What One Man Gained After Losing his Stomach to Esophageal Cancer

According to a story from the Daily Herald, Kevin Barnes, a man from Wauconda, Illinois, believes that his experience with esophageal cancer helped spur his own spiritual growth. This is not to say that Kevin was a man of poor spirit before he got cancer. Kevin has always been an active church member and has helped lead or support several charitable causes in the community. He led a charity that builds beds for children living in poverty, and was also a board member at the local food pantry. Nevertheless, Kevin claims that his run-in with esophageal cancer helped change his perspective forever.

Esophageal cancer is a type that appears to be becoming more common in recent years. The cancer is considered highly dangerous because it does not cause any symptoms until it has become advanced. By this point, it often has spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include weight loss, pain when swallowing, difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting blood, and a dry cough. Risk factors include alcohol and tobacco consumption; using both heightens risk even further. Other factors include obesity, acid reflux, consuming hot beverages, and the chewing of betel nut, a common habit in Asian countries. Five year survival rates are poor, at about 15 percent. Most patients die less than a year after diagnosis. To learn more about esophageal cancer, click here.

Kevin first got diagnosed when he noticed he was having trouble swallowing in March of 2016. He recalls that another member of his church got cancer around the same time; the church member did not survive. After six weeks of treatment with chemotherapy and radiation, his doctor noticed that the cancer had spread to his stomach lining. In a surgical operation, Kevin’s stomach along with much of his esophagus was removed. What remains is now connected directly to his intestines.

He is probably healthier than before now; he used to struggle with his weight and lost 130 pounds. Kevin tends to eat small amounts throughout the day because his body cannot digest large meals easily.

Kevin is now the vice president of the food pantry and is also involved in another nonprofit called Cancer Fighters, a support network that helps new patients connect with survivors. Meanwhile, Kevin is loving how his outlook on life has changed. He has more compassion for others than ever before; he feels more sensitive and empathetic. Tears of joy and sorrow come to him more easily now. His wife Cathy says he is more aware of the challenges others face and prays for cancer patients every day.

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