Merrill's Cancer Blog

Esophageal Cancer, Husband

Dear Fellow Travelers,

My husband Robert has just been diagonsed with esophageal cancer, a few days before we were to move to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for a year of adventure. I retired in August and had been planning our idyll in Mexico for several years. Now our Philadelphia house sitter is on hold; our house is a mess with piles of stuff ready to be packed and shipped to Mexico; and our apartment in San Miguel is sitting there, empty. At least his cancer was caught before we left. But what a shock. As a friend said, "This is a precarious time of life." I turned 70 in July and my husband is coming up on 81.

We found out today that Robert will need part or all of his esophagus removed, and likely chemo and radiation too.

I'll be joining the Blog for a Cure esophageal cancer group while keeping up with anal cancer friends here. My own cancer has been NED since 2010, mercifully. I still struggle with the side effects of my radiation treatment but have accepted it as my new normal.

Here's a photo of my darling husband of 40 years. It captures his essence. I'm in shock and trying not to sink into deep sadness.

Thank you for your support and friendship.

Lori likes this post.
6 people threw a punch at your cancer.
9 people sent you a prayer.
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I am so sorry for his diagnosis. He looks amazingly young, and I hope his resilient maturity will help counter the treatment.
I hope he can get started soon.
Hugs and prayers.
I am so sorry. I'm in the Philly area. May all go as well as possible.
I am so sorry that you are now in this fight and not happily on your way to new adventures. I pray your husband's treatment is not only effective but not to tough on him. Your plans sound amazing and hope you will be able to pick up where you left off at a later date.
Oh Merrill, I am so so sorry to hear this news. Totally sucks! Makes me want to scream some times. What a beautiful picture you have posted of your husband of 40 years. You are very lucky to have had each other for these 40 years. I am hoping this side trip on your journey is short so that you can get to Mexico for a great adventure. I will look for your posts on behalf of Robert. Big hugs to you both.
Great photo. Sending hugs, love, and prayers
Prayers for you and your dear husband. I hate to hear of your sadness as cancer can be so daunting. May you and he set your sights on that one year adventure and go through treatment with that as your goal.

