Taking charge of esophageal cancer treatment

Tim Orellano knew something was wrong when minimal physical activity made him short of breath. “Other than acid reflux, I considered myself very healthy,” says Tim, who has played tennis for decades. So, in Feb. 2014, Tim went to his doctor in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bloodwork showed that his red blood cell count was very low, requiring blood transfusions. An endoscopy found a bleeding ulcer, and a biopsy revealed the cause – esophageal cancer. “I was in shock,” Tim says. Choosing to take charge of esophageal cancer Soon after receiving the news, Tim and his wife, Gina, focused on finding the best esophageal cancer treatment. “Cancer is probably even harder on a caregiver, but Gina was just awesome at offering support,” he says. Tim knew he could feel sorry for himself, or he could take charge. “I decided I was going to attack this very aggressively,” Tim says. “I was going to own my cancer. It wasn’t going to own me.” Tim created a binder with his health records and information pertaining to his esophageal cancer diagnosis. He wrote down questions, and began researching treatment options and seeking doctors’ opinions. The search for a surgeon While Tim knew he might need an esophagectomy, a surgical removal of his esophagus, he wanted to try an endoscopic mucosal resection procedure, which was less invasive and would potentially allow him to retain his esophagus. Tim sought a specialist who was both knowledgeable and personable. But he wasn’t happy with many of the doctors he considered. “One surgeon didn’t seem to like me asking questions,” Tim says. Another scheduled him for an endoscopic...