By Lizette Robles - September 28, 2021
Jonathan Brill suffered from acid reflux and GERD for many years. The local entrepreneur was accustomed to undergoing routine endoscopies every three years.
“Each time they would do small biopsies,” Brill said. “Many years ago, they found Barrett’s esophagus.”
In January 2020, the biopsy came back malignant. Brill was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer at the age of 44.
“I did not have the typical symptoms, weight loss or difficulty swallowing,” Brill said. “They caught it early because of the regular exams.”
Brill underwent several procedures before he and his care team decided to move forward with a more drastic surgery, an esophagectomy. The procedure revealed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He endured six months of chemotherapy and is now undergoing immunotherapy treatments to keep the cancer at bay.
Today, Brill is cancer free!
Brill’s wife Wendy, and teenage sons Jake and Grant, were tremendously supportive throughout his cancer journey. Both boys spent the majority of the 2020–2021 school year at home to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 to keep their dad safe during the pandemic.
“It was tough on everyone,” Brill said. “But they were all so supportive and made sure they did not do anything to further jeopardize my health.”
He admits cancer has been a life changing experience.
“From simple things like watching what and how much I can eat, to dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, it feels like every aspect of my life has been impacted by cancer,” Brill shared.
His advice to other newly diagnosed cancer patients… trust your Moffitt care team.
“Everyone, from the valet attendants to the most senior medical staff, are there to support you through your journey,” Brill said. “Remember that you are not alone. If you need support, there are so many resources available at Moffitt for anything you need.”
On September 25, the Tampa Bay Rays honored Brill at Tropicana Field through the Salute to Survivors program presented by Moffitt.
“We are huge Rays fans!” Brill said. “If we aren’t at the game, we’re watching from home. Jake is the biggest fan I know. He remembers every statistic known to man. We have a tradition of going to the Rays opening day game.”
The Brill’s got to witness their hometown team clinch the American League East Championship title, a memory even more special for a family that has endured so much.