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Esophageal Cancer Was God’s Plan For Me

Bart Frazzitta: Esophageal Cancer Was God's Plan For MeIn January, 1999, I decided I would retire at the end of the year. I planned to gradually move into full retirement by reducing my work week to three days. I intended to use the extra free time to figure out what I was going to do, come January 1, 2000. What happened was not in my plan but, as it turned out, esophageal cancer was God’s plan for me.

As 1999 progressed, I was still searching for something interesting to do in retirement. In November, I attended Chiltington’s Annual Partners Meeting in Hamburg, Germany.  I was Vice Chairman and CEO of Chiltington Inc. and was responsible for their U.S. operations.

First Sign Of A Problem

At dinner one evening, a piece of steak got stuck in my esophagus and the pain in my chest was intense. I jumped up from the table, and at that moment, the piece of steak cleared my esophagus and the pain went away instantly. The remaining trip was uneventful and I returned home without further thought about what had happened at dinner in Hamburg.
During the week of my return, however, I had lunch with a client and it happened again, this time while I was eating a hamburger. I sensed something was wrong and went to my doctor. He immediately scheduled an Upper GI Series for the following day. I had the test done the following morning, and by afternoon I learned that I had esophageal cancer.

My Esophageal Cancer Journey

In other blog posts, I have explained the process I went through, including chemo, radiation therapy and surgery, as well as the post-surgical issues I encountered. (See the links to these articles and other posts in this series below.)

MSKCC Patient-To-Patient Program

After I got through the treatments, I wanted to give something back to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and to the doctors who saved my life. Dr. Bains, my surgeon, recommended that I volunteer with the Patient-to-Patient Program at MSKCC.

The Patient-To-Patient program connects cancer survivors with patients who are going through the treatment process for esophageal cancer. In the 12 years that Ginny and I have been involved in this program we have talked to over 1,000 patients.

Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation

We also formed the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation (ECEF). Our mission is to bring awareness and educate the public about this disease. We’re proud of the work we’ve done through the foundation and of the video we’ve sponsored to help raise public awareness of esophageal cancer.

(Video not playing? Watch it on YouTube at

We are committed to walk the journey with patients who have this disease. We have support groups that meet once a month and have produced a book called Esophagectomy Post Surgical Guide Questions and Answers. We also have a hot line 732-385-7461 for quality of life questions.
Another major focus of the foundation is to support research projects what will lead to early detection. To date, we have raised over $400,000 to support research projects.

Esophageal Cancer Was God’s Plan For Me

In 1999, I could not imagine that esophageal cancer was God’s plan for me. If the journey ahead had been revealed to me, what might my answer have been?

Imagine being told I want you to take on a deadly disease and become a resource for other patients by forming a foundation to increase public awareness and raise money to find a early detection of this disease.

My answer at the time would have been, no way!

But, as it turns out, God’s plan has given me a purpose in life that I could never have imagined when I was searching for something to do in retirement.

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


  • I have been diagnosed this past december and am in treatment at Johns Hopkins Sydney Kimmel. Mine is stage 1 caught early. I’m having Chemo once a week and radiation daily for 5 1/2 weeks. Then cool off. Then surgery. I’m looking for advice as well as links to the best surgeons.

    • Hi Bill
      Just sent you an email in response to your email. Please respond to that email.
      Take care

  • Thank you for your story. My Dad was just diagnosed with esophageal cancer last week and we were told it is already Stage 4 as of yesterday. He was told about 2 years to live with this. He lives in a suburb outside of Chicago. Any other input on second opinion options is appreciated.

    • Hi Robin
      It is always good to get sa second opinion. Give me a call and we can discuss several options we have in the Chicago Area.

  • My husband (age 60 and otherwise very fit) just started chemo for EC. He’s stage 3-4 as it is “extensive” in lymph. We have not been given a time frame but we are optimistic that he may be able to have chemo to eradicate it from lymph, then radiation to shrink it for surgery to remove it. Are we being realistic??

    • You have established a plan to fight this disease. All you need to do now is have faith in the plan and be very positive as you reach stages in the plan.Set goals in the plan. Get educated as to the various chemo treatments out there. Look at immunotherapy as an option.
      NO one can dictate the future unless you are God. We can learn from the past and we can’t control the future but what we can do is control the current moment we are in. Remain positive through the process. Address and believe in the plan and pray to God to help you through this part of his journey.
      I had a saying when I was going into my esophageal cancer surgery and that is “God sits on my right shoulder and there is nothing that He and I together can’t handle.”
      You asked a question in your note “are we being realistic”.I believe the answer is YES.
      Take Care

  • My Dad was told he has esophageal cancer last Thursday he is waiting to see what kind and stage. I am trying to find as much as I can to help, we live in Des Moines Ia could you send me a link to best surgeons in this area or surrounding area. Many thanks, your website sends hope at a time of many tears.

    • HI Nikki
      Sorry to hear about your Dad. I don’t have a recommendation for Des Moines IA. Give me a call 732-385-7461 and we can talk about what States are close to you and I can see if we have a name of a surgeon in that State.

  • I am 8 weeks out from surgery. After breakfast I become nauseous. A couple hours and I usually am fine. This only seems to happen after breakfast the rest of my meals don’t have this effect. Any ideas?

    • You may be eating too much for breakfast. Try not eating as soon as you get up. Wait an hour before you eat food.

  • My husband of 40 years has just been diagnosed with Invasive Adenocarcinoma yesterday. We are located in Phoenix Az. We are going to begin chemo asap and the into the surgery. We are looking for any type information about this journey. We are pretty scared at this point in time.

    • Hi Terri
      We have contacts in the Phoenix area that will be of help to you and your husband. I will send you an email.
      Take care

  • we live in New South Wales A stralia. My 41 year old son in law has been diagnosed with stage 4 EC. He and my daughter are raising 4 beautiful boys .. one is only 1 year old. He is starting treatment at Wollongong Hospital NSW soon. Do you know if Australian hospitals have the most up to date information and technology please? Or is there something that you know of that could assist our Australian Doctors and hospitals please?
    Blessings Robyn

    • Robyn,
      Sorry to hear about your son-in-law. I think the best thing to do would be to check into which is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers’s website and see what they are offering on the oncology side. They are doing things with immuno therapy which is the new game in town for EC patients. It may be something that your doctors may be able to use on your son-in-law.
      Good luck and take care,

  • Christine
    My husband was told four years ago that there was nothing else doctor could do for him that was January 5,2014. He is ok. I see sign of it could be coming back. We are ok cause God done what our family asked we are covered under Jesus’ blood. I’m in a much better place and so is our family

    • I have a saying that God sits in my right shoulder and there is nothing that He and I together can’t handle.
      take care

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