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Open esophagectomy

Posts: 155
Joined: Feb 2013

We saw the doctors yesterday and they said if dad has the surgery it will be an Open esophagectomy.   The doctor felt the MEI wouldn't be the best option because of diff. getting to certain lymphnodes for removal.  The surgeon said he was presenting dad's case during a tumor meeting this evening to get other feedback.  The hesitation  the surgeon has is due to all the surgical set backs my father had in the beginning with J-tube infection and all the chances of major complications.  Unfortantly, he said he will have to place another J-tube to supplement nutrition but is very aware of infection possiblity with second so he will watch that closely.  Worse case scenerio he would have to remove it again and dad would be fed through IV.  He could call us tommorrow and say it's not worth the risk and dad said if that's the case it is what it is at this point.  When the surgeon spoke about the complications and all the tubes after surgery, it freaked my father out, me too!!!  It sounds so scary and I left thinking, is it worth it? Should we just be happy with the complete response to chemo/radiation and start marking off things on my dad's bucket list?  It's Dad's decision, we all know that, but the thought of this surgery is making me very nervous. MEI vs. Open Esph is a totally different ball game.  I pray God gives my dad some clarity to make this decision easier for him.

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2013

My father was diagnosed esophageal tumor last week, tomorrow we will get the biopsy results. If everithing goes ok he will have the surgery next week, the doctors will have to replace a part of his esophagus. We are also very scared but I pray that everything goes well. I saw on this site a lot of esophageal cancer survivours and this is a great confort for me.

Posts: 155
Joined: Feb 2013

Dad had the Ivor Lewis 4/1/13.  The surgery itself went well, but the recovery has been a little tough.  For us, Dad has had a lot of freakish things happen to him since being dx in 9/2013.  Had port, j-tube place in 10/2013 to prepare for chemo and he got an infection that made him sepsis and spent 2 weeks in hospital.  They had to remove the j-tube and he was left with an open wound the size of a grapefruit.  Then since he couldn't depend on J-tube for nutrition we had to do everything in our power to get him to eat during the radiation and chemo.  They ended up having to put a stent in because it was too difficult to swallow, then after 2 weeks of radiation the stent moved so they had to remove immediatly. Which was a good sign telling us the radiation was shrinking tumor.  My father's tumor was 7.7cm, the biggest I've seen on here right at the junction of stomach. Then he lost about 90lbs in 3 months because of poor nutrition.  However they knew it was hard because he didn't have j-tube.  Then when it came time to have pet scan after chemo was done we were told that he had a complete response. That the tumor was gone and the lymphnodes were clear now.  We wanted to celebrate but we knew in the back of our minds that his best chance of survival was surgery.  They said they didn't want to do it, said it was too risky.  His nutrition was poor, weight loss high, 6 stents in heart, diabetic, High bloood pressure. Well since he lost all of that weight he hasn't been having to take Diabetes or HTN meds.  They gave us 2 weeks to get him healthier and based on what they saw they would decide if surgery was safe for dad. Well he did improve, and it took a little tiny bit of  a push, but they agreed to do it.

Dad did great during surgery, it was the ventalator that was hard. He couldn't breath on his own for 5 days, so they had to leave him on ventalator. That was the hardest part for me.  They had him sedated, but he still looked awake enough to me to know what was going on. (He doesn't remember) The surgery scheduler told us to stop our plavix 5 days prior, should have been 7 so that meant he couldn't get the epidural for pain.  They do it the same day as surgery so that when  a patient wakes the pain isn't going to cause them to asperate(fluid in lungs).  I believe that we wouldn't have had the breathing problems if it was put in the day of surgery, but dad chose to go ahead with surgery and get the epidural the next morning. Well they missed the 1st time, and got it in on day 3.  However, his lungs just wouldn't fuction right. Myself and the doctor were kind of shocked because dad had about 4 surgeries prior to this and never had a problem with lungs. This surgery will cause some breathing problems, don't get me wrong, but dad had so much mucos in the lungs that he couldn't breath on his own.  Good news is he has improved, and he's doing much better. Off the vent and on oxygen. The things that we were terrified about like infection, leaking at surgery site, and blood clots hasn't happened and praying they don't. He passed his swallow test Monday so we are on the road to recovery.

Everyones experience with surgery is different, but I can tell you that my father's health wasn't the greatest because of chemo and other set backs.  The doctor told us before the surgery, "This is a very difficult surgery and I want you to remember that if anything happens you have to trust the fact that I will do everything in my power to fix it. I just don't want you guys to get to a point that if something goes wrong and you loose faith it will keep him from healing." The doctor expected my father to have complications, kept saying he would be type B for healing, not the usual Type A.  Well if it wasn't for this wonderful surgeon I don't know what would have happened.  I know we listened and kept the faith and he's slowly healing. I dont know where your going for surgery, but it is very important to research the doctors experience. Paul gave me the best advice, I asked how many he did, what his mortality rate was etc.....

My dad was T3N1MO

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