Happier despite esophageal cancer treatment

At first, Richard “Ricky” Harveston couldn’t swallow his hamburger bites. Then, he struggled to drink his milk, and what he managed to get down came right back up. Ricky’s local Orange, Texas, doctor said that he had acid reflux. “But in the back of my mind, I knew what wrong with me,” Ricky says. His dad died from esophageal cancer at age 74, and his half-brother died of the disease at age 46. Like Ricky, both were heavy smokers. So, he went to a local oncologist.  Ricky’s intuition was right. In 2013, at age 53, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. “I cried,” Ricky says. His dad had opted not to be treated, and his half-brother received chemotherapy, but refused radiation, at a free clinic in Mississippi. “My dad dwindled to nothing, and my half-brother’s tumor spread to his brain and spine.” Hoping for a different outcome, Ricky started treatment at a cancer center in southeast Texas. Face esophageal cancer treatment with a strong caregiver “Chemotherapy and radiation almost destroyed me,” Ricky says. “It was so bad, I wanted to quit with only three radiation treatments left and accept death as the consequence.” But, he didn’t quit.    “You have to have a strong caregiver,” Ricky says. His caregiver was his ex-wife, Eileen. “We were married for 10 years and had been divorced for two years when I was diagnosed,” he says. “She wanted to come see me, so I said OK, what do I have to lose?” She hasn’t left his side since. Eileen cared for Ricky nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the...