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Shane’s Oesophageal Cancer Story

Having beaten stage 4 melanoma with multiple tumours throughout his body and being cancer free for a year, it was through a regular monitoring CT scan that Shane Callaghan discovered he had oesophageal cancer.

Shane says “During a regular 3 monthly CT scan, they picked up something irregular in my chest. I was sent for an endoscopy in July 2021 and decided not to get sedated as I wanted to fully comprehend what was happening. Now that was a bumpy ride, pleased I did it but sedation in the future. They weren’t too sure on a few things from the procedure and biopsies and had concerns. So off for another CT scan in August followed by another endoscopy. This time round, I was sedated, still aware of what was happening but so much easier. Biopsies were taken and then the wait. I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, unrelated to the melanoma, and booked in for surgery 1st September 2021.

In hindsight, I did have the signs & symptoms; reflux, indigestion, waking up nearly vomiting and a burning throat from the acid, which explained a few things, and also having Barrett’s Oesophagus which is a risk factor.

During Covid lockdown, it changed how things were done. I went in alone and met my surgeon. I had brought in a large box of Cadbury Favourite chocolates for the surgical team and nurses as they all do a great job, and it was a way to bring a smile to their faces.

The surgeon explained what was going to happen and how the surgery was going to be done with everything being done by going down my throat and operating internally.

It was lights, camera, surgical gear action. She explained this was serious major surgery. My response was the chocolates were a bribe to keep me alive.

One thing I’m known for through my years of my cancer journey is my positivity, never give up attitude and my sense of humour around it. Humour for my tumour as I call it. Even had some cancer cards made, the expression playing the cancer card, well I have one.

I came out of surgery and looking around, everyone looked happy, almost celebrating so I thought this looks promising. The surgeon said it went extremely well, everyone was really pleased with the results and certain all the cancer had been removed. It was at that moment I looked at her and said I have a serious question to ask. She looked a bit worried, and I asked her how many chocolates she had eaten. She declined to answer, and we had a bit of a laugh and said the chocolate was a good bribe.

I am grateful to be cancer-free again but now have regular check-ups for both this and my regular melanoma checks.

My advice to anyone else experiencing symptoms is… If in doubt check it out, don’t wait. You get one life look after it.”

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