A website to provide support for people who have or have had any type of cancer, for their caregivers and for their family members.

View Poll Results: What should my dad do now....

Voters
7. You may not vote on this poll
  • Have the surgery, it's not as bad as it sounds.

    1 14.29%
  • Have the surgery, regardless of how bad it is, he should keep fighting

    6 85.71%
  • Skip surgery and just try to make himself as comfortable as you can.

    0 0%
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Looking for advice about my dad's case of esophageal cancer

  1. #1

    Looking for advice about my dad's case of esophageal cancer

    Hello, I am new to this forum, looking for advice that I can pass on to my father who has EC.

    My Dad started experiencing problems eating in August of 2008. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in November 2008. The tumor is located at the bottom of his esophagus - close to where it connects to the stomach. At that time the tumor was estimated to be large - 7 cm.

    He started chemo on 12/4/08. At the end of January, 2009, the PET and CT scans looked great - no signs of cancer. However our oncologist decided to go ahead with radiation as extra insurance. He started radiation every day including 1 day of chem on 2/12/09 and completed the radiation and chemo on 3/26/09.

    In May, 2009 he repeated the PET & CT scans and endoscopy and everything looked great. (There were two questionable lymph nodes in his neck however they were removed and they were not cancerous.)

    However approximately three weeks ago, he started having difficulty eating and chest pain. We were already scheduled to have the PET & CT scans and endoscopy the first week of September. That is when it was discovered that the tumor was back - in the same place, smaller this time - 2-3 cm.

    Now we have been told he could have more chemo but not much more radiation and the best bet would be the - surgery - esphagectomy.

    So now he is torn. He kinda feels that the deck is stacked against him even if he gets the surgery, so why get it. He would rather enjoy his time at home, taking medicine for the pain, than spend a lot more time in the hospital, only to have it come back again, or in another place. We are basically trying to get feedback on peoples experiences in this same situation that either went through with the surgery or not.

    The doctor said that there was no real area of statistics that you could refer to in regards to how many patients have the surgery, how many do not, and what the quality, and length of life is between the two. So I figured the next best thing was to try to find an internet forum, which led me here.


    Thanks for your time and any advice or stories,

    Chris

  2. #2
    Hi, Chris, welcome to the forum. I'm also new, but find reading other experiences so educational. Each case is different, but I hope my story helps you make your decision in some way, or at least provides comfort,

    My dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer in April 2008. The tumor was 4cm, he was diagnosed Stage I. After CT scans, and scopes, they found a tiny speck of cancer on a lymph node and immediately removed it, diagnosing him stage IV. I live in Canada and he had one of the best team of doctors on his side, saying that surgery is the BEST bet for stomach cancer since it fights the chance of re-occurrence the best. He FOUGHT for the surgery, since apparently they are not enthusiastic about putting people that are officially stage IV through it.

    He went through surgery in September, after 3 months of chemo via chest port. Total gastrectomy (his surgeon insisted it was the best way to go), they remade part of his stomach using part of his intestines. They also removed his spleen, gall bladder, many, many lymph nodes and tail of the pancreas. Recovery was DIFFICULT. Once everything heals the body is still getting used to balancing things out. After surgery he went through another 3 months of chemo and then radiation. He was 240, now he is 180lbs.

    I want to let you know this though....

    He just went through his first review a month or so ago and it was clear. He is back at work part days monday to friday and I am so grateful to have the hope that his surgery brought to my family. Is it gone forever? I hope so...but I'm glad to have the chance to be able to hope for that, regardless of what statistics say. Statistics have two sides, remember.

    Is "the best bet" the chance of cure? I would say to seriously consider it. How old is your dad, and how is his health otherwise?

  3. #3
    Hi Chris
    I'm new to the forum.
    My dad was disharged from hospital last week after having this operation.
    He is at home recovering very very slowly.
    He, like your dad, couldnt make his mind up whether or not to go ahead with the operation.
    He decided in the end to go ahead.
    My dad is 76!
    He had the whole gullett removed after months of chemo (his tumor was 3cm in diametre)
    The operation has been a success and he has been told he wont need any more chemo, but there were many complications involved.
    He suffered two heart attacks,a blood clot on one lung,pneumonia on the other lung, a bleeding ulcer, and he spent 3 weeks in intensive care on life support.

    His main concern at the moment is his blood pressure. It's low and making him feel dizzy although the doctors have said they are reluctant to adjust his blood pressure meds as this can affect the heart.
    It's strange that after all of this the cancer is no longer an issue, it's his heart we are having to watch!

    I dont think anyone can advise you as whether or not your dad should go ahead with the op, but I do know one other person who had the op 5 years ago and she is still here getting on with her life.

