Esophageal Cancer Life Expectancy

Bart Frazzitta reflects on esophageal cancer life expectancyWhen I look back at the time I was diagnosed, I was told my esophageal cancer life expectancy wasn’t very good. When the doctors told me I had a 5 – 10% chance of living 5 years, I felt as if my life had been destroyed. What I didn’t know then is that life is precious, and I needed to pay attention to what was missing in my life.

My first reaction to the news about my esophageal cancer life expectancy was to look back on all the years I had worked to have a better place to live and provide my family with a financial security. Now, there was doubt if I could enjoy the fruits of my labor. I realized that I needed balance in my life. It can’t be job, job, job, and then oh, by the way, spend some time with the family and throw in God during a spare moment or two.

My job Was At The Core Of Who I Am

I looked back at my life and it was definitely job-oriented. My job, for the most part, came first. It was my life. If I had a spare moment in the evening or on weekends, I was thinking about the job, how to handle an employee, get more business, or finish a project that was taking too long to complete. My success at work defined my self image and that took precedence over everything.

Esophageal Cancer Life Expectancy Turns Into Life Is Precious

Learning my esophageal cancer life expectancy prognosis and going through chemo, radiation and surgery gave me a new perspective on how to live my life. I came to realize that life is precious.

I needed to look at myself, not with a business success image, but rather as a person on a journey enjoying life’s experiences and growing more in love with my family, appreciating my friends and realizing that I am special in God’s eyes.

Esophageal cancer was a rude awakening for me and it helped me change my prospective on what life is all about. Yes, the job is important, but the family comes first.

God Showed Me The Way

When we are born we bring a new light into this world and that is our gift from God, and what we do over our lifetime with that light (our life) is our gift to Him. If I were to die based on the statistics the doctors gave me, how bright would that light be in God’s eyes?

The light would show a successful business man, financially sound, providing for his family but short on allowing the time necessary to build a strong relationship with his family or things other than the job.

If there are positives that come out of having esophageal cancer, I am experiencing them. Ginny and I have worked with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in their Patient to Patient Program and we have spoken to over 1,000 patients who have esophageal cancer.

We also formed the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation (ECEF) to help make people more aware of this disease, to support research projects that will lead to early detection, and to walk the journey with patients and their families.

In my mind, our light is getting brighter. People are seeing that light and wanting to know more about it.  When they see what we are doing, they are positive and supporting it, and we say thank you to all of them for that support.

As I say, life is precious and you need to take time to look at a flower in your garden or a bird in a tree and see God’s work at hand.  Be thankful that you can see; recognize and enjoy that precious moment. Life is full of precious moments.

Stay focused and enjoy.

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Bart Frazzitta is an esophageal cancer survivor and the founder of the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation (ECEF). Read more of his story here >

24 Comments



24 Responses to Esophageal Cancer Life Expectancy

  1. My husband was Dx. With esphogeal cancer stage 1 in March 2011, had surgery May 3, 2011. The surgeons were so sure that he best it. We asked to get radiation or chemo for assurance due to the fact that he was strong. They said no, not necessary. Every 6 months, he would get blood test and CAT scan. After 2 yrs. if all tests revealing negative results, although experiencing chronic pain every time he ate in those 2 yrs. They were convinced that it was doubting syndrome, that that happens to some patients with that time of surgery. We asked for PET Scan or MRI and they still continued to insist that it was not necessary, cause tests were negative. Second year they told us that check ups would be yearly now, being he was doing so well. Well six months into the year, he felt pain in a leg and They told me to take him to the ER and there he was DX with stage IV. and I lost him in less than 2 months. I truly believe there was negligence. This was a very strong and active 63 year old, who was complaining of chronic pain since after surgery.

    • bart says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your husband.

      I am a 16 year survivor of esophageal cancer and I had a stage 3 tumor and was told post surgery that I had a 5-10% chance of living 5 years. You just never know what is right or wrong. Maybe a second opinion would have been in order but given the favorable diagnosis and it being a stage 1 cancer the fear of recurrence should have been remote.

      God’s plan was to bring your husband home and as much as that hurts being in the arms of a loving and caring God means there is no more pain for him.

      Take care Vivian

      Bart

      • Emily says:

        Bart,

        Your story is very inspiring. I lost my mom to stomach cancer stage 4 a year ago and this week my father has been diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer with a year to live. What do you recommend? Right now treatment is to start with chemo and radiation and then surgery and then more chemo and radiation. Where were you treated? can you give any advice?

        • bart says:

          Hi Emily

          I had my chemo, radiation and surgery done at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The protocol you mention (chemo radiation and surgery) is the normal proper approach to treating stage 3 patients. He should only need chemo post surgery if they find the cancer in lymph nodes or it is an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. If you need a surgeons name please contact me and I will tell you who we have as a reference. There are two books you should get namely

          100 Questions and Answers about Esophageal Cancer published by Jones and Bartlett
          Esophagectomy Post Surgical Guide Questions & Answers published by Authorhouse.

          Take a look at our web site http://www.fightec.org and click on services and you will see all we offer patients going through this disease.

          As his journey continues if you have any specific questions please call me at 732-385-7461.

          Good luck
          Bart

  2. Gunashekar s r says:

    My fother is espoghal cancer 2nd stage what expetency your life pls reply

    • bart says:

      HI

      I am not quite sure of what you are asking me. If it is how long will your father live with a stage II esophageal cancer then the answer is only God knows that.
      I was a stage III esophageal cancer patient and they told me after my chemo,radiation and surgery that I had a 5-10% chance of living 5 years. Well in May of 2017 I will celebrate 17 years form my surgery to remove this cancer. How did I do this?

