After months of painful swallowing, Paul Malinowski, a busy director of an engineering department and proud Harley owner, sought treatment at the BIDMC Chest Disease Center. He quickly learned that he had developed esophageal cancer, news that hit especially hard as his wife had just finished her own battle with thyroid cancer.
Paul was reticent to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but his reservations were quelled by his attentive treatment team. "I couldn't ask for a better team of doctors. They were informative, courteous, and let me take ownership of my treatment." The BIDMC Chest Disease Center is unique in that radiation oncology, gastroenterology, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine reside under one roof, allowing doctors to easily collaborate, thereby enabling greater advances in care and making treatment of thoracic illnesses more comfortable and convenient for the patient.
This integrated approach was especially helpful to Paul's family before he went into surgery. "The doctors held an open forum with my family to answer all of their questions - their bedside manner and general demeanor were fabulous." Now, five months after surgery, Paul, an all-season biker, is back to life and back on his Harley.
"I hadn't had steak for 30 years and now I can eat anything," explains Mary Ritchie, a nurse, mom, and grandma to eight, who had suffered from undiagnosed achalasia for forty years. Achalasia is a condition in which the lower esophageal muscles fail to relax, making it difficult to swallow. After a negative experience with an esophageal dilation, she decided to live with her disease until a back injury worsened her condition and led her to Dr. Michael Kent at the BIDMC Chest Disease Center. "Before the surgery, I didn't want to go out - everything revolved around food, and I couldn't eat." Mary feels differently now. After two endoscopies, Dr. Kent and his team made the achalasia diagnosis. After answering her questions, Dr. Kent promptly performed a Heller Myotomy, a minimally invasive procedure to remove esophageal muscles that won't relax. Two months after her surgery, Mary is returning to her active lifestyle and all of her favorite foods. "At my fiftieth wedding anniversary I couldn't eat, but tonight my husband and I are going out for hot-dogs."