Health Check: Raising money, awareness for esophageal cancer

Bob Laroche lost his battle with esophageal cancer.

Bob Laroche lost his year-long battle with esophageal cancer on Nov. 6, 2013.

He was 44 years old.

But his symptoms actually began years earlier.

"He was treated for acid reflux and he would complain from time to time that it would bother him and he would see the doctor and have the medication adjusted if needed," said Karen Laroche, Bob's wife.

Bob was vigilant about taking his medication for acid reflux, but never underwent an endoscopy examination.

"He was a very optimistic person and just always felt the medication was working," Karen said.

Then in October 2012, he started having symptoms where he fled that the food was getting stuck.

"I said, 'Maybe you should go see the doctor' and finally he had a couple of really good episodes that it really bothered him when it got stuck," Karen said.

Bob finally had an endoscopy examination, but the diagnosis was late-stage cancer of the esophagus.

Linda Molfesi's father, Salvatore, died from esophageal cancer 16 years ago.

It was because of his death that Linda, along with her daughter Christina Frye, started the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation. And now Karen and her mother are involved.

"We have to raise awareness first and foremost and we really do want to raise funds for different research groups to try to find a solution for this," Linda said.

"It's preventable," Karen said. "People need to be vigilant. People need to know if they have the symptoms of (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and acid reflux they need to be scoped. That's really important to have that checked out."

Being scoped involves putting a thin, lighted tube down the throat so the esophagus can be examined.

Linda said by the time you have symptoms of cancer, such as difficulty or pain swallowing, your cancer is advanced and survival rates are low.

To help raise awareness and money, the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is holding a walk at 9 a.m. Saturday at Warwick City Park.

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