Five years ago, my world as I knew it would change forever. My younger brother, Brent Sharpless would lose his 14 month battle to Esophageal Cancer on June 29th, 2011. Today is his Birthday.
There are many things I could say about this life changing event but the most important is:
Acid reflux can cause cancer. Esophageal cancer use to be an old white man’s disease that derived from other diseases but not anymore. Brent was 36, he was super active, healthy and at the prime of his life. Like many Americans, he thought that persistent heartburn and acid reflux were simply an inconvenience. Five years prior to his diagnosis, his doctor prescribed medication (PPIs), which he stopped taking two years before he was diagnosed because he was asymptomatic. He didn’t have an endoscopy until he had trouble swallowing which is usually the first symptom of this silent killer.
We will never know what would’ve happened if Brent had the endoscope, but his hope was that his story would save others from having to endure the unimaginable pain that he went through. You may think that this couldn’t happen to you, but no one ever thought that it could happen to Brent. The only way to be positive is to be proactive. If you or a loved one have persistent heartburn or acid reflux please go to your doctor and make sure that you get an endoscopy. It could save your life. And by the way, pass this story on at every opportunity.
Celebrate the relationships you possess in your lifetime, even the hard & difficult ones. Embrace the opportunity to still move forward.
There isn’t a day or an ounce in my possession I wouldn’t forego to see my brother again.