By Jeffrey R. Galas
Last July, an issue with swallowing food caused me to ask why, but I didn’t think twice until it was repeated two more times at three-week intervals. At that time, I moved my annual physical ahead from Oct. 26 to Oct. 6, at which time I insisted to my local doctor of a scope of the area in question. On Oct. 10, it was determined that there was a tumor, and biopsies confirmed a malignant tumor. I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
I immediately went online and looked toward Rush University Medical Center. The specialist in Barrett’s esophagus with minimally invasive surgery was Dr. Gary Chmielewski.
Upon meeting him, I knew he was the surgeon I wanted. He requested two more tests to confirm the diagnosis, after which a port was placed in me. On Oct. 25, I had a consultation with the team of doctors who would be handling my case, including Dr. Chmielewski, a thoracic surgeon; Dr. Sohrab Mobarhan, a gastroenterologist; and Dr. William T. Leslie of hematology/oncology.
Dr. Leslie chose the chemo treatment for my case, and surgery would take place after 12 treatments (depending on results). After eight treatments, the results were impressive, and surgery came sooner then anticipated — on Feb. 27, 2012.
By Gary W. Chmielewski, MD
No patient represents the importance of the “mind-body” connection like Jeff Galas.
When I saw Mr. Galas in the fall of 2011 for his newly diagnosed cancer of the esophagus, for all practical purposes on the surface he looked like he would proceed directly to surgical for treatment. On further staging workup, though, he was found to have possible liver metastasis on PET scanning, and at that point surgery was off the table. Chemotherapy would likely be his only option.
When given the dire news, Mr. Galas was his usual positive self and said “Don’t worry, doc, I am going to be the poster child for esophageal cancer. You will be operating on me yet.”
We already had a multidisciplinary team in place consisting of a surgeon, radiation oncologist and a oncologist — so Dr. William Leslie from oncology weighed in on the treatment options. To his credit, instead of recommending the standard agents, he suggested a new regime consisting of FOLFOX that has shown promise in metastatic GI cancers. Mr. Galas sailed through this regime, and when we restaged him, there was no evidence of metastasis.
Being cautiously optimistic, the Coleman Clinic GI team reviewed his case and presented his options of proceeding with radiation treatment or the original option of a minimally invasive esophagectomy if liver biopsy confirmed no disease. Mr. Galas opted for surgery and the minimally invasive approach. At time of laparoscopy, liver biopsy showed no signs of cancer spread to the liver, and a minimally invasive esophagectomy was completed. Mr Galas was home 10 days later, tolerating a diet and resuming many of his normal activities. Because a minimally invasive approach was used, he was able to restart his chemotherapy after only four weeks post-operatively. I am certain Mr. Galas’s positive mindset contributed to his excellent response to date.
Gary W. Chmielewski, MD, is a thoracic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center.
By Kelly Kinnare
My interest in nutrition began when I was 15 years old. As a young athlete, struggling with iron deficiency anemia, I started learning how nutrients affected my body. I learned how to manage my condition with food and was taught to consume foods rich in iron, such as red meat or spinach, with foods high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers or oranges.
I knew I wanted to specialize in nutrition support from the minute I calculated my first tube feeding and parenteral nutrition prescriptions in my dietetic internship here at Rush University. After becoming a registered dietitian (RD), I pursued a specialty in gastrointestinal (GI) and transplant surgery because of my passion for nutrition support. I continue to be amazed by the way nutrition can improve my patients’ outcomes. Continue reading
Berry receives the Rush Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1987.
By Nathalie Wheaton and Rene Ruzicka
Gastroenterologist Leonidas H. Berry was born in 1902 in Woodsdale, North Carolina. He earned his M.D. from Rush Medical College in 1929, when Rush was affiliated with the University of Chicago. In 1933, he received his M.S. degree in pathology from the University of Illinois Medical School. He was the first black physician appointed to the medical attending staffs at Cook County Hospital and Michael Reese Hospital.
Berry offered contributions in the field of gastroenterology, including the creation of the Eder-Berry biopsy gastroscope in 1955. He set up one of the first gastroscopy clinics in the United States while serving as chairperson of the Gastroenterology Division of Provident Hospital. And he was the first American physician to use the fiber-optic gastro-camera.
He authored almost a hundred articles and contributed to 12 books and monographs, including the comprehensive textbook Gastrointestinal Pan-Endoscopy. Additionally, he authored a genealogical history of his family entitled, I Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ For My Journey: Two Centuries of an Afro-American Minister’s Family, which was published in 1982. Continue reading
Exercise, relaxation and breathing exercises, yoga and meditation are common stress management techniques.
By Sharon Jedel, PsyD
Here are 10 tips for managing stress and IBD from Sharon Jedel, a psychologist with the Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Rush University Medical Center.
1. Identify and manage major stressors in your daily life. While stress does not cause inflammatory bowel disease, research has demonstrated that it may trigger flare-up. It is therefore important to recognize what causes significant stress in your life and take action to decrease these stressors.
2. Reach out to family and friends for ongoing social support. Do not isolate!
3. Educate yourself about your disease. The more you know about your IBD, the more you can advocate for yourself. Stay informed about new developments in treatment, including medications.
4. Find a doctor you trust. Not every doctor is for every patient. If your doctor is not meeting your needs, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion.
5. Connect with other IBD patients. As supportive as family and friends may be, they may not be able to relate to exactly what you are going through and what you are concerned about. It may be helpful to speak with other IBD patients, either in-person or online.
6. Adhere to medication. Make sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed. Do not make changes to your medication without consulting your doctor first. Continue reading