TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (WUSA ) -- A local man's battles to save his voice, and save his life at the same time.
First the notes became out of reach for gospel singer Jeff Washington of Temple Hills, then he noticed discomfort in his chest. Washington saw his doctor who advised him to have additional tests.
Washington says, "I got one of the most devastating statements ever given to me, esophageal cancer is a rough one."
The main cause of esophageal cancer is chronic, uncontrolled acid reflux. This is what most people think of as indigestion and heartburn. In this case, the tumor affected Jeff's ability to sing, but fortunately it was not in his voicebox. However, oncologists at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America needed to surgically take out his esophagus and part of his stomach to keep the malignancy from spreading.
Russell Riesner, M.D. of Cancer Treatment Centers of America says, "When the esophagus is removed we need to reestablish a pathway for food to get from the mouth into the intestines to be digested."
Fortunately Dr. Riesner says the stomach can stretch, and is actually pulled up to create a new food tube.
After this grueling surgery, Jeff says prayer was a huge factor in his healing process, something the staff at CTCA understood and supported.
Washington says, "I had 2 pastors that came by everyday and prayed with me, they dealt with me spiritually, because I am a spiritual person. I don't have cancer anymore, it is completely gone."
Dr. Riesner says, "He has ability to eat normally, chew, swallow, and the food goes down the food tube just like anyone else."
"He is singing again, every couple of months he delivers for me a new CD of his recorded gospel songs, and I just love playing it." adds Dr. Riesner.
If acid reflux is a common problem you should get screened immediately. Many people take over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, but the acid may create long term damages like esophageal cancer. The only way to be sure is to have an endoscopy done by a specialist.