Cancer-free and Making Music After Robotic Surgery

Mark Peters is an engineer who owns his own business. In his free time he enjoys building guitars and making music. Although his home is located in a tranquil environment, he was known to stay fairly active.

In October of 2015, he began to have trouble swallowing food, feeling as if it was getting stuck in an area low in his esophagus. Mark started with an appointment with his internist and then was referred to Bethesda North Hospital. After a scope and a biopsy, it was discovered that Mark had a tumor and tested positive for lower esophageal cancer.

He was immediately set up for an appointment with the TriHealth Cancer Institute in their GI multidisciplinary clinic. Although this was quite a difficult time for him, the caring team at TriHealth brought him great comfort.

Within the span of just one appointment, Mark recounts, “I met with all of the doctors who would be working with me - the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist, the surgical oncologist and my thoracic surgeon. They explained with charts and graphs all that would happen in the next year,” he recalls. His surgeon, Dr. Erik Dunki-Jacobs, drew pictures to explain how the surgery would be accomplished. Like most people, Mark hadn’t heard much about robotic surgery or about the da Vinci® Surgical robot.

“But, the nurses told me that everything would be ok. I was in their loving hands,” he said.

Prior to surgery, Mark underwent treatments of chemotherapy once a week and radiation five days a week. When he finished the treatment, he had a five-week time period to rest and recover before the surgery.

While what Mark faced was major, it went very smoothly, with little pain and much hope and optimism for a good outcome.

He describes his care team with loving intensity and respect.

 “I was in [the hospital] for 10 days. I felt like a rock star. I didn’t want for anything. My healing process was very quick, with only a three-inch incision. During my stay, they worked with me every day.

“The other thing that impressed me, I had interns and doctors two to three times a day check on me. Dr. J. Michael Smith (cardiothoracic surgeon) came into my room and was very excited. He said ‘your tumor went from the size of a golf ball to the size of a pea.  Right now you are in remission.’”

This happy news was the answer to his prayers.

“I am still cancer-free! My biggest challenge is learning to eat again. I have to eat in small batches. It took me eight to 10 weeks before I could eat normal-size foods,” He says. “I look at this whole thing as a correction-factor. I now eat organic, fresh foods. My cholesterol and other numbers are in check. For what I went through, my quality of life is very good. They have set me up with a nutritionist and she has helped immensely.”

Reflecting on this journey, Mark speaks with continued optimism. He credits his good outcome to the learning and care that he received as a TriHealth patient.

Mark said, “I put my faith in my Lord. I felt very relaxed through the whole process. I had tons of people praying for me. I am proof that prayer works.”  But, he also believes in the doctors and the technology. “I did my research and found that people come to TriHealth to get this done. I chose TriHealth doctors because they seemed to be more experienced [at robotic-assisted surgery]. I knew that was the least invasive way to get this done.”

Tags Cancer , Digestive , Men's Health , Robotics