I go to a opthalmologist specialist at Emory in Atlanta courtesy of chemo and a family history of glaucoma along with macular degeneration. She is a young doctor in her 30's. We were discussing the effects of blue light from LED lights. According to research they have seen no effect of blue screen omitting light on vision. Some how she started talking about the side effects of plastics which brought her to her own heartfelt concern as a colleague of similar age was recently dx with breast cancer. She seemed to be quite upset as she felt her friend was too young for cancer.
Unfortunately, cancer has no age boundary. I have known friends that have passed from colorectal cancer in their early 40's and friend's children that have passed from cancer in their teens. My personal feeling is that life is not so precarious at 70 or 80 as it is at other ages. It is just more in our face.
My heart hurts for you and your husband as joyful plans are now being put to the side as you both go into battle mode with the "beast" of cancer. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and supportive people. Prayers for comfort and strength.
Janice likes this comment
Merrill, I am so sorry that you and your husband are facing another cancer fight. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs, Cherie
Where is the NO I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS button!!!! HUGS....
Oh Merrill, what a shock. I see a beautiful soul when I look at that photo, and am heartened by the words one special doc told me, "One does not live to be old by being weak, if we make it this far, we can go much further because of strength and will". The fact that surgery is being discussed leads me to believe the cancer is early, a good sign. I will add Robert to my prayers, and please keep us updated, and of course, lean on us for support. I hate this awful disease. X
Janice likes this comment
What a low blow. Just as everything is in place for a brand new and well-deserved adventure. Even the house sitter! My heart aches for you both. But like all of us, you pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off - and get cracking. An adventure so well planned can be postponed for six months.......Good luck and godspeed. YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
So sorry about your husband. What a bummer about your trip. Prayers for you all!
I am so sorry to hear this, Merrill. I hope he will be able to begin treatment soon after surgery and that it will be succesful. So sorry that, as a couple, you have to face the beast again. I am glad that you are doing well, despite the longterm side effects. Don't forget to take care of yourself through all of this. You both will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Merrill, I hated reading this. Just when your post-retirement adventure is about to begin, cancer raises its ugly head again. You are both in my prayers. I hope in a few months, you are both lounging in the Mexican sun and this is just an ugly memory.
I'm sorry your hubs has cancer. He's a good looking guy and looks like a happy person. Yeah, they remove part or all of the esophagus and create a new one with part of the stomach. I'll be sending good thoughts and prayers for him and hopefully it won't be long before you are both able to occupy that pad in Mexico 🙏🏻👍🏻. You won't be far from MD Anderson for follow-ups.
I am so sorry to hear this. Oh no. You can always find folks with any type of cancer on the home page. You click on the filter button and then go to the type of cancer and select from the drop down menu. Also, on your profile page you can add another cancer type if you want to have other people find you. I do love that photo of him. Such a handsome guy. ;-)
Tyndall likes this comment
Just ading my voice to all these messages of love and encouragement. All you can do is "one day at a time." And BELIEVE you will get to your new home! HUGS
Merrill, I’m so sorry to hear you and Robert have to go through this, especially now when you are derailed from being steps away from your simply amazing one year idyll. You already know you’re not alone and I imagine the esophageal group on BFAC will certainly lessen the struggle for you both. I pray that Robert receives one of the advanced minimally invasive esophagectomy procedures that can make this madness so much more manageable. Under any scenario, what I see is a handsome couple with incalculable strength that plans to be together for over 40 years. Congratulations on your retirement. (I’ve always admired your career choice supporting the arts.). And, congratulations on 9 years NED. You held a crazy record in the cases I know of for the largest tumor, yes a macabre record-keeping on my part, but you beat it! So obviously you know to never, never give up...San Miguel de Allende waits. My thoughts are with you.
Cleo likes this comment
Wow, I'm sorry to read about your husbands diagnosis, pisses me off a bit to think how unfair the big C is...will think positively towards you guys as you get through this.
I’m so sorry to hear about this and it’s disruption in your lives. Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture of him. I’ll keep you both on my thoughts and send love and light. Keep strong and optimistic.
I’m so sorry to hear this. Please keep us updated on his progress. Sending lots of live. Fight hard.
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CBD Oil for Diarrhea Flare Ups?

I've had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) since my 20s but it was made much worse by my anal cancer treatment. I was diagnosed Stage 3A in 2008 and NED by 2010. Since then I've been plagued with bouts of severe diarrhea. Lomotil can help somewhat when I have a flare up, but it's not ideal. Have any of you tried CBD oil? Thanks!

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Congrats fellow ACer; WOW almost 10 years. I go the other way with that issue, but I'd be interest to know if it gives some relief to the war zone.
Logic tells me any oil makes things looser. But, there are many products that have it now. Taking it internally, I would definitely want a certified source.
For me cheese is a sure slow down for the bowels.
Bigs hugs!
Merrill, Pen like this comment
In tuning in to see what others say. I have no experience with this.
Merrill likes this comment
I order hemp oil from Amazon. I find it helps with the pain in my joints. Yoga has helped with my diarrhea. ID gentle yoga. After only 2 weeks, the difference is amazing! I did not notice much difference with just using the hemp oil
Merrill likes this comment
Hi Merrill! I have not tried CBD oil, so I'm of no help. I have an occasional bout with diarrhea too, just depending on what I eat (or drink, as in alcohol). I hope overall you are doing well!
Merrill likes this comment
Hi Merrill.Congratulations with 10 years NED!!! I use CBD oil at night since my diagnosis for almost two years. It helps for better sleep and for my joint/muscle pain. I guess if it affects your nervous system it may relax your bowel tone and slow down your diarrhea. I would try it for a couple of weeks and see if it's good for you. Hugs!
Merrill likes this comment
Hi Merrill, Good to see you, so to speak. I get diarrhea when I accidentally eat a food I can’t digest. Anything with dairy and I get it. You might track your diet and see if there’s a correlation. I used cbd for sleep sometimes. But mostly I have to work against constipation. And congrats on 10 years! I’m 5 years out! Woohoo! Sending you a big 🤗
Merrill likes this comment
Hello Merrill! No experience with the oils...but the CBD salve is wonderful for arthritic shoulders/necks and thumbs...
Merrill likes this comment

