Esophageal Cancer Journey
John Michael was diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in June, 2021. He passed away five months later at 25 years old on November 17, 2021.
Many people questioned, "How could this happen to someone so young?" This type of cancer, which is rare, is usually seen in lifelong smokers or drinkers in their 70's. For someone John Michael's age, it was simply a genetic anomaly. Unfortunately, we know of two others who have had this same type of esophageal cancer and they are also under 30.
This is a sneaky cancer because most people don't take the symptoms too seriously until it's in its last stages. John Michael had been complaining of acid reflux on and off for about a year. He'd take over the counter medicine like Tums or Pepcid to help. In March of 2021 he began having trouble swallowing. He went to an ENT to have his throat looked at and they administered a swallow test.
The ENT suggested he see a Gastroenterologist. The Gastroenterologist performed an endoscopy which is procedure that's done while you're asleep to examine the esophagus and stomach. The doctor took biopsies and that's when it was confirmed he had cancer.
We learned so much on this journey with him. First, if you, or someone you know, is having ongoing acid reflux or is having trouble swallowing, please schedule an appointment with a Gastroenterologist just to check on everything. Secondly, share this story and tell the doctor you want to have an endoscopy. Hopefully, this will prevent any loss of valuable time and allow you to catch this cancer at an early stage while it's treatable.
John Michel would want you to know he was so grateful to have had the best doctors and advisors helping all of us along the way. Thank you to Dr. Greg Champion, Dr. Susan Harvey, Dr. Alan Yeilding, Dr. Khaleel Ashraf, Dr. Robert Sorrell, Dr. Will Harvey, Dr. Katie Moore and Dr. Jaffer Ajani. John wasn't just a patient to them, he was family.
He'd also want us to thank all the prayer warriors that stormed Heaven on his behalf, Church of the Highlands and all those that offered in multiple ways to help him get the best care possible. We are forever grateful.