      First of all its Gods Plan and not mine and all I can do is be positive and do what I am told needs to be done from an eating, sleeping and exercising point of view.

      There is a book we wrote called Esophagectomy Post Surgical Guide Questions and Answers published by Authorhouse that you can get to help you post surgery. There is another book called 100 Questions and And Answers about Esophageal Cancer published by Jones and Bartlett. Both books are in English.

      The key element is to stay positive throughout the treatment and most importantly post treatment.

      Let me know how he does.

      Bart

  3. Nicholas Lindheim says:

    I am an 87 year old, in good shape male. I was diagnosed to have cancer of the esophagus. Have had of 34 sessions of radiation and 5 of chemotherapy. I have NO problem swallowing, maintaining my weight. As the tests apparently revealed that there is a small residue of the cancer they suggested to have surgery.. Being as old as I am and the severity of the operation I have elected not to have surgery. Other than being tired more than normal, I feel ok. Was my decision the right one? and how long can I expect to live? I do not expect a “YES” or “NO” answer tomy question, merely an opinion which I would appreciate.

    • bart says:

      Nicholas

      The doctors know your case and you should ask them what they think the life expectancy will be with your decision not to have the surgery. You should ask them how will the remaining time, they say you could have, will impact the quality of life you are now experiencing. I think you won’t die in your sleep but rather go through significant changes in your quality of life that can be very difficult.

      The future is in God’s hands. No one can say exactly how much longer you have to live or what pain you will go through in the dying process. The doctors based on other people who have chosen not to have the surgery can tell you what they went through before they died.

      Rethink your decision.

      Bart

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  5. Sandy says:

    My husband a 67 year old active man,was diagnosed in Feb 2017 with this terrible cancer,we did everything the doc said to do,chemo,radiation and surgery in July of this year, the put in a feeding tube for my husband in July. He is still not eating regular food of any kind and can quit vomiting. It is really hard to watch him go thru this,but the docs have no idea why he is still throwing up. He has been sense the surgery. Any ideas on how to stop that or where to go for answers. He is getting tired of fighting when he thinks the docs can’t fix it. He was 2B stage tumor,all removed cancer free .

    • bart says:

      It could be he is not digesting the formula that the feeding tube is giving him. The lower Pylori valve may not be functioning so the formula stays in his stomach. When he takes more formula it just mounts up and he could be vomiting since it has no where else to go Mention this to your gastroenterologist or surgeon. If he is not with a Cancer Hospital you may want to get a second opinion from a Cancer Hospital that does these surgeries.

      Good Luck and take care

      Bart

      • Sandy says:

        Thank you for the reply, we are trying to find somewhere to get some answers. They have taken him off tube feeding for several days now and still vomiting. Are talking about TPN, I believe are the letters,feeding him through the vein. We are very concerned, any suggestions on a cancer hospital in Illinois that deals with his form of cancer?

  6. Heerva Desai says:

    Hi,
    My father is 49(now) he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer(stage 3) 2 years back.He had few chemo, after getting a daily report done we came to know that it was spread in lunges along with the brain, lunges cancer is gone now and had radiation for the brain(it is gone too.)
    But a few weeks back it became very hard for him to swallow food, in fact, there was no intake of food/water for almost a week, he had to take bottles of glucose into his veins to get energy. We went to the doctor he told to take chemo more but my dad doesn’t like chemo as its a type of durg that destroys other parts of the body (it destroyed my dad’s hip balls) but still, he is taking it.
    Now he is not as active as he was a few months back he has always been strong, but now he always thinks of dying, in short, he is no more positive, it’s like he is tired of cancer now.

    What can I do to make him happy and positive?
    Make him feel that not everyone dies of cancer.
    Pleas HELP

    • Heerva Desai says:

      And yaa I am from India

    • bart says:

      Hi Heerva

      Try to put a goal in front of him. What can he live for. Does he have grandchildren? Wouldn’t he like to be around to see them grow up? Anything that he was positive about and loved are things you should look at and bring to his attention.

      The past is over with and we don’t know what will happen in the future so he can focus on making today as positive as he can. Enjoy the moment.

      I hope that helps

      Take care

      Bart

  7. Heerva Desai says:

    Thank You soo Much
    I saw it right now

  8. Ersel Muncey says:

    Hi Bart I have posted to you before and just wasn’t sure of where to put this post. This coming March will be the surgical 1year anniversary. So far I am doing fairly well. Was wondering if you have any insight as to what follow up with my oncologist I should be doing. What test etc to ask about. I had a pet scan at 6 months no cancer found and have had blood work done which came back really good. Should we be looking at scope procedure another pet scan.. What follow up did you do.

    • bart says:

      Hi Ersel

      In my case I took a CAT Scans every six months the second year. The third year we went to once a year on the CAT Scans and we continued that for 10 years although it was at our request and not the surgeons. After 10 years we stopped doing CAT Scans altogether

      We did not use an endoscope except during the first year when I had to have a dilation because the scar tissue was narrowing the opening in my esophagus. Actually this dilation was done 4 times the first year and non thereafter. At the end of 5 years we did another endoscope.

      Hope this helps

      Bart

  9. Ersel Muncey says:

    Thanks for your response. We had an appointment today with my oncology Doctor. We will do a cat scan in 6 weeks. My blood work looked good again. I have had one stretching of my esophagus. With no other problems my oncology Dr doesn’t see any need for the scope to be done. If I have any problem with swollowing they will want my surgeon to do the scope.they will follow me for the next few years with blood work and cat scans. I appreciate being able to bounce things off you. God bless you
    Ersel Muncey

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