The Fifth Gate-My Introduction to Esophageal Cancer


DECEMBER 2000 – My Introduction to Esophageal Cancer

My introduction to esophageal cancer came from a chance meeting with a woman I had not seen in twenty years and whose husband died from this disease.

I had never heard of esophageal cancer. As she unfolded her story, I felt my unease unfolding, as if I had entered a dark forest and I couldn’t shake the fear of something following me. DSCN3780

After listening to her account, I gathered my courage and asked her what made her husband seek medical attention. When she identified her husband’s swallowing difficulties as the major  he sought help, a full-blown fear turned my stomach. For several months I was all too familiar with watching my husband experience difficulties swallowing. I have no doubt our meeting saved my husband’s life.

In December, she telephoned me. It was then that I told her about Werner’s advanced esophageal cancer diagnosis. She said, when I told you about my husband I sensed something  was going on within you based on the questions you began asking. She expressed her sadness about Werner’s diagnosis and ended our telephone conversation  with, “Please don’t research this cancer.” I didn’t heed her warning.

For me to be a member of Werner’s support team, I needed every tool available to help me help him. Pursuing a forbidden curiosity was not my motive to research esophageal cancer. Yet because of my friend’s warning, I felt a bit like I was about to pick forbidden fruit.

I needed to know how this cancer behaved, what treatment options were available, and how those treatments affected the prognosis. Ignorance would not make me a good team member. I hit search on my computer and entered the cancer web sites, better known to me as the gate-keeper treatment options and prognosis places. I visited too many cancer sites to count and discovered more about adenocarcinoma at the stomach junction than I wanted to know.

Before I post the rest of The Fifth Gate, keep in mind, my experience with the online esophageal cancer information was from the year 2000. During the fourteen years since our experience, new research into esophageal cancer has helped in treating this cancer. I add this so as not to discourage hope to the people now in treatment, their spouses, caregivers and families.