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What will happen to my friend? - cancer of the oesophagus

(17 Posts)
higgle Fri 22-Jul-11 10:26:14

We have been friends since school, but don't see each other that often, now in our 50's. I really feel sorry for F because apart from all her recent problems she has had a lot of personal and financial difficulties, but never moans or complains.

I think it would be fair to say that she has had a drink problem for years - has been banned from driving in the past - and she has smoked since she was about 14.

About 3 years ago F was diagnosed with some sort of oral cancer. She had radiotherapy and went into remission but her salivary glands are damaged, she has had lots of dental work done and is very thin and tired looking.

I have been in contact with after a few months absence and she is having more treatment - she descried it as a long tumour in her throat that is too big for surgery and is being treated by chemotherapy only with a view to putting in a stent later so she can eat solid food again - I presume by this that she has cancer of the oesophagus and I'm very worried about her. She is quite cheerful and doesn't seem to be looking any further ahead than hoping to be back on solid food again before too long.The general view of other mutual friends seems to be a bit unsympathetic as they say she had brought this on herself by the smoking and drinking, I feel very sad about the whole thing as I'm sure she would have quit if she could and we all do some things that might have bad consequences for our health.

Everything I read tell me she probably has a very poor life expectancy now - does anyone know of anyone who has survived long term with this sort of condition? How can we best support her?

ameliagrey Fri 22-Jul-11 17:17:43

Sadly, your other friends are right. Survival from this kind of cancer is poor. Both John Thaw ( actor) and John Diamond ( first husband of Nigella L and Times writer who chronicled his fight) died. They were both drinkers but also smokers- it's the combination of both that does it.

Surgery can help but if it's spread then it's anyone's guess. Surgery is sometimes so radical that eating or talking properly is impossible. Chemo might or might not work.

It is- or should be!- well known that the combination of smoking and drinking is responsible for cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus.

From what I read, th survival rate is around 2 years at most- but it does depend. In some cases it might be 6 months- depends on secondaries.

Ungratefulchild Fri 22-Jul-11 17:22:32

My friend died last year from this horrible illness. She lived for about 12 months following diagnosis and was only in her fifties. She was neither a smoker or a drinker.

Sorry for your friendhiggle x

minipie Fri 22-Jul-11 17:25:03

I know of someone who had surgery for this type of cancer (also a smoker and drinker). Having been given a very short life expectancy she then survived for another 5 years or so which doctors were very surprised by. Unfortunately the cancer returned and she then very sadly died.

I'm afraid that's the most positive story I can tell you, I wish your friend all the best. Amelia is right that it should be more widely publicised.

BadRoly Fri 22-Jul-11 17:27:33

MY dad was diagnosed with this last summer. He was told 6mths. His is inoperable. The chemo worked however and he is in remission, we have just come back from 2 weeks in France. But he thinks his symptoms are returning. He sees his consultant soon and guess we'll know more after that.

BadRoly Fri 22-Jul-11 17:28:37

Oh and he has seconadries in the lymph nodes which is why his is inoperable/incurable.

nightcat Fri 22-Jul-11 17:31:39

My cousin was a non-smoker and barely a social drinker and still got this, lived 7 months post-dx with secondaries. Retrospectively, he suffered from reflux and we also seem to have gluten problems in the family, he was not dx with it but his dd was, we never realised that the damage to his oesophagus was possibly from ignoring/putting up with reflux for too long w/o treatment.
He did have a stent, but tbh the relief was v brief if at all as he was too poorly to appreciate it by then. All v sad.
I think you need to look a step at the time and maybe not extinguish any hope, the treatment might buy the time but not the cure or health as it was. Make most of here and now and have things to look forward to in nr future, not a distant pipe dream.

higgle Fri 22-Jul-11 18:56:50

I knew it wasn't good news, obvioulsy, but she is such a contented person who always seems to have drawn the short straw in life, personally I don't begrudge her the bit of comfort the wine and cigs have brought, it seems a very high price to pay.

methodsandmaterials Fri 22-Jul-11 19:24:16

I am sorry to hear about your friend higgle.
As well meaning as all the advice and cancer stats others have been offering, I'd urge you to seek support and information from a reliable source. The Cancer Research UK website is fantastic.
Its sad to read about the response of your friends. Nobody deserves cancer, no matter what their lifestyle choices are.

Elibean Fri 22-Jul-11 21:12:05

I'm sorry, higgle. Horrible diagnosis, and of course no one deserves to have it, whatever the cause.

My friend's aunt died of oesophageal cancer, about 6 months post-diagnosis. She wasn't a smoker, but her dh was/is a very heavy smoker - so she lived with smoke for years. That said, people get it without any risk factors, too.

higgle Sat 23-Jul-11 19:45:28

We are having a big school reunion this year - 40 years past O levels, so hope seeing everyone will raise her spirits a bit, ( we are a friendly bunch, not compeititve about our lives and experiences) thanks for all your replies.

mycatsaysach Sat 23-Jul-11 19:50:49

you sound like a good friend higgle - that will be a great help to her x

higgle Sun 21-Aug-11 13:06:10

Sadly my friend died this morning. She reponded quite well to the initial chemotherapy but wasn't getting much nutrition and began to fade away a couple of weeks ago. She was too thin and frail for even a peg feed to work and was transferred to a hospice last week. She was in good spirits up to the end though and seemed to really enjoy celebrating her eldest son's birthday on Thursday. She was too ill for a recent class reunion so we will all be joining together to raise a glass in her honour next week.

gingeroots Sun 21-Aug-11 15:34:12

Oh Higgle ,how sad .
So sorry for your loss .
You sound like a great friend - glad she had that .

Nagoo Sun 21-Aug-11 15:35:18

My friend had it and is now 2 years clear.

Nagoo Sun 21-Aug-11 15:36:52

Oh OP I'm sorry you lost your friend.

<slaps self>

I hope that you can have a good time in her memory

CPR1950 Wed 14-Sep-16 23:13:13

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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