It was mid-February 2013 when Gary Wesmiller took a bite of his food and noticed an extreme pain while trying to swallow. Gary promptly visited his general practitioner to find out the cause for this pain. During his appointment, Gary was referred to see Dr. Rao Moravineni, a medical oncologist at Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute in Griffin, Georgia.
During the appointment on February 26, 2013, Gary had a scope procedure. Doctors shared results back with Gary the same day, and he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Gary’s tumor was 9.4 centimeters, located at the lower part of the esophagus. After speaking to several local physicians and hospitals, Gary decided to return to Dr. Moravineni for his cancer treatment. Dr. Moravineni’s father had a very similar cancer 20 years ago, so Gary felt completely comfortable and confident selecting him as his doctor.
The pair quickly began treatment. Starting mid-March 2013, Gary went through 28 radiation treatments and was put on a 24/7 chemotherapy drug.
Gary was not the first of his family to be diagnosed with cancer. Both his brother and dad passed away from lung cancer, but he never received genetic testing to confirm if his cancer was related.
As a very spiritual person, Gary regularly included praying in his treatment plan. His external support from family, friends and colleagues was also imperative to his healing. But his wife was by far his strongest supporter.
“My wife was unbelievable during this time. She came to all of my treatments. She was my caretaker and nurse. My rock,” Gary said.
On July 9, 2013, Gary had his first surgery, lasting eight hours and led by three local surgeons. His recovery lasted a year, and he was back to his daily life by the summer of 2014.
In May 2018, now 73 years old and five years after his diagnosis, Gary again noticed a deep pain in his stomach after eating. He went to see his doctor and was quickly checked into his local hospital in Griffin.
On May 9, 2018, test results showed Gary had large B-cell lymphoma. Luckily, the cancer was not aggressive, meaning treatment was a viable option. Gary went through five rounds of chemo at Georgia Cancer Specialists completing treatment in July 2018.
Today, Gary is cancer free and gives back by participating in a local volunteer group, where he gets to speak with others battling cancer. He sends prays to those still fighting, and hopes they are well received.
“When I speak to others, I tell them, ‘take in the prayers of the people who are praying for you and seek good medical advice.’ That’s what I did, and I’m still here.”
*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.