The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is honored to share Lee’s courageous story. Lee, who just celebrated his 79th birthday earlier this year, was diagnosed in June 1996 with Stage 4 esophageal cancer. Thank you, Lee for sharing your story!
“The health care system advocates for early detection and early treatment to yield the best results for medical conditions. What happens when these options are not available? This is what happened to me.
June 1996 I was experiencing trouble with swallowing. After seeing my family doctor, he referred me to a gastroenterologist. The gastroenterologist scheduled an appointment to stretch my trachea, saying this was not an uncommon procedure for someone my age (52). The procedure could not be completed because of a tumor that was found at the GI juncture. I was referred to a hospital that specialized in cancer (Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA). The diagnosis was Stage 4, stomach and esophageal cancer. After resections of both my stomach and esophagus, of which less than 20% was able to be saved, I underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After almost two years of treatment and follow-up appointments, my prognosis was looking better and better.
July 2023 will mark 27 years since my operation. In the interim, I got to see my children married and experience the joy of having 11 grandchildren, as well as continuing to live life to its fullest with my wife, Carol. My condition has caused a lot of physical changes in me with which I have learned to adapt. I will not complain. I continue to look forward to the future, especially now that I know I have one!”
Learn the facts about esophageal cancer:
-Esophageal cancer has increased over 733% in the past four decades and is considered the fastest growing cancer in the US and western world.
-Risk factors include:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, acid reflux, chronic heartburn),
- poor nutrition,
- tobacco use,
- excessive alcohol use,
- Barrett’s esophagus.
-As one of the deadliest cancers, esophageal cancer has a 5-year survival rate of only 20.6%.
-There are no routine or standard screenings to improve early detection of esophageal cancer.
-Symptoms often arise late once the cancer is considered advanced or “distant” (spread to lymph nodes and other organs.)
-Stage IV esophageal cancer has a survival rate of only 5.7%.
-In 2023, an estimated 21,560 will be diagnosed and there will be an estimated 16,120 deaths.
-Despite all these facts, esophageal cancer research is extremely underfunded.
The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation awarded two research grants, the first in 2015 and the second in 2018. The research awarded in 2018, a breath test for esophageal cancer, is currently underway. The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation opened our Grant Program for the third time and plan to award funding in 2023. All grants are awarded in honor of all the men and women affected by esophageal cancer.