By Paula Walter
Bradley Hardie had always been a healthy man. He was an airline pilot for 23 years and health was a high priority for him. Hardie’s father, a doctor, had prescribed a protein pump inhibitor (PPI) for his son in 1985 to help manage his acid reflux.
After years of medication, Hardie came across research on PPIs that showed that with diet changes, people may be able to get off their medications. Hardie successfully weaned himself off his PPI, but noticed a sudden drastic change in his weight.
In January of 2016, Hardie’s doctor wanted him to have an endoscopy that would take a look down Hardie’s esophagus. The results came back as Barrett’s Esophagus, a precancerous condition that is seen mostly in those who have suffered with acid reflux for a long time period. A biopsy was performed on Hardie and it came back negative for cancer.
Six month later, Hardie went for a six-month check up as a follow up to the Barrett’s Esophagus diagnosis. Initially, the doctor didn’t see anything but they decided to go ahead and perform a biopsy. It came back positive for cancer. According to Hardie, the doctor was surprised, as they didn’t see anything with the endoscope procedure.
On July 8th, Hardie had surgery. According to Hardie, he and his wife, Robyn, thought his esophagus would be cut approximately five centimeters above the area affected by the Barrett’s esophagus. However, the entire esophagus was removed. According to Hardie, his stomach is now attached to the top of his throat. His doctor informed him that patients heal better if the entire esophagus is removed, rather than a portion of it. Hardie did not require radiation or chemotherapy.
Hardie now sleeps on a wedge to keep his head elevated to prevent food from going into his lungs, causing him to aspirate and possibly develop pneumonia. He has noticed there are times since he had the surgery where he is queasy and nauseous.
According to Hardie, he left the hospital armed with little information. Hardie would like to have been more informed and educated regarding the surgery, his recovery and what to expect after the operation. He and his wife, Robyn, came across the Esophageal Cancer Education foundation, a support group that includes a conference call. The group has been informative and helpful during his recovery. Hardie stresses to know your options and be an informed patient.
Hardie has regained his strength since the surgery. “I’m a grateful guy,” he stated. “I’m lucky. I’m glad to be here.”
Common symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus include heartburn, regurgitation, trouble swallowing foods, long-lasting dry cough and/or hoarseness of voice.