My Personal Narrative: How We Found Out About My Fother’s Cancer

It was the worst day of my life on September 27, 2017 because I found out that my papa, Larry, had esophageal cancer. Papa found out he had esophageal cancer when he was having difficulty swallowing certain foods. He went to TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital and working with Andrew Chun, MD, a GI doctor at the TriHealth Digestive Institute, he underwent a series of test that confirmed the diagnosis. Papa had esophageal cancer.

So I questioned my Mimi, “What is esophageal cancer?”

She acknowledged that I was concerned, “Esophageal cancer is a cancer of the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach.” Fortunately, the cancer was caught early and was contained to the esophagus because if not he could get ammonia. Still, it would take an aggressive approach for Papa to beat this cancer and so he was referred to the TriHealth Cancer Institute.

After significantly shrinking the cancer in Papa’s esophagus, he was ready to have it removed completely. This would be done through a surgery called an esophagectomy, which involves removing the bottom half of his esophagus and the top half of his stomach and then reconnecting the two ends.

TriHealth’s investment in state-of-the-art robotic technology would allow a minimally-invasive procedure. TriHealth surgeons used robotic technology to perform complex procedures, many of which would normally require a large open incision, but his was small because of the robotic surgery.

Dr. Dunki-Jacobs told my family that, “Any surgical treatment of esophageal cancer is going to involve a very difficult recovery, but the recoveries of most patients have been remarkable.

Robotic surgery allows the surgeon to perform minimally invasive surgery with an improved level of sophistication and precision.” This is how my Mimi explained it to me. After his surgery was finished, they stuck a tube up his nose. When I saw him, he was pale and didn’t look good because he had a tube up his nose and he also had a feeding tube in his stomach.

My Mimi also shared with me that Dr. Dunki-Jacobs acknowledged to us that robotic surgery, also greatly reduces the risk of wound infection that can be associated with larger incisions, as well as the risk of ammonia, that can occur if patients aren’t able to take deep breaths after surgery due to pain.

During the 1st surgery his blood pressure dropped so they stopped the surgery, I called my mom after I got out of school to ask her what was going on. When she told me that his blood pressure dropped I was in tears, crying my eyes out. The doctors decided to try it again the next day, it worked and the cancer was removed. He had to be on a feeding tube and had to have liquid food only for 3 months.

I’m so thankful that Papa is healthy again. I’m glad that Dr. Dunki-Jacobs was with us through this frightening experience for me and my family. I learned my lesson of being thankful for everything Dr. Dunki-Jacobs and TriHealth Cancer Institute did for my Papa and Mimi throughout this journey. Have you ever had a loved one with esophageal cancer or any type of cancer in general?

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