    Another thing to remember Chris is that the surgeons will not perform the operation unless they think your dad has got a good chance of survival, and also that he is fit enough to endure the op.
    My dad had loads of fitness assesment test done before the op and fortunately for a man his age he was super fit! (he golfs and also walks for miles, doesnt drink or smoke)
    As Krissy says, recovery will be very slow and painful, but if in the end it gives your dad another 5/10 years then I would say go for it.
    Good luck and keep us posted xxx

  4. #4
    Chris,

    This is a tough decision to make, and I know how difficult it will be, which ever direction is chosen. As has been pointed out, every case has to be treated individually. I have found that the doctors provide the best options, and treatments for each patient.

    Recovery from any of the treatments is slow and a challenge for the patient and their families. While this is a difficult cancer, and there are not as many success stories, it is possible to live a number of years with treatment for this disease.

    I am not a medical professional, but I am a 6 year survivor of 3 differant times of having cancer of the esophagus, starting at the age of 51. I was originally classified as stage 2, but due to the location was not able to have surgery. I have had chemo, radiation, photo dynamic therapy, and currently undergoing cryospray ablation treatments, I am otherwise healthy, and am still working 5 days a week.

    Following the doctors instructions, with the support of family and friends, will make a differance. I pray that your father does well with which ever decision you make.

  5. #5
    Hey...I'm new to this forum. But my FIL had chemo/radiation and then the surgery. He's 72. Mind you we had to fight tooth and nail for him to get any treatment in Ontario. He had radiation and chemo in Michigan, in the USA cause they refused to go that route in Ontario. They moved very slowly, and with this being an advanced and fast moving cancer, time was not on our side. He told us he wanted to fight this, so we all stood behind him and fought along for him.
    He had the surgery in Ontario, after some pushing, and some impressive work from the US hospital. He is cancer free, according to his scans. That's pretty amazing....but the problems we are facing now, are the lack of aftercare available to cancer patients.

    Personally, I would fight. But as others have said, it's a personal choice. Just make sure to seek out the right doctors. DO NOT just turn yourself over to a small town local doctor. Take ownership of your healthcare and seek out a specialist who is active in treatment and reasearch and has access to cutting edge treatments and technologies. If we would have listened to our local small town surgeon my FIL had 6 months - to live....or to die. They just gave up on him before they had even "staged" his cancer. The healthcare system gives up on elderly people sometimes, and it's too bad.

    Anyways, good luck. I hope you find your answers.
    Sandy

  6. #6
    My Mother opted out of the surgery..she said "if it's not going to cure me then forget it"My Mother passed away 2 weeks later in hospice. 2 weeks and 5 days before we were down in grafton Il. enjoying the river and my mom was fine. Yes she could only eat liquids at the time ,but she was here.She started having trouble breathing the next day and we got her to the hospital.She was 76 and they said to old for risky surgery and suggested she go into hospice.. 2 weeks later gone..(mind blowing) I wish she would have just chose the surgery.She was not frail and I wish now we had chose surgery.I think the docs gave up on her.. I just feel we could have have kept her longer.. Beware Hospice.. They give them lots of drugs just to make them comfortable till the end.. I think your Dad should go for it.. Good luck and God bless yall... Jeff

  7. #7
    Experienced User
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    89
    ****Beware Hospice.. They give them lots of drugs just to make them comfortable till the end.. ****

    __________________________________________________ _____

    But if they don't give them enough drugs, then what? Let them suffer?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by cari
    ****Beware Hospice.. They give them lots of drugs just to make them comfortable till the end.. ****
    Cari, I'm sorry.. I agree and feel Hospice is a great organization.I just felt the drugs were too much too fast in my moms case.I am glad my mom did not suffer.However I felt she could have made it longer with extended treatment..Even at 76 i now wish in afterthought that she would have gone along and just had the surgery,but then at that age the docs may have not wanted the risk.She just went so fast after she went in hospice and it seemed after the first day she was just delerious,and seeing people in the room who were not there ,and talking out of her head.that was hard to take..It's just hard seeing someone you love go through that.. I dont hold any grudges and feel for any family going through that pain.. take care jeff
    __________________________________________________ _____

    But if they don't give them enough drugs, then what? Let them suffer?

  9. #9
    The reason I voted for this, is it needs to be god if you go for surgery as, this is some where painful but it will remove the tumor permanently.

    One of the member from my family gone through the same problem and he was advised for surgery as he was getting the tumor again and it really got so worse for him.

    After, having the surgery he was fine now and not getting any symptoms of tumor though it was very painful but, prevention is better then cure.

    Thanks

 

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