OHSU

My Knight Cancer Story - Lauris

My Knight Cancer Story - Lauris and SheilaThe first thing the doctor said was, “I’m very sorry, but you have cancer.” I was shocked, maybe even in denial. But I had been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus three years earlier, and I knew there was always a possibility of esophageal cancer. When I learned I had cancer, I was afraid the doctors would have to open me up - like open-heart surgery. My wife and I did some research and talked with family back in Minnesota who encouraged us to go to the Mayo Clinic.

Fortunately, my gastroenterologist arranged an appointment with John Hunter, M.D., at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. He wanted me to have a less invasive surgery, and he believed Dr. Hunter was the best surgeon on the West Coast to do it.

My wife Shiela and I were both impressed by our first visit with Dr. Hunter. He was thorough, had a sense of humor and exuded confidence, which immediately put us at ease. Shiela and I were concerned about my age and the fact that I had atrial fibrillation. Dr. Hunter listened to our concerns and arranged for me to see a heart specialist. The tests confirmed that my heart should present no problem during surgery.

The day of my operation, I remember thinking how much the operating room looked like NASA headquarters in Houston. Looking up at Dr. Hunter and my surgical team, I knew I was in good hands. Shiela waited patiently during the surgery, and the minute he finished, Dr. Hunter called her into a private room and told her how it had gone. We were amazed to learn that he had removed seven inches from my esophagus and attached my stomach to what remained with just six little incisions in my torso.

During my six-day hospital stay, everyone from the student nurses to Dr. Hunter himself took outstanding care of me and Shiela. Since the surgery, I’ve lost 25 pounds and watch what I eat. I walk regularly, mow the lawn, ride horses and am currently cancer-free.  

I was fortunate. Because I had regular endoscopic tests, my cancer was caught early. But without Dr. Hunter and the other wonderful staff at the Knight Cancer Institute, I wouldn’t have the quality of life I enjoy now. My one-year checkup is coming up, and I have high hopes for another great visit at OHSU.

Watch Lauris and Shiela tell their OHSU Knight Cancer Institute story