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Pain beginning 5 months after esophageal cancer surgery

Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2009

I have a lifelong friend, who had surgery (I think it was the Ivor Lewis procedure) by an outstanding surgeon at a teaching hospital (UAB) in Birmingham, Alabama. The surgery was 2 years ago next week, and everything was and is going well. Minimal problems with reflux; no signs of cancer recurrence. Doctors all say that it was discovered as quickly as it ever can be and had not spread. The surgical procedure involved an incision from the front and from the back. As I understand it, the back entrance involved separating two ribs. About five months after the surgery, she began experiencing intense pain that radiated from her sternum all the way around to her back. She describes it as an intense burning pain that wakes her up and keeps her up . . . but she may have a good night/day or two or three. She has had Lyrica for the pain and recently had an epidural, but there was no significant change. At the onset, she had the sensation that something was leaking, but returned to B'ham and extensive tests, with no indication of that problem.

Here is a strange thing that alleviates the pain: first it was cold liquid that helped somewhat at the onset; then, somehow, she started eating fudgesicles. That seems to be the only thing that helps. Has anyone had the problem with this burning pain? She has been going to a pain clinic, and that physician is suggesting sending her back to someone at UAB for a more definitive diagnosis and recommended treatment.

I love my friend very much, and would appreciate any similar experiences that anyone is willing to share. Thanks!!!

Janet in Alabama

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Janet,
Welcome. Wow, that is so strange that it is fudgesicles that help her with the pain. Never heard of such a thing. Sounds crazy, but hey....if it works, go for it! How about having an ultra sound done, or an m r i? If she has not had one already. Maybe it is coming from a pinched nerve in her back. Pinched nerves usually cause a burning sensation. Hmmm....I am stumped, but keep having her getting it checked, until she gets and answer! Please keep us updated, and I will put you and she in my prayers. God Bless you for being such a good friend.


Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi, Tina!

Thanks for the response. My friend, Suzanne, is hopefully going to follow through and go to B'ham for a consultation after Christmas. The pain doctor finds it very strange that the cold anything provides relief and thinks it may be something perhaps even unrelated. I do appreciate your prayers!!! I hate doing this, but I will nag her until she gets some further information/diagnosis. I will even go with her and her husband to B'ham, where her daughter lives, if she wants. While it doesn't seem to be life-threatening, it truly makes her unable to do almost anything that requires being away from home for more than an hour because the pain can start at any time. I love and miss her and the things we were able to do together for so long.

Huntsville, Alabama

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