Sheila Vasconcellos


Salamanca, Spain

Medical Condition: Barrett’s esophagus
Medical Therapy: Radiofrequency Ablation
Charities: Asenbar (Asociación de Enfermos de Esófago de Barrett de España Asociacion de Familias de Acogida de Salamanca

After being diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus, Juan received treatment that changed his life forever. He was treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), an endoscopic technique that cured the disease and enabled him to live a normal, healthy life. Because few people in Spain know about Barrett’s esophagus, which is a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Juan founded Asenbar, with the goal of providing support and treatment options to every patient who needs it. He also serves as president of Asociacion de Familias de Acogida de Salamanca (AFASA), providing temporary housing for foster children.


“I have always suffered from heartburn, yet neither my doctor nor I gave it much thought. I pushed through the pain, until I was diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus. After months of research, I received RFA treatment, which changed my life completely.

“I am living proof that hope is a reality for people diagnosed with this type of disease. After my treatment, I knew I needed to give back. I started serving as the president of AFASA, the Foster Care Association of Salamanca, which provides homestays for foster children.

“Many Spaniards are unaware of Barrett’s esophagus, yet it could happen to anyone. To raise awareness of the disease and its treatment options, I founded the organization Asenbar in 2009. I believe every citizen in Spain should be able to receive RFA treatment if they need it.

“Asenbar representatives and I organized the first ever symposium for patients with Barrett's esophagus, bringing in the best specialists in Spain, which was a major success. I am proud that Asenbar has transformed into a well-known, reputable organization not only in Spain, but throughout South America as well.

“While raising awareness is crucial, I know that research is key for future improvements. Asenbar initiated a research project with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre to identify the individuals at risk of developing esophageal cancer and to study how genetic history can impact diagnosis.”


Pay it forward.

Because many people helped me during my journey, I feel compelled to help as many people as I can. We are all indebted to care for each other, and I urge you to help others as well. Even if you think you have nothing to give, there is always something to share. You never know whose heart you can touch.


Asenbar aims to raise awareness of Barrett’s esophagus, while providing information about treatment options, medical coverage and support for patients in Spain. More than 1,000 patients contribute in the self-help forum, while organization representatives have participated in several medical congressional hearings and seminars.

Asociacion de Familias de Acogida de Salamanca (AFASA) provides temporary care for foster children without homes. The organization also coordinates leisure activities for the children, so they can play and interact with other kids and experience a sense of normalcy during an unstable time.


*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you. Please refer to Important Safety Information.