Mark's story is the reason behind the beginning of OCAGI
Mark Grundy was a devoted 49 year old father of two boys, loving husband and to many he was their best uncle, best brother and best friend. Mark passed away on 31st May 2012 from advanced oesophageal cancer, leaving behind his wife Polly, and his two sons.
Mark had been visiting his doctor for three years complaining of heartburn and indigestion. Initially he was prescribed mild antacid (Zantac) and was sent on his way. Within 6 months Mark was back at the GP complaining that the heartburn and indigestion wasn't improving. His GP reassured him it was nothing to worry about, that it was just some reflux and then proceeded to increase the Zantac to twice per day. The heartburn continued to break through the Zantac and Mark was loathe to go back to the GP fearing he would be seen as a bit wimpy. After a night of severe heartburn and reflux Polly insisted that they return to the GP. At this point Mark's GP made the diagnosis of Oesaphageal reflux. This diagnosis was based on his previous notes and Mark's current symptoms. Mark was prescribed a stronger type of antacid (Nexium). His instruction was to take it as required and that became daily for a least three months.
In Febuary 2012, Mark developed a new symptom; he had begun to have some difficulty swallowing. He described the feeling as if he was trying to swallow something too big and that it was getting stuck and there was pain as it travelled down to his stomach. Mark's regular GP had quit his practice so Mark had been seeing a new one. He told Mark that he wasn't sure what was wrong with him and arranged for some tests.
When the test results came back clear, the new GP declared he didn't know what was wrong with Mark and that he would refer him to a specialist gastroenterologist. The specialist immediately booked Mark in for an endoscope and CT scan. On the 8th of March 2012, the endoscope showed there was a tumor in Mark's oesophugus and the pathology said that it was an undifferentiated cell adenocarcinoma. The CT scan done the following day showed it was an advanced form, and had spread through the back of his oesaphagus to both of his lungs. Within days of his diagnosis, Mark began to cough up blood. Within a month Mark was having vision problems and a CT scan revealed it had spread to his brain. Mark passed away on 31st May 2012.
Mark and his wife Polly learnt from this terrible experience that they should have asked to see a specialist.
However it is important to note that not every oesophageal cancer story has the same outcome as Mark's. There are stories of success and happy outcomes.