people, Paul Sackett never thought much of the heartburn that had
periodically driven him to the medicine cabinet for antacids. "I
just took an Alka-Seltzer," says the 70-year-old Citrus Heights
resident. "I'd had it for 40 years."
annoyance turned into something more perilous last year. It began
when Sackett was diagnosed with anemia. The hardy ex-Army officer
and retired food service manager is no stranger to illness; he had
a quadruple bypass in 1985, bouncing back from surgery within months.
Then he got hepatitis C from blood he received during the surgery;
a year's worth of interferon injections at UC Davis Medical Center
chased the virus into permanent hiding. As he approached his 70th
birthday, he took good care of himself and stayed active. He even
worked weekends as the food service manager for a dining facility
at UC Berkeley.
have very good recuperative powers," says Sackett. "I
have a strong life condition and I tend to heal very quickly."
anemia - discovered during routine blood work - was troubling. He
was losing blood for reasons his physicians could not explain. A
gastroenterologist did a biopsy of his throat. The unfortunate news:
adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
cancer is a comparatively rare disease but one that has increased
drastically in the last decade, perhaps because of its connection
to a type of chronic heartburn called gastroesopha- geal reflux
disorder (see Esophageal Cancer.)
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