Survivor Spotlight: Rachel Long

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is honored to share Rachel’s story. Rachel’s experiences highlight the dire need for early detection and improved and regular screenings. Thank you, Rachel for sharing your story!

“I was diagnosed in September 2021 with esophageal cancer, after being sick for months and two emergency room visits. I had an endoscopy that showed chronic inflammation, uncontrollable Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and Barrett’s Esophagus. My pathology came back from the endoscopy as high grade dysplasia, or stage 0 Adenocarcinoma. I had an ablation the same day.

I was still having a lot of issues swallowing and was sent for a Barium Swallow, Esophagram, and Esophageal Manometry. I was diagnosed with dysphagia and esophageal motility disorder and the radiologist who did my tests said it was the worst he’s ever seen and mine was “significantly abnormal.”

In June of 2022 I was scheduled and underwent a Nissen Fundoplication to treat and prevent my GERD from doing any more damage. While in surgery my doctor saw it was best to remove the damaged part of my esophagus as the damage was “extensive” and instead of having to biopsy it and wait and potentially have another surgery, my surgeon opted to do a partial Esophagectomy and 5cm of my esophagus was removed and sent off.

We got pathology back a few weeks later and my official staging changed to T1A, but clear margins from the surgery!

I am thankful every day that my surgeon took the initiative and took such an aggressive approach because it’s such an aggressive disease, I don’t know how I lucked out but I don’t take a single day for granted!

Esophageal cancer needs early detection! We NEED a routine and standard screening to detect esophageal cancer at its earliest stages, I am living proof of that every day!”

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),
  • obesity,
  • 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. 

For more information about esophageal cancer, please visit the following links:

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