Financial constraints are a reality and insurance coverage should be considered when selecting a doctor. Your insurance plan should be considered when selecting a doctor. Your doctors should be covered under your policy unless cost is not an issue for you. However, there may be reasons you need to see a specialist outside your insurance plan. Esophageal cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer and not every doctor or surgeon has experience treating it. In some cases, insurance companies may make exceptions for coverage to a specialist not participating in your policy. You may need to call your insurance company to see about out-of-network coverage.
Everyone responds to treatment differently. Many patients will have surgery before or after chemotherapy and/or radiation. Some patients will not. Chemotherapy may be given from one to several days a week. Most often it is given on an outpatient basis, but occasionally patients are required to stay overnight in the hospital. Some patients are able to work throughout chemotherapy and only take a few days off, while others need more time. Radiation therapy is given Monday through Friday, and even though the treatment may take only a few minutes, the distance to the facility may be a consideration. If surgery is planned after chemotherapy and/or radiation there is usually a "rest" period after chemotherapy and radiation and depending on your length of treatments this "rest" period is usually 4-6 weeks. Surgery usually requires a 10-14 day hospital stay and a 6-8 week recovery before going back to work. Your doctor will outline your treatment schedule, which will allow you to estimate the time off from work you will need.
You will be able to do as much of any activity you would like after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus or stomach. You may need to modify your activities during treatment, depending on how you feel. Immediately after treatment it is best to check with your doctor before traveling long distances. After being cleared, you're free to travel where you would like. As always, it is best to check with your insurance company regarding health-related emergencies while away from home and to know the location of the closest medical facility.
Surviving cancer is a process and it is difficult to pinpoint a time when you can consider yourself "cured". As you transition from treatment to life after treatment, you may face many challenges. More and more hospitals and community agencies are focusing support services and educational programs on individuals who have completed their treatment for cancer. Contact your hospital or local American Cancer Society for local resources.
The transition from treatment to normal life can include many conflicting emotions. If your treatment has been successful, you probably will be relieved and happy. At the same time, you may feel distressed and this emotional conflict is not unusual. You probably have made friendships with those involved in your care as well as other patients and their families. Now that you may not see them as often or perhaps never see them again. What had become a routine focus of your life is changing. This is a time of transition. It is normal to find it difficult to finish treatment and carry on your life. A support group may be helpful to you at this time. Here, you may find other cancer survivors who are facing similar circumstances. You will also be able to reach out to newly diagnosed patients. This effort to help others can make you feel good about yourself and remind you about how far you have come. If your anxiety causes you to feel depressed or interferes with your functioning, you should talk to your doctor and ask whether counseling or medication might help to alleviate your distress. You should also let your family and friends know that you still need their support even thought you are no longer in treatment. They may assume everything is okay unless you take the time to explain your ongoing needs.
An important part of getting your life back to normal is to be vigilant about your follow-up care and "wellness care". Although follow-up care for cancer of the esophagus or stomach varies among doctors, you should be aware of your doctor's recommendations for office visits, scans, and follow-up tests. In addition to your cancer concerns, you should discuss "wellness care" with your doctor. It is important that you take good care of your general health so that you can be strong in your survival.