In October 2021 Bridget was experiencing issues with eating, drinking and abdominal pain. With her history of reflux she thought it was possibly related. Upon exam and CT scan a tumor was found in the lower portion of her esophagus. After a biopsy it was discovered to be a “GIST” or Gastrointestinal stromal tumor approx. 2” in size.
A GIST is a soft tissue malignant tumor that carries “mitosis”’ which are the cells that duplicate causing the tumor to grow. Based on the CT they feel the tumor is Stage I meaning that it has not spread anywhere else. The location of a GIST tumor in her esophagus is very rare – typically they’re found in the stomach or intestines. Because of this location she has to have a major surgery called an Esophagectomy. The good news is that the tumor is in the lower portion of her esophagus so they only need to take out a small portion of her esophagus.
After much research, Bridget decided to be treated by Dr. Raphael Pollock MD, PhD (a world renowned soft tissue tumor expert) and his team at Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus. A few years ago Dr. Pollock was lured away from MD Anderson in Houston to run the Cancer Center at OSU. Her lead Surgical Oncologist is Valerie Grignol, MD. She has been thoroughly impressed with the center and feels she’s in the right place :)
Her procedure is two part: January 13th she will have an one day outpatient procedure where they get the stomach ready to accept a new shortened esophagus. January 27th she will have the esophagectomy to take out the section of her esophagus with the tumor (and the margins) and re-attach the esophagus to her stomach. She will be under the care of her young talented thoracic surgeon she calls Doogie Howser (real name Peter Kneuertz, MD). Both procedures will be done as minimally invasive laparoscopic/robotically aided.
Once the tumor is out it will be reexamined (and the margins around it) to determine if there was spread. If Dr. Grignol feels there has been spread beyond the single tumor there could be chemotherapy or radiation required (fingers crossed this is not the case).
The recovery for Bridget will be long. Approximately one week in the hospital followed by 6 weeks at home. Doogie explained that her recovery was much like someone who has gastric bypass because of the stomach manipulation. She’ll have small quantities of a liquid bland diet to start. As she heals, she can work her way up to solid foods in normal portions.
We will use Caring Bridge(t) to keep everyone updated on her procedures and progress.