what kind (or brand) do you recommend
Good to know. I'm getting arthritis in my hands--my father and paternal grandmother had it in their hands, so mine is genetic. Also probably from overuse for years as an artist. I'll order some CBD salve.
Am just getting it from a local CBD pharmacy that opened here when Texas law permitted it. They provided a small sample tin so you could determine if it helped you before you bought some!
See my comment to Cleo
I've never tried CBD of any kind.
As the years go on, 9 years for me, my diarrhea or multiple bowel movements have gotten worse. I have had multiple accidents at home and out. It is making me afraid to travel domestically. I would love to travel to Europe and do a river cruise, but would be scared to death on the long flight and not knowing where to find a bathroom in the little towns and villages. I take 2-4 lomotil a day. I am allergic to imodium, etc. I'm interested if CBD oil or anything else helps us survivors. Merrill, I hope you find your answer. Take care!
Thom likes this comment
I live in Georgia where legal CBD comes in a variety of products. My husband uses the CBD oil, but the oil solution that the CBD is used with causes my diarrhea to flare up. He ordered some hemp gummies, but they did not relax me as well as some "froggies" that my son got me at the local herb shop. If you pm me your contact number I can send you pictures of the products. Georgia did pass medical marijuana. I have a card with a number that makes it "legal" for me to order low THC with CBD oil. I have used it with less stomach side effects and am unsure if it is the THC. It did make me feel loopy for awhile, but now I am use to it and use it off and on at night. I did order some other strains of THC and have not tried them yet. Georgia is in the process of having medical dispensaries set up, but currently you order online through Colorado. I have thought of flying to California or Colorado to try different strains as I have heard that different ones effect you differently. I will say that it is a grayish area ordering online and look forward to the day when marijuana is taken off the federal drug list. I did try the salve, but it was o.k. It has some of the same ingredients as Benegay at least the brand we tried. I know that there are different strains and everyone's chemical/physcial makeup and reaction is different. What works for one does not always work for another. Best wishes. I will say Depends are my friend, along with a "portable" baggie toliet called Johnny in a Jiffy. It is mainly for camping, but I have it and a portable urinal in my car for those times when there is not a toilet nearby. I like to travel and as long as my head is above the dirt I do what works to get there. Hugs for relief.
Pen, Thom like this comment
I can't advise you on CBD, but weekly lomotil may help. It helps keep mine (mostly) controlled...almost 10p%, since I began taking it routinely. GI doc approves. Good luck!!
Carol P.
Long time no see! I am assuming that since you've had IBS issues that you've tracked your diet for any potential causes? I had to give up dairy post treatment as my intestines cannot handle it any longer. And recently I went gluten-free and added more healthy fats to my diet. Not a veto-diet by any means, but I have found I have less intestinal problems. There was one evening that I ate a couple meatballs not thinking about the gluten factor, and boy did I pay for it the next day - diarrhea and terrible gas. Thankfully I had Immodium with me, but forgot my probiotics. Cannabis is legal here in CA so I indulge in mints from time to time, great for sleep, and have not noticed any negative changes to bowel movements. Interesting to see what others comment.
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Vital Info


June 26, 2012

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 10130

July 15, 1949

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Stage 3A

over 6.1


Fluorouracil (5-FU)

It's dark shadow.

To smell the roses.

Give me practical advice and send me good vibes

Still trying to eat lots of veggies despite treatment induced diarrhea

5FU = mucositis. Mytomycin = neutropenia

2 lymph nodes near the original tumor

Companionship, understanding, cooked meals

Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia

Sleep as much as possible. Take all the helper drugs you're offered; pain meds, anti-anxiety meds, etc.

Find a great counselor or therapist. Even when I was too sick to go to appointments, my therapist and I had phone sessions. Therapy was a crucial resource for me.

December 7, 2008

Rectal pain and bleeding. Told it was a hemorrhoid. Fortunately, I kept demanding to see the doctor.


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