Nicole H.’s father, Jon V., was diagnosed in February, 2017, with esophageal cancer. She is hosting The Organic Gallery Pop Up Art Show and Fundraiser on Sunday, April 29, 2018, at the White Butterfly in Jackson, New Jersey, to benefit The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation.
Jon shares his experience with esophageal cancer below:
I can’t even spell it, much less “have” it! Ask around….. significant heartburn, acid reflux and the pain and burning that goes with it, burping a burning substance….. often! If you had these symptoms or were significantly over weight or had a history of years of smoking…. or drinking excessive alcohol…. the obvious flaws in your general health profile…. then you had cause to pay attention and have some concern. I had nothing like this to alert me. I was somewhat overweight but not grossly so. My family now tells me I had a cough, one they noticed but that was so “mild” that it never caught my attention.
I’m a singer (barbershop quartet) and I typically sing for an audience scores of times a year. In the very busy singing season of December 2016 when the quartet was singing up to 5-6 gigs a day, I began having significant chest and abdominal pain such that I’d hold on to my chest as we rode gig to gig, “assemble” myself for a 20 minute set, and press on from there. I then knew something was wrong. By the end of December, I had lost 30 pounds because it was painful to eat. Yes, there was a problem.
After my family doctor referred me to my gastroenterologist who did an endoscopic exam with a biopsy, the reality stood out bold and tall. It turns out I had a tumor at the base of my esophagus and a CT scan revealed that the cancer had metastasized to a lymph node in the celiac access. This was a complex cancer.
I learned that being sick is a full time job. I had a port installed to facilitate the chemotherapy I had coming and a PEG tube to ensure I could receive nourishment as needed to keep from starving. Between twelve weeks of chemotherapy treatments and the great discomforts that accompany them, and the many weeks of radiation treatments that drain you of all of your energy, I was rendered powerless. It still had to be done.
Cancer and treatments make one susceptible to nausea and the pain killers make constipation and/or diarrhea real issues. I was blessed to have neither….. but, I did get to participate in blood clots cancer can promote which put me in the hospital for ten days and removed surgical alternatives from my available treatment options.
Finally, when my alternatives were weighed, the statistics for further chemotherapy or further radiation simply did not support participation in such. It was/is, instead, time to seek control of pain, the capacity to eat meals and the best one can do to have some stamina. What is then left is to pursue quality of life, make the best of the time remaining.
The oncologist and the radiologist who have treated me have both brought great compassion and skill to their mission. I am grateful for their work. Now, I have but one practitioner to whom I can turn. I am comforted to know that He brings perfection in all He does.
By: Jon Vickers
The Organic Gallery Pop Up Art Show and Fundraiser will feature local art and photography talent benefiting The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation. The Organic Gallery works to bring local art and environment together to enhance the art and create a one of a kind, relaxed art experience. The art show is outdoors and live music from local musicians is also part of the event. Refreshments will be served. 25% of all art sales will go to The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation. Please come out and support local artists and underfunded research of esophageal cancer. To learn more about the event, please visit: Facebook.com/events/204851360104711