A ‘Life-Changing’ Experience After Cancer Diagnosis

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.

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