Esophageal Cancer: When the Grim Reaper Darkens Your Door Part I

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27

Yep, we merrily go along living our lives and suddenly, everything comes crashing down. That is the place that my family is in now. I always knew that our plan to exit California would be contingent on certain things happening or not happening—making allowances for elderly parents was what I had in mind—but the unexpected and unanticipated happened from another vector altogether. You see my wife has esophageal cancer.

Unlike my experience with skin cancer, cutting it out and stitching up the hole won’t work on this one.

Nope, by the time you have symptoms, you’re probably hosed.

Here’s some quotes from research that I did.

Unfortunately, most esophageal cancers do not cause symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat.

Trouble swallowing
The most common symptom of esophageal cancer is a problem swallowing (called dysphagia). It can feel like the food is stuck in the throat or chest, and can even cause someone to choke on their food. This is often mild when it starts, and then gets worse over time as the cancer grows and the opening inside the esophagus gets smaller.

When swallowing becomes harder, people often change their diet and eating habits without realizing it. They take smaller bites and chew their food more carefully and slowly. As the cancer grows larger, the problem can get worse. People then might start eating softer foods that can pass through the esophagus more easily. They might avoid bread and meat, since these foods typically get stuck.

Signs and Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer

The 5-year survival rate for esophageal cancer is alarmingly low.

It’s essentially a death sentence. Just HOW does esophageal cancer cause death?

The 10-year survival rate of this cruel disease is virtually zero, says Alex Little, MD, a thoracic surgeon with a special interest in esophageal and lung cancer, and clinical professor at the University of Arizona.

That’s because almost always, it’s discovered after it’s already spread.

Furthermore, esophageal cancer grows and spreads quickly.

How does esophageal cancer eventually kill a person?

There are two types of esophageal cancer, each with different risk factors:

Cancers that start in gland cells at the bottom of the esophagus are called adenocarcinomas. This type of cancer is the most common esophageal cancer. It usually occurs closer to the stomach. Chronic acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett’s esophagus and chronic heartburn can increase your risk of developing adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer.

Esophageal Cancer

Per Dr. Fauci’s agency are these Esophageal Cancer Facts

5-year survival rate 19.9 %
1 % of all new cancer cases
2.6 % of all cancer deaths

In 2021, it is estimated that there will be 19,260 new cases of esophageal cancer and an estimated 15,530 people will die of this disease.

Cancer Stat Facts: Esophageal Cancer

Oh, sorry you woke people but race and gender matter with this cancer.

Among 2025 patients, 87.9% were White and 12.1% were Nonwhite. Median survival was 18.7 months for Whites vs 13.8 months for Nonwhites (p = 0.01).

Survival Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in Early Esophageal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, the percentages of people who live for at least five years after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer (taking into account that some people with esophageal cancer will have other causes of death) is 43% for localized cancer to the esophagus, 23% for cancer that has spread regionally, and 5% with distant cancer spread.

Esophageal Cancer

The male to female ratio of the esophageal cancer incidence is 3:1.

Esophageal Cancer: Should Gender Be Considered as an Influential Factor for Patient Safety in Drug Treatment?

I grant that I tend to be the cup half empty kind of guy, but can you blame me after reading the above?

Meanwhile my wife leans to the unicorns and rainbows end of the spectrum, but she too is making preliminary plans to make radical changes in her life. In fact after I wrote a draft of this post, she got the biopsy results and 20 minutes later quit her job.

We had plans to do other things but right now they are on hold. Folks we could use some prayers for a whole host of decisions that we are expected to make in a very short amount of time. Whether God heals my wife or not, is up to Him. My biggest concern is for our teenaged son.

For more information, here are two videos for your consideration. In the first video, Christine talks about her diagnosis of esophageal cancer. The second video is an announcement of her death five months after her original diagnosis. Oh, Christine was 34 years old. Sobering stuff.