Carol Foshaug

First post: Sep 23, 2022 Latest post: Aug 1, 2023
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Carol's story:
On June 1st, 2022, Carol was officially diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. Her mass is located at the gastrointestinal junction where the esophagus meets the stomach. She began having more prominent symptoms in May beginning with heartburn and having a tough time keeping food down. She had been on a drug called Fosamax for bone density and a side effect can be heartburn. We assumed this would go away after she stopped taking it, unfortunately it didn't. This led her to dehydration at the end of May and eventually the ER, lots of tests in the hospital including an endoscopy and biopsy of the mass they found.  Since she was unable to eat and drink, they put a feeding tube down her nose which she reported was the "worst thing ever." She ended up having several of them over time to ensure she had nutrition. They tried to provide her nutrition other ways like ensure but it was not successful due to the mass blocking the entrance to her stomach. She eventually had a nose feeding tube placed under sedation in St Cloud which she would go on to have for the next months. To this date she has not eaten food since May or had more than a few sips of water orally.

Over the next days, weeks, and months it was a lot of appointments and tests to help get her nutrition, figuring out the exact size, location of the cancer, stage etc. Every time she is put under there seems to be other complications and longer hospital stays than anticipated. She had a port placed at one point as well.

Due to the nature of her cancer the eventual removal will need to happen with a larger hospital and more experienced surgeons. This is when we decided to get a second opinion with Mayo Clinic and start her care with a team there. She had to have several procedures done there over the next weeks including new feeding tubes and another attempt at a staging ultrasound endoscopy (last one was not successful.) After a longer stay in the hospital she was very weak, lost weight and needed more assistance. Luckily, she was able to go to a transitional care center in Willmar to help her regain strength and have regular support. She worked on walking and building strength while there.

Carol eventually was approved by her Mayo team and Willmar team to get a j tube put in her stomach which meant the nose tube would be removed -YAY!! During this procedure there were a few complications, and a stent was put in due to bleeding at her mass. She ended up being in the hospital for 11 days before eventually returning home. Home life has been an adjustment. Everything is through her feeding tube, which is extremely time consuming from flushing water, measuring medications, and injecting them one by one. Carol has in-home nursing visits and support. 

During all of this Carol has been unable to start chemo and radiation until everything was set up properly. There have been many ups and downs both physically and emotionally. Setbacks have been frustrating. She has had AMAZING support from family, friends, and neighbors. She has had people bring her to appointments, stay overnight, check on her, visit, bring gifts, mow her lawn and more. We are extremely grateful to everyone.

After one more delay and the stent being removed in August the SIM mold for radiation was finally able to be made and she was able to start chemotherapy and radiation on the 8th of September! This round of chemo will be once per week for about 5 weeks. She will have radiation 5 days per week for 28 days. Once this is completed there will be a time period for the radiation to leave her body before she will have major surgery to remove the mass. Removal includes part of her esophagus and stomach. This will all be at Mayo.

 We do not have an official stage since they were unable to fully see its location in her stomach. However, they believe 2 or 3. It is not in surrounding lymph nodes or spread elsewhere! We are very hopeful for the words "cancer free" in the future. However, for now we ask for prayers, positive thoughts, encouragement, strength, and love! 

Thank you for following Carol's journey! 
- Carol's family

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