Scott Butterfield celebrated his 48th birthday on June 16, 2017, just one day after he had been diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer.
“It was a heartbreaking day,” he said.
Butterfield, a Salem father of four who works overnights as a security guard at Beverly Hospital, was found to have a 14-centimeter mass in his esophagus, which made it difficult for him to keep down food and liquid.
With a strong support system around him, Butterfield began aggressive treatment that included chemotherapy at Beverly Hospital and radiation at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody. The goal was to shrink his tumor so it could be surgically removed.
“My colleagues were great, the medical staff was great, everybody was just fantastic,” Butterfield said. “They gave me the best advice, the best care.”
After weeks of treatment, Butterfield’s mass had shrunken to 2.1 centimeters. Then, Dr. Elliot Servais, a thoracic surgeon at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center recommended he undergo a robotic, minimally invasive, esophagectomy, which is a surgical removal of part of the esophagus to remove the tumor.
“The majority of patients are going to get an open esophagectomy,” Servais said. “That’s big incisions on the chest, on the belly, sometimes the neck. So you’re getting potentially three incisions that lead to pain and increased recovery time. Minimally invasive surgery for esophageal cancer and doing so robotically gives us the least invasive procedure, the best visualization, and the best dexterity.”
During the surgery, part of Butterfield’s stomach was used to create new a esophagus where the mass had been.
“They expected me to be in the hospital for 10 days after the surgery, and I was out in five,” Butterfield said. “I guess I recovered a little better than I expected.”
“Scott’s recovery was successful due to Lahey’s multidisciplinary team and the minimally invasive robotic esophagectomy,” Servais said.
Butterfield received the news that he was cancer free on December 7. He gave credit to his wife Shannon for supporting him through the hard times of treatments, saying “if it weren’t for her love and devotion, I probably wouldn’t have survived.” He is back at work, keeping watch over the hospital from 10:30 p.m. – 6:30 a.m., just like he’s done for the past 10 years.
“Ever since December 7, I’ve been acclimating myself to working again and living life as normal as I possibly can,” he said.