Esophageal Cancer – The First Symptom

March 7, 2011

  Our journey of discovery through esophageal cancer and the medical system.

The first symptom we noticed was at our anniversary dinner when food got stuck in Ted’s throat. That was not actually the first symptom.

For years Ted had acid reflux. He complained that I cooked dinner too late and this caused his acid reflux. Yes, I did cook late, but when I cooked earlier he ate something later anyway. We would snack as we watched TV until late into the night. While snacking on popcorn, potato chips, another bowl of chili, or whatever else he found to munch, he drank gallons of coke. Rarely was his glass empty for more than five minutes. He called it our ‘decadent lifestyle’.

Because he often had acid reflux, there was a gigantic bottle of TUMS on his bedside table. There were several other bottles in the ensuite bath, and another bottle in the kitchen. As a precaution, there was even a bottle in the family room, within reach as we watched TV.

The first symptom – the one we never paid any attention to – was his sudden lack of acid reflux. In fact, he had not taken a TUMS in over a week before he even mentioned it to me. He was relieved because the pain had been getting so severe that he thought he might have an ulcer.

If you have persistent acid reflux, there is a good possibility that the constant burning is causing changes in the tissue of your esophagus. This can be checked by a doctor performing an endoscopy. If there are changes to the tissue your doctor will have a heads-up and can keep an eye on it.

Even if there are no changes, there are medications you can take that will help neutralize the acid. Eating habits and diet can be adjusted so that acid reflux is less likely to occur.

If you’ve had long-term acid reflux and it has suddenly – for no apparent reason – disappeared, I urge you to see your doctor immediately. You only get one esophagus, and esophageal cancer is aggressive.

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10 Responses to “Esophageal Cancer – The First Symptom”

  1. I am late reading this blog as I didn’t see it until you visited my blog. Thank you for that. I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved life partner. Thank you for writing this blog and for sharing this information. I too have reflux. It is difficult to control especially if you love Coca Cola, spicy foods, and snacking late at night. (Which I do).

    • kayuk said

      Thanks so much for your comment. I know how you feel because I loved my salt and vinegar chips, suicide ribs and snacking while watching TV. But after watching my husband go through the medical system and all the treatments while getting more and more ill, I can hardly look at a potato chip and rarely eat late at night. I do still love my suicide ribs though.

      Just take care and have your doctor check you regularly to make sure there are no changes in the lining of your esophagus. There are tests now that were not available at that time.

  2. thank you for sharing this…I do hope your husband is well !
    …I have acid reflux and after reading the above comments, realized that when “accidentally” began drinking less coffee, my acid reflux was less!

    • kayuk said

      Thank you. Tears are rolling down my cheeks.This one simple comment has made the entire blog worthwhile.

      I lost my husband after 18 months of chemo, radiation and two surgeries.

      It was a time of borderline unbearable rollercoaster covering the extremes of bliss, horror, hope, excitement, agony, exultation, and defeat all both tempered and exagerated by the strength of thirty years of love and companionship. It was hell on earth, there’s no doubt about that; but there were times, like after the first surgery, when things looked good, that the joy was almost enough to stop my heart.

      • oh my dear Woman, I am so sorry for your tragic loss…you loved him so…so many tears…of course…you loved him with all of your being! I am so sorry…I should have read more before commenting…i apologize for my insensitivity. I wished that i were there with you to give you hugs…to bring you tea..to BE there with you…my heart sends you love crystals…be well! He is surrounding you with love, of this, i am sure…you are speaking to him through your blog and touching the lives of so many of us…you are creating a new memory of him…love to you…

        • Vickie said

          Thank you so much for your concern, and please don’t feel bad. The tears were for happiness that what I write may be helping someone else, not from sadness. I lost Ted five years ago in April, and at that time I would have gladly died myself. For a while I blogged about it because I thought I was ready, but I had to stop for a few years. About 8 months ago I met someone who is helping me to dig my way out of the hole in my life. Things are looking much brighter now.

  3. Jef said

    Your blog is coming alone nicely, Vickie.

    A friend of mine had acid reflux, and his doctor told him to cut out caffeine, so he stopped drinking iced tea and soft drinks. They symptoms went away.

    • kayuk said

      Thanks for that information Jeff. It makes sense since there is a lot of caffeine in coke. I wish my husband had gone to a doctor earlier. Perhaps ‘Stop drinking coke’ would have prevented the necessity for this whole blog. Vickie

  4. kayuk said

    Yes, it will be a continuing progression and it seems that one topic leads to another.

  5. Mark Valcour said

    You present this information in an easy to understand way. One can only hope that others will come to accept that if you’re ‘living on Tums’, you should seriously consider altering your diet and eating habits to compensate. Sadly, I know several people (that I care about) who are on the acid reflux / Tumss ‘teeter totter’. I plan to counsel them about this when the opportunity presents itself.
    Do you plan to elaborate on dietary changes in upcoming blogs?… Good posting!

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