. Stomach and colon were benign. Haital Hernia with 2" protrusion of stomach into esophagus. Gastro said she saw no evidence of ever having ulcer, it was the hernia. Mass is in the wall of esophagus.
Fortunately for us we live in MI about 50 miles from U of M, which does have an Esophageal Cancer Treatment Center. They have suggested we start at our local hospital while Larry continues to have testing to meet their criteria. Our insurance will only cover 50% of testing at U of M so our Drs here are ordering tests at our hospital and are in constant contact with U of M. They have all been wonderful. His biopsy says grade 3. His ct shows 3 lymph nodes that show progression, but not enlarged. Tomorrow we see the local Oncologist, who is general is highly regarded. U of M has said to allow him to get started. Thursday he will have the endoscopic ultrasound for the staging. This week they will schedule a barium swallow and a full body pet scan, then all the testing required for U of M will be done. U of M will schedule appointment with Medical and Radiological Oncology as soon as they have scope results, but he has to meet criteria to see Dr Orringer, who is world renowned Thoracic Surgeon there.
Thank you for such a wonderful welcome.


  • paul61
    paul61 Member Posts: 1,391 Member
    You are in good hands at U of M
    You are certainly in good hands at U of M. Dr. Orringer is the "father" of the transhiatal esophagectomy (THE).

    Click here to see a description of THE at U of M

    My wife and I are retired so we live in Grand Blanc, Michigan in the summer and in McCormick, South Carolina in the winter. I had my treatment and surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina. You will find a number of people here who have been treated by Dr. Orringer and his team and they have nothing but good things to say about his team.

    We will be sending positive thoughts your way for Thursday. The EUS is a benign test and Larry will sleep through most of it. They will be able to give you some information about the staging right after the test and then confirm with the PET scan.

    Hopefully, your insurance has an "out of pocket" maximum. With my tests and chemotherapy and surgery we got to the maximum very quickly. Hopefully if you can do chemotherapy and radiation therapy at your local hospital, by the time you get to surgery at U of M Larry's out of pocket maximum will be reached and the surgery at U of M will be covered 100%.

    Best Regards,

    Paul Adams
    Grand Blanc, Michigan

    DX 10/22/2009 T2N1M0 Stage IIB
    12/03/2009 Ivor Lewis
    2/8 through 6/14/2010 Adjuvant Chemo Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU
    Two year survivor

    Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!
  • morley
    morley Member Posts: 24
    Team at University of Michigan
    Dr. Orringer just did my surgery 2 weeks ago. He is a wonderful surgeon and person. He will want Larry walking 2-3 miles per day before surgery (all through chemo and radiation even) and using an incentive spironometer (sp?) to increase lung capacity. Both really help the recovery process. Dr. Susan Urba is the medical oncologist and Dr. James Hayman is the radiation oncologist. The entire team is excellent. I live in Grand Rapids about 2 hours from UM. I commuted to Ann Arbor for the first couple of weeks but sublet an apartment for the last few weeks of treatment. Fatigue was my biggest problem during chemo/radiation.