RON’S STORY REFLUX TESTING AND TREATMENT

Ron chose radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to treat his Barrett’s esophagus. Read more about his experiences with diagnosis and treatment.

RON'S EXPERIENCE

As a seasoned war correspondent who had reported from places like Asia, Latin America, and Vietnam, Ron was used to dodging bullets in his professional life. But he was far less comfortable when it came to dodging bullets with his health.

INITIAL DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

In his 50s, Ron was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in which the damaged lining of the esophagus becomes precancerous. Since Barrett’s is the primary risk factor for esophageal cancer, Ron’s doctor advised him to watch his diet, take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) every day, and come back in two years. So that’s what Ron did. Two years later, he was told his endoscopy revealed no dysplasia (abnormal cell growth). He was told the same thing after his third endoscopy, another two years after that.

Ron continued taking his PPIs and watching his diet, but something was nagging at him. He was used to facing challenges head-on — this approach to dealing with Barrett’s felt too passive. “It went against my nature,” he said. “During my years of covering war and mayhem, I learned that you cannot be passive and survive. Why, then, was I acting that way now about my health? I felt there had to be more I could do than sit and wait for Barrett’s to turn into esophageal cancer.”


RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION

One week later, Ron met with a new local gastroenterologist who specialized in performing radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures to treat Barrett’s. Ron had yet another endoscopy, and this time the results were strikingly different. Not only did Ron have high-grade dysplasia, the endoscopy revealed that he had long segment dysplasia, covering 13 centimeters of his esophagus.

“What a wake-up call that was,” Ron said.

Ron’s physician scheduled him for his first RFA procedure in mid-August. The procedure went well, and after a week of eating non-solid foods and recovering with minimal discomfort, Ron was back to his normal routine. His second procedure took place a couple months later in October, this time with even less recovery time. The prognosis was good.

The experience has taught Ron — who thought he had learned everything there was to know about facing challenges from his war correspondent years — a few lessons about taking ownership of your own body and your own health.

Go see your doctor and get the RFA procedure. It is definitely a lifesaver.

Ron

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