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Two years post esophagectomy

Hi all - follow up note to my previous posts.

In August of 2019 I had an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy, preceded by chemo -radiation for adenocarcinoma at the EG junction. Fortunately, the cancer was dx’d early stage. I am very grateful to report my recent two year scan was NED!

The past 2.5 years has been a challenging journey - physically, mentally, and emotionally - from diagnosis through treatment and surgery, then a long, slow and gradual recovery post-surgery, especially the first 6-8 months. I am now able to do most things I did prior to treatment and surgery; and be active biking with our seniors group,, exercising and walking our dog. I would say I’m s about 70-80% back to my pre-surgery self, depending on the day. A few key recovery milestones - I was able to return to seniors hockey in October’20 for a few weeks (until covid restrictions). I was also able the ski 2 half days last winter / spring. Seniors hockey is hopefully starting up in Oct, again depending on restrictions and vaccine passports and protocols. We also have been able to take several short trips including one to Vancouver Island for s couple of weeks in early July when restrictions lifted. Now we’re back in the 4th wave we’re back to a small bubble of double vax’d family and friends.

I won’t sugar coat it; my recovery has been very challenging, slow and requires ongoing adjustments including high recurrence anxiety, However, I am extremely grateful for the positive outcome and progress, taking nothing for granted and focusing on spending time with my family and friends.

I also really appreciate all the support, encouragement, information and treatment and recovery resources that we share through these forums.

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@CDN Traveller

What a wonderful post and update. Thanks for sharing your story so others can learn from it and get inspiration. I hope you are able to start your hockey next month. I am sure it is good for the soul along with being good exercise.


Thanks Lianne,

I am happy to share my experiences and the resources/strategies I have found helpful, recognizing that everyone’s journey is unique. The information and support and connections I have made with others in this forum are and continue to be a huge part of my recovery.

There is so much to learn and so many nuances to navigate when dealing with cancer. The cumulative expertise of our shared experiences helps us to understand and cope with all the challenges from dx to treatment to grieving losses to finding a new normal to recovery journies.

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Hi there..thanks for the update and being honest. I had the surgery 2 weeks ago and just got home last night!

The doctors were great and the surgery was smooth. The journey ahead is going to be rough but I'm so happy for the opportunity to give it a go.

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Hi @CDN Traveller me again in the early recovery stages, I believe I'm experiencing some of those challenges now and it may be impacting my breathing throughout the day… it's almost like a little panic attack. Any thoughts or suggestions on how to deal with this

Hi @Romps,

Welcome, I'm sorry for the reason that your here, but you are in the right place to receive support and encouragement as you journey through your recovery. It's also great to see you are reaching out right after your surgery and not trying to tough it out on your own.

It's great to hear your surgery went well and I'm sure you're happy to be at home and on your way to recovery! As you know it is not an easy surgery. In terms of your breathing challenges, I would first recommend you contact your surgeon and let them know about these symptoms asap as this could be related to your surgery, and not necessarily panic. Don't be hesitant to call your surgeon, especially in the early days of recovery, with any unusual symptoms or questions to rule out any medical causes first. I was not able to take full breaths for 1-2 months without some discomfort as the incisions and areas where chest tubes were inserted healed and recovered gradually. In my case my right lung was collapsed (intentionally) as part of the surgery, then re-inflated.

I had lots of anxiety, fear and worries after surgery, while at the same time being relieved and grateful that my surgery went well. Keeping my sights on surgery as a curative opportunity helped a lot. Generally I was anxious and stunned, about everything - from the initial limitations caused by the surgery, to worrying about will I ever feel better (recovery is a slow gradual process), a reminder in every movement that my digestive system and body had been re-engineered, low energy, problems in eating / keeping food down, loosing weight, easily getting discouraged with slow progress and worry about what my future quality life would be like.

Lots to be anxious about and all normal reactions to an abnormal situation. I did a lot of research before surgery about what to expect in the first few weeks / months, so this helped me keep perspective and focus on longer term view and goals vs. immediate discomfort. For example, our family was planning a vacation 6 months following surgery and had a photo of the location on my hospital wall and at home. Even though I was skeptical, it gave me a future focus. And when 6 months came along, we were able to take the trip which seemed impossible in the first few months of recovery. I also reached out to the psychologist at the cancer centre (which was by phone after covid started) for support. Mindfulness exercises were particularly helpful.

I hope this is helpful. I recommend checking with your surgeon about your breathing before assuming it's caused by anxiety, which of course could also be a possibility, then see if there are some next steps you can take.

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