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Ben started getting hiccups while eating around November or December of 2016. They picked up in frequency around January and Paula suggested that Ben talk to his doctor about them. Since hiccups are a rather benign symptom (usually, we will find) his doctor took a wait and see approach. The hiccups became more frequent, stronger in intensity and a bit longer in duration. Paula suggested that Ben talk to his diabetes Nurse Practitioner at his upcoming appointment and suggested that he might need a scan of some sort. Ben saw the NP and she agreed and talked to his doctor about the problem. A barium swallow study was ordered. The day before the barium study, Ben got a case of the hiccups at work while eating lunch in his office. He was walking around to try and relieve the hiccups when all of a sudden he passed out. He banged himself up pretty good but drove home (and was scolded by his nagging wife). Paula became more concerned and insisted Ben make a follow-up appointment with his doctor right away.
Ben went to the barium study that next morning and before noon had a personal phone call from his physician stating that something was seen on the esophagram and that he would be seeing Ben that Friday and would be ordering an EGD that Friday as well. Paula already knew that this couldn't be good news as a doctor very rarely personally contacts a patient to tell them about upcoming tests, etc.
We had the EDG and a 3 cm tumor was found at the bottom of his esophagus close to where it connects with the stomach. The tumor was blocking all but 10 mm of the interior part of the esophagus where the tumor is. They were very surprised that Ben wasn't having problems with swallowing or getting food stuck or having any pain. The gastro doc was pretty confident it was cancer but needed to take biopsies to confirm. She was so confident that it was cancer that she told us to go ahead and get a referral to Oncology even before the biopsies were back.
We met with Oncology that next Tuesday and they confirmed that Ben had Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. They wanted him to get a PET scan and an esophageal ultrasound to stage the cancer. Insurance denied the PET scan so a CT was done instead. The CT showed no spread to organs but there were a few inflamed lymph nodes. A PET scan was then finally approved to see if the lymph nodes were cancerous.
PET scan was performed this past Wednesday and esophageal ultrasound was done on Thursday. Biopsies were taken of some lymph nodes in the stomach and were positive for cancer.
We met with Oncology again this past Friday and the official diagnosis is Stage III B Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. The doctors are hopeful since Ben is young and otherwise in good shape. We will start right away on Monday meeting with Radiation Oncology to map out a plan for radiation and having surgery to insert a port for Chemotherapy. The plan is to have 5-6 weeks of radiation (daily during week days) and chemo (once per week). He will have a few weeks to recover, have a repeat PET scan to see how the therapies have worked and then probably will go to Milwaukee to have the tumor and lymph nodes removed. He will also get a feeding tube placed in the next few weeks since he will most likely not be able to eat well once radiation starts. They want to keep his calorie count up as much as possible for healing so he will have to get liquid nutrition through a tube in his stomach.
This will be a long, hard journey but we know our Lord is with us every step of the way and that we have many friends and family members praying for us and willing to help us in any way they can. Thank you all for your support!